Submitted by Mark Green
Editor’s Note: The Washoe County School District (WCSD) has been seeking input on English Language Arts social justice resources for grades K-5 since April. The proposed resources, which have been removed from the WCSD website, were produced by Advanced Benchmark. The Board of Trustees has discussed the resources at meetings in May and June. At both meetings crowds of conservative activists protested outside and engaged in hours of public comment regarding the proposed resources. The board at its June 9 meeting voted 6-1 to approve a task force to evaluate potential social justice resources for the district.
In this submitted opinion, Mr. Green is discussing the Advanced Benchmark materials. In approval of the social justice curriculum task force, the group was also ordered not to consider “divisive or political materials proposed by Benchmark.”
Let’s look at one of the Social Justice ELA lessons in Grade 3 Unit 6 for WCSD. “What helps us solve problems?” What an inclusive, consensus-building question. “Us,” not “us and them.”
The educator guidance for that question is: “Explain that the [Social Justice] Guiding Question deals with the impact that solutions to problems can have on BIPOC and other diverse communities.” So the Guiding Question really isn’t about “us.” It’s really about “us and them.” It’s BIPOC vs. them? Who is “them”?
The remaining four questions all continue the narrative that decisions are made outside the BIPOC community and that community has no influence on the decisions. In short, they are only given rules to follow and are not considered, let alone included, in the decision-making process.
For those who don’t know, BIPOC means Black, Indigenous, People of Color. There is only one group left out of that description. I’m uncertain how people can look at this and not see how it is indeed an “oppressor vs. oppressed” philosophy where the oppressed are explicitly named while the oppressor is only implied, and the categories are based upon skin color and skin color only. Interchange “BIPOC” with “white” and see if the statements are more about telling the “truth” or just promoting a racist philosophy.
I am old enough to remember when we wanted people to be judged “by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.” Apparently, that is now considered racist.
Before the district took them down, I read the [Advanced Benchmark ELA social justice] K-5 lessons along with all their questions–yes, all of them–and they all replicate this thinking which leads to ONLY one conclusion. That’s not thinking. That’s indoctrination, and it is based upon skin color.
Finally, the school board removed public access to the lessons after complaints arose. The school board moved public comments to the end of the meeting after hearing complaints in their meetings. (Editor’s note: A WCSD spokesperson said the move was related to length of public comment, not content.)
The school board approved a committee, headed by the curriculum-supporting superintendent, to study social justice curriculum after getting a nearly 84% negative response from the public [on the Advanced Benchmark resources in a community survey].
Is this how people of integrity stand up for what they believe in? Make it impossible for views they don’t like to be expressed? They believe so much that what they have is right that they ignore and try to shut down everyone else?
I just don’t buy it.
Mark Green was born, raised and educated in the Reno area. 30 years in public and private education. He is the son of a 42-year career teacher.
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