Tumwater High School lies just south of Olympia, Washington. It is a reasonably regular suburban school of a little over 1,200 students, of whom about a quarter are “low income.” Three-quarters of its students are white, about 12% are Hispanic. Eight percent claim to be “two or more races.” Less than two percent of its students are black. Approximately 75% of the students are involved in school activities that include athletics, clubs, drama, music and community service organizations.
If there has ever been a racially inspired incident at Tumwater High, an internet search does not reveal it.
“Cancel Culture” Destroys One of Its Own
Yet, someone at Tumwater must be afraid that corrosive racism is lurking there. Over the summer of 2021, according to National Review, the school system hired a new “director of diversity, equity & inclusion.” According to a local news website, that director was Alekcander Zhdanov, who was recruited from Galveston, Texas. His tenure at Tumwater was brief. Less than a month after settling into his new position, someone discovered four “memes” on Mr. Zhdanov’s Facebook account. All four accused conservatives of racism.
One post showed an African in garments similar to those of Our Lord. The caption asked: “If Jesus looked like this, would white conservatives still be Christians?”
Mr. Zhdanov admitted that the posts were “incredibly insensitive” and connected them to a “contentious election and political environment.” After a contentious 75-minute “Zoom” meeting, he resigned.
…But the Work Marches On!
Unfortunately, Mr. Zhdanov’s work continued after his departure. At the opening of the new school year, the district required teachers to attend a meeting featuring hallmarks of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) and “Restorative Justice.”
An introductory slide in the presentation contained a curious line, “We see ourselves as the voice for the students that are not in our schools.”
As a retired teacher with thirty-four years of experience, most of it in public high schools, this author is well aware of the tasks teachers must accomplish before the first day of school. Teachers need to nail down their plans for the year, clean and decorate classrooms, duplicate materials, make sure that textbooks and other materials are ready, and do a myriad of other tasks—large and small. A teacher must ensure that all the “ducks are in a row” before the students arrive.
Amid the unavoidable confusion, the teachers of Tumwater High School had to spend valuable time coloring in a “Privilege Pie,” patterned after one in the presentation:
The message is simple. The more “pieces” of the “pie” that pertain to each teacher, the greater is one’s “privileged status.” Those with more “privilege” have corresponding obligations to understand the plight of the “less privileged.”
One Teacher’s Reaction
One Tumwater teacher, who understandably wished to remain anonymous, communicated the general frustration to an organization called “Parents Defending Education.”
“I was so upset because we have so much to do and I would really prefer to use that time to design effective instruction or communicate with families. Instead, I’m sitting there for 2 hours learning about how I am privileged because of my skin color and about micro-aggressions.”
“[E]veryone was terrified to contribute to the discussion…we all knew…that if anyone like me shared their views on it, we would be shunned.”
Thinly Veiled Threats
Such a “shunning” can adversely affect a teacher’s career, especially if the school’s administration is committed to a “social justice” emphasis.
Indeed, this author has little doubt that he would have been punished for writing this article if he was still teaching. Such a punishment would range from an official reprimand to the eventual loss of one’s position. Teachers with traditional values are extremely vulnerable in the current atmosphere.
Of course, all threats are heavily veiled. For instance, a four-minute video referred to in the Tumwater Schools’ presentation features Caprice Holmes, Psy. D., the co-foundress of “Cultures Connecting.” It begins with a tone of pseudo-compassion for its viewers.
“We believe that most people genuinely want to effectively communicate across cultures, but they don’t know how, they don’t have the tools or the skills; and one of the things that paralyzes them is…their fear of making a mistake, of being called a racist…what we do in our workshops is to try to create an environment where people can safely explore their selves as racial beings as well as other people’s experiences around race.”
Only One Acceptable Opinion
However, everyone who attends such meetings knows that the only acceptable “exploration” path leads to the appropriate “woke” destination. Any other response will land one somewhere on the “Pyramid of White Supremacy” that was also a part of the Tumwater presentation.
Believing that people in minority groups are far better off today than in earlier generations displays “minimization” because that person argues for a “post-racial society.” Say that schools should be more about content and skills, and one is guilty of “veiled racism” because such an attitude advances “Euro-Centric Curriculum.” Asserting that social problems like divorce, chaotic home lives and gang culture keep back a disproportionate number of minority group members demonstrates “Victim Blaming.”
Moreover, these social sins can never be forgiven once committed because they contribute to an overall “atmosphere of racism.”
Charity and Truth
It is no wonder that increasing numbers of teachers fear that saying anything that can take out of context—or even being inappropriately silent—could cost them their careers. There is no absolution in the Marxist “woke” world where there is only the “oppressor” and the “oppressed,” a status determined primarily by skin color.
Nothing could be further from the charity commanded by Our Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Paul admonished all Christians that they should be “doing the truth in charity, we may in all things grow up in Him who is the head, even Christ.” (See Ephesians 4:15.) There is no truth in Critical Race Theory, only dubious “lived experiences” that change according to the circumstances of the moment.
There is only one source of Truth, which is recorded in John 14:6, in which Our Lord said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.”
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