Evanston, Illinois starts racial discrimination in public schools in a nonproductive way

This is one of the more blatant examples of racial discrimination that I have seen, outstripping what I consider a useful form of discrimination: affirmative action in universities and other organizations. But in this case the affirmative action seems invidious, for it’s taking the form of giving students of color more access to in-person learning in Evanston public schools (a town just north of Chicago) as a way to remedy racism.

Since the article is in the Wall Street Journal, you won’t be able to read more than a few lines by clicking on the screenshot, but judicious inquiry will yield a copy.

The plan is to let students of color have more access to in-person learning than white students because, on average, the former do less well in school (but apparently not always; Evanston is a pretty wealthy town, and a college town that harbors Northwesterne University).

An excerpt (my emphasis in all that follows):

This summer, school superintendent Devon Horton told the residents of this city north of Chicago that for “oppressed minorities,” the coronavirus was only the latest chapter in their long history of persecution—the pandemic of “inequity and racism and classism” had been holding them down for a lot longer.

In recognition of the impact of racism, Dr. Horton said, Evanston schools would give students from marginalized groups first priority for seats for in-person learning and all other students would be taught remotely. This is “about equity for Black and brown students, for special education students, for our LGBTQ students,” he said during a public meeting, held via Zoom.

. . .Even this city, which has been proactive around the issue of race relations, has been overtaken by demands for change sparked by the May killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Protests this summer called for racial equity in general and an end to police brutality against Black people. That public rage has led to a shake-up at schools, which are struggling to accommodate competing demands from teachers, parents and students. Resolutions and curriculum reviews from just a year or two ago, which were designed to recognize the harm done to Black people in America, are no longer considered enough by some. Calls for deliberation have been labeled obstructionist and racist.

Giving students preferential treatment on the basis of race has faced legal challenges elsewhere, such as in college admissions. Dr. Horton frames the issue as addressing an achievement gap that falls along racial lines in his district. In Evanston, Black and Latino students are about one-third as likely as white students to meet college readiness benchmarks, according to a 2019 Evanston schools report. White families have average household incomes three times that of Black and Latino families here, according to federal data.

The school board defended the policy, equating opposition to it as a form of white supremacy!

In July, during a public Zoom meeting, he said that all students would begin the school year online. Later this fall, should conditions permit, a fraction of students would be able to return to the classroom. The rest would continue to take class online.

After the slew of angry letters aimed at Dr. Horton, the school board responded with an open letter to the community.

“When you challenge policies and protocols established to ensure an equitable experience for Black and brown students,” the board said in its letter, “you are part of a continuum of resistance to equity and desire to maintain white supremacy.”

This is Critical Race Theory embodied.

Why do I favor affirmative action for colleges but oppose this protocol? For several reasons.  Students in secondary schools do not have an opportunity to go to another school if they’re denied in-person learning, while under affirmative action a minority student denied admission to one college can find a place in another. There is recourse in the second case, but not in the first.  Further, there is no ranking of merit or need in the Evanston case, in contrast to colleges, which rank minority students and, while giving them an admissions boost, still admit those who are most promising. In contrast, the Evanston students of color are apparently not ranked on the basis of merit and need (in this case, those who need in-person education most are presumably those who aren’t doing very well), but are simply given priority based on race.  White students who really need help badly, but aren’t “of color”, don’t get much of a chance.

In other words, based on their known performance, students who don’t need in-person learning, but who are minorities, get priority over non-minorities who badly need in-person learning. Needs are presumably known to the teachers. The prioritization of race over need in such a case seems invidious and counterproductive, for the net result will be a decrease in overall learning compared to a needs-based protocol. That itself will still allow affirmative action of a sort because minority students apparently need more help than others. Prioritizing based on need, in other words, still has the effect of increasing in-class diversity.

Further, this kind of partitioning assumes that all black students are weaker than all white students, which simply cannot be the case. That is racism, pure and simple. And there is no inherent advantage of diversity in this kind of partitioning—one rationale for affirmative action in colleges. The diversity is already there, as these are public schools that all children are required to attend.

Finally, why do LGBTQ students get any priority at all? What they need is not more learning—assuming they’re not in general deficient compared to “straight” students—but equal treatment as people.

Evanston has screwed up here, and it’s no surprise that many people are mad.

