Susan Edelman, Selim Algar and Aaron Feis
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza Held ‘WHITE-SUPREMACY CULTURE’ Training For School Admins
Susan Edelman, Selim Algar and Aaron Feis
City Department of Education brass are targeting a “white-supremacy culture” among school administrators — by disparaging ideas like “individualism,” “objectivity” and “worship of the written word,” The Post has learned.
A presentation slide obtained by The Post offers a bullet-point description of the systemic, supposedly pro-white favoritism that Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza claims must be eradicated from the DOE, and provides just one insight into his anti-bias training efforts.
The list — derived from “Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups” by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun — names more than a dozen hallmarks of “white-supremacy culture” that school administrators are expected to steer clear of.
They include such dynamics as “paternalism,” a “sense of urgency” and “power hoarding,” according to the slide, which an insider said was part of mandatory training crafted by the department’s Office of Equity and Access and recently administered to principals, central office supervisors and superintendent teams.
The seminar is concurrent with Carranza’s larger push to root out “implicit bias” in the school system — an effort that some veteran DOE members blasted as creating a view of “toxic whiteness” detailed in a front-page story in Sunday’s Post.
“The training is not focused on white supremacy and white privilege,” Carranza said after a City Council budget hearing on Monday, referring to his larger campaign.
“It’s about what are our biases and how we work with them.”
The two slides were shown to top managers but were not part of a $23 million city wide implicit bias training, officials said.
The mandatory session for higher-ups included a “White Privilege Exercise” sheet in which attendees were asked to score the personal relevance of certain statements on a scale of 0 to 5.
“If a police officer pulls me over, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race,” one scenario reads.
“I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to ‘the person in charge,’ I will be facing a person of my race,” another says.
The DOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the materials used for the administrators’ training, but one adviser said that if the program’s frankness is making people uncomfortable, that’s because it’s working.
“It requires discomfort,” said Matt Gonzales, who serves as an outside adviser on the DOE’s school diversity task force and is a director of New York Appleseed, an advocacy group for school integration.
“Having to talk about someone’s own whiteness is a requirement for them to become liberated.”
Several recent attendees of the DOE’s overarching implicit-bias training sessions — mandatory for all, including teachers — have bristled at the program’s emphasis on the inherent insidiousness of “white” culture.
White employees who object when accused of harboring deep-seated bias are branded “fragile” and “defensive,” one insider who received the training has said.
But Carranza said on Monday that such skeptics often don’t realize their own biases until they are forced to confront them and that they are likely the ones who need the training the most.
“It’s good work. It’s hard work,” Carranza said. “And I would hope that anybody that feels that somehow that process is not beneficial to them, I would very respectfully say they are the ones that need to reflect even harder upon what they believe.”
Carranza also waved off allegations by at least four white DOE administrators who are poised to sue the department over their claims that, under his watch, they were demoted or stripped of duties in favor of less qualified persons of color.
“It’s always been my experience that anyone that comes in as a CEO of an organization takes a look at the organization and, based on their experience, makes some changes,” he said. “This is no different.”
The schools boss insisted that there was room on his staff for people of any race who share his emphasis on equality.
“I have some deputy chancellors that are white, but have an incredible equity lens as well . . . for making sure that historically underrepresented communities are being served,” Carranza said.
But one Manhattan middle school teacher who underwent mandatory implicit-bias training in December said she left feeling as though everything she had learned about “colorblindness” was being uprooted.
“I say they’re my students whether they’re green, purple, orange or black,” the educator, who asked not to be identified, told The Post. “We’re being told if you’re not recognizing students as African American, Haitian, Puerto Rican, Dominican, et cetera, you’re wrong.”
“It feels like I’m in a dystopian novel where all of a sudden being white is bad. All of a sudden, I’m the enemy.”