New Wake schools’ diversity leader presented on ‘social justice’ in high school math

RALEIGH — A presentation obtained by North State Journal shows the new leader of Wake County Public Schools’ Office of Equity Affairs presented on “culturally responsive teaching and social justice in high school mathematics classrooms” at a 2021 Math Summit held at N.C. State University. 

Wake County’s new Office of Equity Affairs leader Dr. William Chavis gave the presentation alongside Dr. Kevin Bullock, Executive Director for Equity Affairs for Durham Public Schools. Bullock is also the husband of Ronda Bullock, the founder of Working Towards Anti-Racist Education (WEARE) which is an organization that openly supports the use of Critical Race Theory in K-12 education. 

The 25-page presentation is titled “Is Culturally Responsive Teaching even Possible in Mathematics Classes?: Equitable Teaching Practices in Integrating Culture and Social Justice in High School Mathematics Classrooms.” 

The slides include discussing, engaging and applying “tenets of culturally responsive teaching through high school mathematics standards and the framework for social justice,” as well as increasing the “understanding of social justice issues and how they play a critical and pivotal role in teaching mathematics.” 

Much of the material and themes included in the presentation mirror that of “Equitable Math,” a project aimed at dismantling racism in math instruction that has $1 million in grant backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.   

One of the core guides followed by Equitable Math includes a framework with approaches for “antiracist math educators” for “dismantling white supremacy in math classrooms by making visible the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.”  Toxic characteristics in the guide include getting answers right and teaching “real-world math.” 

The Chavis/Bullock presentation includes also includes a proposed “Equity-Driven Mathematics Teacher Framework,” as pictured below.

Materials referred to in the presentation are “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain,” by Zaretta Hammond and “High School Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice,” a joint publication by Coleman Mathematics and the National Council of Teachers in Mathematics (NCTM).  The presentation relies heavily on Hammond’s work, however, in the latter portion of the presentation, an example of a “Social Justice Math Lesson” on food security is supplied from the Coleman and NCTM joint publication. 

Also included is a slide titled “Social Justice Connections,” featuring images of protesters for climate change, Black Lives Matter, the protesting students and a man holding up his fist while displaying an image of George Floyd, the man who died while being arrested and whose death set off violent protests in 2020. 

A later slide enumerates specific social justice topics, including disparities in honors courses, fair living wage, wealth distribution, climate change, immigration, prison population, intersectionality/wage gaps, gerrymandering, food insecurity, and “BBQ Becky” policing and racial justice. 

The “BBQ Becky” is the meme named for an incident of a white woman named Jennifer Schulte calling 911 on a black family barbequing in Oakland, California, in 2018.  

Chavis has deleted his tweets related to the 2021 Math Summit, however, North State Journal preserved several of them using archive websites. One deleted tweet promoted the upcoming presentation while in another deleted tweet Chavis celebrated giving the presentation with Bullock, who he notes as being his friend and former college roommate.  

“When culturally responsive teaching and social justice collide in math classes, we create scholars ready to engage in social change. It was dope to have co-presented with my college roommate and friend, @DKelvinB, Exec Director of @DPS_Equity. We can do this! @NCStateCED @NCTM,” Chavis said in the now-deleted tweet. 

On Mar. 1 of this year, Chavis was named to fill the assistant superintendent vacancy left by Rodney Trice in the Office of Equity Affairs (OEA). He will have a starting salary of $129,000 a year. 

Trice resigned in May 2021 following North State Journal’s two-part series investigating a professional development course his office facilitated called “Intro to Critical Race Theory.” That course was to be taught by The Equity Collaborative, a DEI and Critical Race Theory training organization founded and run by sitting state Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Durham). 

Trice was hired not long after by the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools district as the Chief Equity and Engagement Officer with an annual compensation of around $161,940. 

Chavis, while principal at Enloe, had worked with both the OEA and Meyer’s outfit related to “equity” strategies. State Board of Education member James Ford described the partnership between Chavis and Meyer’s group in a February 2019 article at EducationNC as “receiving consulting from the Equity Collaborative to help guide implementation.”  

Chavis and Meyer also crossed paths in 2017 during a “Leading Equity Conversations and Culturally Responsive Teaching” that involved staff from at least three WCPSS schools.  

Essential duties contained in Chavis’ job description are heavy in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), including the areas of professional development to focus on “culturally relevant pedagogy” and “culturally responsive practices.” The job description also says Chavis’ role “Actively engages and partners with students, employees, and the community to further practices, programs, and outreach activities that support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.” 

Chavis has been employed with WCPSS for almost 12 years. In March 2021, his resume says he was an “Executive Leadership Coach” with WCPSS. He was the principal of Enloe for almost five years, from August 2016 through March 2021.  

Prior to Enloe, he was the principal at Fuquay-Varina Middle School (Sept. 2013-Aug. 2016) and assistant principal of the same middle school for three years beginning in Aug. of 2010. Before coming to WCPSS, Chavis was a math department chair in the Alamance-Burlington Public School System for six years spanning from Aug. 2004 through Aug. of 2010. 

Based on records requests made by North State Journal in 2021, the Office of Equity Affairs’ budgetary running total since its inception in 2014 has exceeded $8.69 million. Around $2.4 million of that total has been tied to “workshops” and “training,” much of which is based on or directly includes Critical Race Theory.  

When investigating if taxpayers were getting their money’s worth related to the OEA, North State Journal learned WCPSS keeps performance metrics on OEA staff only and not for the OEA as a whole. 

About A.P. Dillon 753 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_