Oh, and there’s one more thing on Dr. Horton’s agenda:

Dr. Horton has hired a dean of culture and climate and a diversity hiring specialist for the district. He wants the teaching staff to reflect the demographics of the district, which is about 23% Black and 21% Hispanic. Currently, 13% of the district’s teachers are Black and 9% are Hispanic.

Every teacher in his district will be required to take antiracist training, he said. The expectation will be that they should teach and grade equitably. Most are now, Dr. Horton said. Teachers who are not hitting the district’s goals will be “coached up,” he said.

The Evanston teachers union didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Dr. Horton said he wouldn’t hire a teacher who didn’t support the district’s antiracist agenda and said he doesn’t believe teachers should be licensed by the state if they aren’t trained in antiracism.

“If you’re not antiracist, we can’t have you in front of our students,” he said.

Let nobody say the man isn’t woke.


h/t: Luana


  1. GBJames
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink


  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    [ writes numerous things and deletes them ]

    Since the definition of “people of color” is so meaningless as to include e.g. Muslims from the country of Georgia, how will anyone know if the policy is working? Anyone can claim they are people of color – how can it be challenged?

    • Posted October 8, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I hate that term. ALL people are people of color. There are no colorless humans.

      • rickflick
        Posted October 8, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        Mike Pence?

    • EdwardM
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      You need take a lesson from the Woke and use the Humpty Dumpty approach to word meaning; “When I use a word…it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

      Please note that if you disagree with the meaning of words spoken by the Woke, you are, literally, Hitler.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        Well, there’s a knock-down argument for you!

        -H. Dumpty

  3. Posted October 8, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Hopefully, people are waking up to critical race theory and defund government programs which support it.

  4. Rachel
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it also asking non-POC LGBT people to out themselves, if they’re not already out?

  5. dd
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Then there is this from Belvedere Elementary School, Virginia:

    • flayman
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      I believe I have now seen it all. “Objectivity” is a characteristic of White Supremacy Culture.

      • Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        So is “urgency”. What is the benighted alternative then….take your sweet time always? Surely there is a time and place where urgency is needed!

        Also, “individualism” is a problem? So instead go with the group and don’t think for yourself?

        “Fear of open conflict” is another weird one…to me it is the woke who actually have this fear, as they can’t stand open debate and critical analysis of their views!

        • flayman
          Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          No, not urgency. A sense of urgency. Presumably that is suggesting an intolerance to having to wait for things. But maybe it’s just the idea that change shouldn’t take much time. But “worship of the written word?” Seriously? What does that even mean? Let me guess. The historical record.

          • Posted October 8, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

            “No, not urgency. A sense of urgency.”

            That’s really splitting hairs.

            What this addresses is a perceived tendency for non-whites to be more lax in adhering to deadlines and schedules. Instead of a rational discussion as to when it is appropriate to have urgency/sense of urgency, the whole concept is deemed problematic.

            • Max Blancke
              Posted October 8, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

              I think the word is punctuality.
              I also suspect that the people who produce these sorts of things have to do a bit of work to not just make the list look like a compilation of virtues.

              Also, pairing “quantity over quality” and “perfectionism” is not logical.

              “Fear of open conflict” is sort of interesting.

        • flayman
          Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          The woke are not afraid of open conflict. They don’t want to debate because they are convinced that there is no room for debate and that anyone who wishes to debate is “problematic”.

        • darrelle
          Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          “Right to Comfort” is the one that cracked me up.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      That’s a pretty good description of the 99+% white workplace where I currently work, and not very close to the ca. 50% black workplace where I used to work. The perfectionism here is totally crippling, and the people at the top are information hoarders who concentrate power within a select elite group. There’s no such thing as “good enough,” and lots of “death-by-committee” due to unwillingness to have disagreements. So… a whole lot of nothing gets done. Having worked in a place where differences of opinion were okay, where doing something imperfect was better than doing nothing because nothing is perfect, I hate it here.

      • EdwardM
        Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        Good..um…lord! Where do you live? Just so I know to avoid it. And, in case it isn’t clear, you have my sympathies.

        • ladyatheist
          Posted October 8, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          Greg & Mike Pence’s home district!

