Orange County Public Schools latest system to have conducted controversial equity training

Image via Orange County NC

RALEIGH — Documents obtained by North State Journal detail Orange County Public Schools’ equity training using the same training modules as Wake County Public Schools.

One document detailing proposed professional equity training in Orange County Public Schools (OCS) for “year one” included spending of over $93,000. The document is dated Sept. 19, 2019, and the majority of training appears to be tied to Glenn Singleton’s Pacific Education Group (PEG).

The training modules include Beyond Diversity, District Executive Equity Leadership Team (DELT), Leadership for Racial Equity Team (LEADS) and Students Organized for Anti-Racism (SOAR).

“Training, coaching, and support focused on building executive capacity and accountability for leading and implementing district equity transformation and creating the district’s Systemic Equity Transformation Plan. Equity Walks will inform the planning and implementation process,” reads the description for the DELT training.

The list of training included two dates for a two-day training using “Beyond Diversity,” an antiracist training which is part of PEG’s training series “Courageous Conversations.” The two sessions had a listed cost of $11,150 each.

A description of a “Beyond Diversity” session says that the two-day seminar is “designed to help understand the impact of race on student learning and investigate the role that racism plays in institutionalizing achievement disparities.”

Two separate cohort groups of OCS staff were to attend a session of “Beyond Diversity.”

Cohort One included the “Superintendent; Cabinet members; Principals; Assistant Principals; Directors; Assistant Directors; Supervisors; Facilitators; Coordinators; Managers; Teacher SOAR advisors for high schools.”

Cohort Two included “School Counselors; Career Development Coordinators; Career Coaches; College Advisors; Teacher Equity Team members from each elementary and middle school; Instructional Coaches.”

Funding for four of the six training items proposed were labeled as “community fund,” while for the remaining two, OCS was listed as the funding source for the two SOAR training items.

One of PEG’s SOAR events was specifically for 9th to 11th grade students from high schools to attend.

Other OCS documents obtained by North State Journal include a “cultural proficiency continuum,” “Antiracism work and culturally relevant teaching in schools,” as well as a list of suggested books and other resources.

Singleton’s training has also been used by Wake County Public Schools’ Office of Equity Affairs (OEA).

Since founding PEG in 1992, Singleton has sold diversity and antiracist training sessions to K-12 school districts across the country. Records obtained from Wake County Public Schools show the district has paid PEG over a quarter of a million dollars between 2015 and 2019. Wake County Public Schools’ vendor history from July 1, 2015, to June 10, 2019, shows total for payments of $261,790 to PEG.

Wake County Public Schools “Equity Framework” has elements of both Singleton’s “Courageous Conversations” and the “Antibias Framework” of Learning for Justice, the education-activism arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Components of the framework include “Courageous Conversations,” “Color Consciousness,” “Identity Development,” “Culturally Relevant Teaching” and “Examining Privilege.”

The framework is included in a guide created by the OEA, titled “Equity in Action, Moving Beyond the Conversation.” In the opening section of the guide, the OEA includes a quote by the late Paulo Friere, a socialist and leading voice for “cultural pedagogy.” According to Friere’s Wikipedia page, he “contributed a philosophy of education which blended classical approaches stemming from Plato and modern Marxist, post-Marxist and anti-colonialist thinkers.”

The OEA introduced the guide to the Wake County School Board sometime between 2018 and 2019, and OEA staff presented the framework to the State Board of Education on June 5, 2019.

About A.P. Dillon 491 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_