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PDE Slams Denver School District With Federal Complaint Over Memo Asking Staff to Endorse Anti-Racism Pledge

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Denver Public Schools, East High School
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Denver Public Schools recently got a federal civil rights complaint over a memo sent to some 13,000 staff. Sending memos in schools is a normal thing. However, this one was asking that they endorse a ‘black excellence’ pledge about the ‘deep harm whiteness brings to students.’

The conservative group Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s civil rights office this week. They’re accusing the district of ‘discrimination’ by prioritizing black students over others.

The district’s senior leadership and its $305,000-a-year Supt., Dr Alex Marrero, sent the memo. The complaint is the latest backlash against what many see as an overreaching “reverse racism” following the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The district should be embarrassed for promoting curricula that exemplifies the ‘deep harm whiteness brings to students,’” said Caroline Moore, a vice president at PDE. “No student, even those who are white, should go to school and feel ashamed for what they look like. Discrimination is discrimination, end of story.”

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The controversial memo presents itself as a “belief in and commitment to black excellence.” One designed to address the “years of harm, trauma, and racism” that African Americans have had to endure. The @endwokeness X/Twitter account made the memo public last month.

The pledge states that “all educators need to understand white supremacy, white privilege, and the prevalence and deep harm whiteness brings to students and team members.” It promises to deliver “equity-based revisions to the curriculum.” And urges educators to “work to dismantle the system that allows certain students to excel and others to perish.”

The document quotes Robin Diangelo and Jamilah Pitts. They are two prominent advocates of the controversial approach to overturning racism known as critical race theory.

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PDE thinks the memo is unfair because it makes teachers prioritize the “social, political and educational needs of some children over others solely based on the color of their skin.” It will also tie up teachers in “hours of onerous training that focus solely on outcomes for black students.”

The complaint calls these violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Marrero has spoken of the need to “disrupt the status quo” in schools in videos. He also talks about helping students of all backgrounds with an “equity-based strategic plan.”

In his profile on the school website, he tags himself the “son of a Cuban refugee and a Dominican immigrant” who became the “first Latinx head of the city’s school system.” It is thanks to his background that he “understands firsthand and advocates for the diverse needs of his students,’ it adds.

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Some racial justice campaigners believe schools need to help overcome centuries of racial discrimination and level the playing field for black students. But critics of that theory say such efforts can very quickly become little more than “white-shaming” or “reverse racism.” Both breed enmity in classrooms and end up hurting all involved.

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