  6. flayman
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    “If you’re not antiracist, we can’t have you in front of our students,”

    It’s not enough to be opposed to racism. You have to be actively antiracist, an ideology which, if you are considered white, requires you to constantly apologize for your life and to accept at face value any criticism no matter how bizarre and unfounded.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      No, it means being conscious of racist policies & biases and actively working to undo them. There’s nothing in anti-racist training or concept that includes apologizing.

      • Max Blancke
        Posted October 8, 2020 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        “Finally, as the camp concludes, the white males must write letters “directed to white women, people of color, and other groups regarding the meaning of this Caucus experience.” They apologize for their “privilege” and pledge to become “better [allies]…Finally, at the close of the sessions, the white, male, nuclear lab employees had to write letters of apology to women and persons of color in general.”

      • dd
        Posted October 8, 2020 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

        “The denial of racism is its heartbeat. In contrast, the heartbeat of being an anti-racist is the ability to confess when we were being racist. When our nation, our state, our county, that policy, that idea, was indeed racist,”…..Dr. Kendi.

  7. flayman
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    “Further, this kind of partitioning assumes that all black students are weaker than all white students, which simply cannot be the case. That is racism, pure and simple.”

    Yes, this is what I’ve heard some conservatives refer to as the soft racism of low expectations.

  8. Jon Gallant
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Someone (I don’t remember who) long ago observed that if fascism came to the USA, it would be in the guise of anti-fascism. We are in the process of institutionalizing a form of racism under the title of antiracism (notably, it appears, in Evanston), a form in which all individual qualities are to be replaced by racial characterization, with a new and peculiar ranking. Interesting that the Evanston version ranks the LGBTQ “race” at the head of the queue, but religions can get away with any sort of arbitrary choice, and so can the new religious doctrine.

    Lest anyone think this won’t matter, the decline of the Islamic golden age of intellectual inquiry presents an object lesson. It was largely due to the dominating influence of the obscurantist religious outlook exemplified by the theologian al-Ghazali. He taught anti-philosophy (an early precursor of Critical Intersectional Theory) according to which natural philosophy, logic, reason, and cause-and-effect thinking were impious, even heretical. A previous poster recommended a good article on this history:

  9. flayman
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I expect this policy to succumb to a legal challenge. There will be white students who are poor and don’t have good learning support at home, as well as those with mental health problems or learning difficulties who need face to face learning opportunities. This is blatant racial discrimination which is not proportionate to any legitimate aim, even discounting those other factors.

    • Posted October 8, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Please take heed of dominating a thread; you’ve posted nearly half of the comments on this one.

    • Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      A Supreme Court stuffed with Trump appointees could well rule that this sort of race-based discrimination (aka “affirmative action”) is unconstitutional.

      That would at least be a silver lining.

      • flayman
        Posted October 8, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        It was actually conservative Justice O’Connor who wrote the majority opinion in Grutter v Bollinger in 2003 which upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action policies that take into account other factors and serve the compelling interest of a diverse student body. In the same year the Court ruled in Gratz v Bollinger that a strict quota system was unconstitutional because it “ensures that the diversity contributions of applicants cannot be individually assessed”.

        I don’t think it would get as far as the Supreme Court. There is clear authority on it and any good constitutional lawyer should see right through this.

        • Posted October 8, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          Grutter v Bollinger was a 5:4 decision. I could well see the Court over-turning it and ruling out any and all affirmative action policies that take race into account.

  10. rickflick
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Horton Hears a Who! And some critical race theory. I wonder if he would advocate providing levels of extra support for every level of disadvantage. Get in a colorimeter to grade skin tone, inquire as to any sexual/gender tendencies, give chits for being undersized or overweight, grade on looks, etc. Allocate facetime in minutes based on overall score.

    Let me state the obvious: calling critics of you policy proposal as in support of white supremacy, precludes any other approach to solving the problem.

  11. Posted October 8, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I think this would be a better policy if it were targeted specifically to the lower socioeconomic status students, who might have worse access to things like broadband, and less learning-conducive home environments, regardless of their degree or pattern of skin pigmentation. It might be worth letting people apply for it, providing some kind of demonstration of circumstances. But as it is, it is, as you said, just racist.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that would be more equitable. I’m not familiar with the demographics there, so if there’s a very close correlation between race and advantage/disadvantage, this could be a good thing with a bad label. Opening it up to “everybody” when only black people would qualify would at least pass a smell test. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to identify who would benefit more because this whole educational model is too new for evidence-based decision-making. Would children of single parents all be equally disadvantaged? And wouldn’t children of a two-parent household in which both parents worked at menial jobs, or where one parent was disabled or something, be equally disadvantaged?

