Sometimes the Seattle school system seems to make an effort to present itself as a parody of politically correct multiculturalism. Recall, for example, my mention (here) of several items discussed in Hans Bader’s excellent amicus brief for the plaintiffs in the Seattle school assignment case. Bader wrote:
On its Equity and Race Relations web site, the Seattle School District, until June 2006, declared that “cultural racism” includes the following:
“emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology”;
“having a future time orientation” (planning ahead); and
“defining one form of English as standard.”
In addition, the web site declared that only whites can be racists, and that minorities cannot be racist towards each other. And it derided the concept of “equality” as an outmoded aspect of assimilation. (Assimilation in turn was disparaged as the “giving up” of one’s culture).
After these definitions became the subject of extensive media attention, the School District withdrew the page that contained them from its web site on June 1, alleging a need to “provide more context to readers” about “institutional racism.” In its place, the School District inserted a web page that criticizes the very idea of a “melting pot” and being “colorblind,” emphasizing that the district’s “intention is not . . . to continue unsuccessful concepts such as a melting pot or colorblind mentality.”
You’d think they’d be on good behavior with their racial assignment case still before the Supreme Court … but you’d be wrong. Now, according to this article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, they’re being investigated for possible misuse of federal funds for sending students to a conference in Colorado on “white privilege.” (HatTip to a commenter on this post below.)
Two district staff members and 20 students from Hale, Franklin, Roosevelt and West Seattle high schools attended the three-day diversity conference, advertised as a way to examine “the challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offer solutions and team-building strategies to work toward a more equitable future.”
The conference also included workshops and discussions on multicultural education and leadership, social justice, racism, sexual orientation and “gender relations,” and encouraged participants “to dismantle systems of power, prejudice, privilege and oppression.”
The district spent roughly $10,000, including money from a federal Small Learning Communities grant and the district’s Office of Equity and Race Relations, Seattle Public Schools spokesman David Tucker said. Reimbursement requests for meals are still being processed, so the total amount spent could increase, he said.
Officials with the Seattle branch of the Department of Education plan to hold a conference call with district officials to investigate.
“Any time there are allegations of mismanagement of federal taxpayer money we are concerned, and we take appropriate actions to correct the problems,” according to a statement Department of Education spokesman Eric Earling released Thursday. “We are requesting information from the district about this expense, including whether it was charged to the SLC grant.”
The competitive federal grants are awarded to large high schools to study and create smaller learning environments, such as “schools within a school” or career academies.
The grants are intended to help defray costs of activities, such as teacher training or extended school days, to help create the smaller learning environments.
Actually, it’s conceivable that sending students to this conference could result in “smaller learning environments” in the Seattle schools … if some parents withdrew their children from the schools in disgust.