EDEN, N.C. – “White privilege” training in the Rockingham County school system is causing a lot of headaches.
Superintendent Rodney Shotwell told Rockingham Now the state threatened to withhold federal funding when a disproportionate number of minority students were suspended in a special exceptional children’s program in 2012 and 2013, so district leaders implemented mandatory “equity training” for school staff.
Now, some teachers are complaining that the training materials focused on white privilege and transgender issues violate their principles, while parents are speaking out about other teachers who are taking what they learned and imposing it on students.
At a May 8 school board meeting, parent Farran Wilkinson took to the podium to out one educator who recently forced white students to apologize to black students for their white privilege, according to the American Lens.
“I just want to share light on a situation that happened at Western Rockingham Middle School where a teacher caused some of her students to stand up and apologize to other students based on their unequal opportunities of education, so I would like to know how our schools can allow an educator to humiliate, bully and degrade students,” Wilkinson said. (60 minute mark in the YouTube video) “This is not a matter of race but a matter of a teacher using fear and the embarrassment of children to satisfy her own personal anger or beliefs.”
The Lens reportedly contacted parents in the school district and identified the teacher as sixth grade English teacher Tarsha Clark.
“American Lens was told by one parent that the incident was more specific than Wilkinson stated,” the news site reports. “According to that parent, Clarke forced her white students to stand in front of the class and apologize to the minority students for their ‘white privilege.’”
Wilkinson stressed that none of the students responsible for inequalities in the school system, questioned why parents were shut out when they inquired about the incident, and urged board members to set an example with the teacher responsible.
Western Rockingham Middle School Principal Stephanie Wray alleged the incident never happened, while Shotwell told Rockingham Now district officials are investigating the allegations.
Wilkinson wasn’t the only person to complain about the white privilege training at the May board meeting.
Rockingham County Republican Chairwoman Diane Parnell addressed board members about the training videos used by the district, which allegedly promoted the end to “evilism, racism and heterosexualism.” Heterosexualism is the perspective that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation and homosexuality is abnormal.
“The reason I know about the equity training is a group of teachers came to us because they felt like they needed help,” Parnell told the school board. “This equity training – that was mandated upon them that they got no credit hours for and they must sit through this on their own time – was something against their Christian principles, and if you take a look at it as I did, those equity training videos, it did seem to be against their principles.”
“Look around,” she said. “Most of the people in here I almost guarantee you are heterosexual. Do you want to get rid of them?”
Shotwell told Rockingham Now that the district made some tweaks to the training to accommodate some of the concerns, but officials are pressing forward with the training despite the backlash.
“It still deals with some current issues that we have, but I don’t think the controversy that some people might have thought could potentially be in the gird and forth modules are going to be there,” he said. “… We changed it to try to meet the needs, but we’re still doing the training, but it’s just different material that we’re using.”
He also justified the offensive training by alleging teachers do not have to actually believe in the viewpoints promoted by their employer, they just have to endure equity training for their own good.
“I told a teacher at one of the trainings I went to, you know, ‘I’m not asking you to change your beliefs by any stretch of the imagination,’” he said. “‘It’s just simply letting you know that kids are going to come to you from sometimes a home that’s a little bit different values than yours and you just need to know that they’re there, but I’m not asking you to change.’”
And while some complained directly to the school board, others published their opinions online.
An editorial in the Rockingham Update attacked not only the training program, but also the white privilege theory it’s based on.
Retired community college professor William James wrote:
Please note: the whole notion that “people of color” are by definition “oppressed,” by their “white privilege” oppressors and are victims of a structurally unjust American society is mostly bunk. Scholar Thomas Sowell studied these issues years ago and found that there were “people of color” whose success rates exceeded those of whites. Asian-descended (India, Japan, China, etc.) Americans on average had higher incomes and higher academic performances than whites. Some oppression!
Sowell also found that among our black population, those who were the children of immigrants from the Caribbean or elsewhere had markedly higher incomes and academic performances than native-born ones. The former were never taught that they were the hopeless, despairing victims of Open Source’s evil racist society, and saw America as it is: a land of opportunity. They seized that opportunity. Good for them!
He also put the diversity training program into perspective.
Most dismaying is that all the time, money and energy to preach “diversity” and whatnot take away from time spent on arithmetic, spelling, reading, science or history! We understand that elementary teachers are allowed barely any paper to print out tests and worksheets. They feel that their hands are tied at maintaining classroom order and discipline. Exactly what we said about the bureaucrats two weeks ago – while spending gobs of money, they interfere with the program more than they assist it.
But, by golly, the teachers will know all about “multiculturalism” and “diversity” and the kids will know to resent whites or feel guilty for being one! A triumph for bureaucracy!