      • EdwardM
        Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        There are numerous ways to address issues of economic disadvantages. Why not simply use household income? They could have other programs which allow students in who are over the household income limit but who qualify for other reasons, such as English language proficiency, special medical or educational needs, etc.

        There are all sorts of ways people of good will can agree on to accomplish whatever goal they set out for. It is alarming that they have chosen a method that embraces the very thing they wish to destroy.

      • Sastra
        Posted October 9, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        I grew up in Evanston, and went to public schools there during the 60’s and 70’s. While most of the black students back then seemed poorer, as I recall there were plenty of middle class and a few wealthy black families.

        The poorest neighborhood was predominantly black — and the High School was right in the center of it. My first (foolish) thought when I read that black students would have priority when classes opened up was “well, yeah, they’re closer.” An advantage during cold months.

  12. EdwardM
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    In an attempt to fight racism these people would have us become an openly racist society again. This is quite literally insane.

  13. Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    “Every teacher in his district will be required to take antiracist training, he said. The expectation will be that [teachers] should teach and grade equitably.”

    To spell it out, that means that the average mark a teacher gives white kids must be the same as the average mark they give black kids, and also Hispanics — regardless of the abilities of kids in the class.

    Else they’re in trouble and will be sent to an “anti-racist” re-education camp.

  14. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    This anti-racist fad is showing up in checkout aisles – I saw a book with the word on it, with associated books, at a prominent department store a couple months ago.

  15. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted October 8, 2020 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Tough times for teachers who already have a tough time I gather.

    Does this mean that students of color (not pink) will get good marks despite not getting good learning?


  16. Posted October 9, 2020 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Goodness that’s bizarre.
    I agree with you on race and I still can’t get my head around the LGBT “set aside”.

    Especially in the younger generation anti-LGBT bigotry is really very rare. The kids don’t really seem to give a toss about that these days and a gay kid born in 2000 has a much easier time in life than one, say, of our generation had growing up.

    Of course all this is fuel for the Faux Noos fire of “reverse racism” – which is brainless, except when that brainlessness is matched by cases like this!
    Why not just hand tRump the election right now? Nobody ever thinks about the “blow back” of these kinds of showboating maneuvers.

    Damn it.
    D.A., J.D., NYC

  17. Deodand
    Posted October 9, 2020 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    It’s getting worse, simply asking students to think about history can get teachers canned…


    • flayman
      Posted October 9, 2020 at 5:04 am | Permalink

      I’ve talked to some tRump supporters on forums who point to this sort of thing as the reason they will vote for him, even more so than judicial appointments. Someone told me he considers the woke movement a civilization ending event and that the extreme elements have taken over the Democratic Party. Kamala Harris has denied the existence of cancel culture. She calls it people being held to account for what they’ve said in the past. This is why I don’t treat all tRump supporters as “deplorables” as Dr. Coyne says he does. I don’t feel that a Biden presidency would escalate this movement, but others aren’t so sure. The threat is clear and the examples are numerous and growing.

  18. chrism
    Posted October 9, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    I foresee two unintended consequences:
    1. Black kids will suffer higher rates of infection through being asked to attend school in person, and someone will say the superintendent ‘should have known’ that they were already more vulnerable through ethnicity yet went ahead and sent them back while the white kids got to stay at home.
    2. I know that teachers cannot admit this, but there are a lot of kids who are absolutely thriving on distance learning without the social pressures of high school. My wife, a child psychiatrist, has been amazed by how well the kids who had anxiety and mood disorders are doing when removed from the pretty toxic high school environment – to the point where they can get on and learn.

  19. eHead
    Posted October 9, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    There is an uncomfortable parallel with these antiracist pledges and McCarthyism. Surely the vast majority of people brought before McCarthy were not communists, so simply confirming this wouldn’t seem to be such a big deal. Of course, the real purpose of these pledges is to enforce your worldview, and to make dissenting with this worldview socially costly. Not being a communist is not enough… you must agree that the threat of communism is everywhere. It’s all a power trip.

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