“Our strength as a nation comes in our unity. We are the United States of America, not the divided states. And those who want to divide us are trying to divide us, and we shouldn’t let them do it.” ~ Ben Carson
If you haven’t noticed all across the country parents are taking a stand and running for school board positions in response to school districts that are failing their children’s education and pushing for Critical Race Theory (CRT) ideologies into the classrooms. Parents have discovered what has been hidden for many years by utilizing public record requests or having brave employees share what is being pushed onto their students.
The past two years in the Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) has shown me what direction our children’s education is heading. By now everyone has heard of the different terms used by school districts like Equity, Diversity, Social Justice, Social and Emotional Learning and more.
I received a public record request from the Peoria Unified School District that led me to question the district’s motives. A December 15th 2020, email from the district social studies curriculum coach, Jennifer Mundy, to The Diversity Committee (which included the President of the school board and the Superintendent) was showcasing the Tucson Unified School District’s Multicultural Education Mission Plan. Mundy wrote “It was brought to my attention that Tucson Unified School District has a Multicultural Education Mission/Plan outlined on their Curriculum and Instruction webpage. They also provide annotated bibliographies of multicultural resources. Additionally, within their social studies curriculum maps, they actually include social justice standards which come straight from Teaching Tolerance.”
Now everyone who knows me, knows I research anything I discover. When looking at the social justice standards that come from Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework the site states “20 anchor standards and 80 grade level outcomes organized into four domains – Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action- that reflect the desired impact of successful anti-bias and multicultural education on student personal and social development.” The goal of the standards seems to be focused on having students learn their identities while becoming social justice activists instead of learning academics.
I guess we must have missed when the Peoria Governing Board goals changed to center on students becoming social justice warrior over becoming academically prepared.
Peoria Unified School District has a 42% reading proficiency and Tucson Unified School District has 23% reading proficiency. Clearly there is work to be done on helping students learn how to read, so that needs to be the focus.
In the email from Peoria Unified School District Jennifer Mundy curriculum coach, she wrote “Tucson Unified also appears to have student services for different groups of students, and it looks like each of these is an actual department within their district. They also have a Multicultural Curriculum Department AND a Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Instruction Department.” She lists the following four different services from the Tucson District website: African American Student Services, Asian Pacific American Student Services, Mexican American Student Services and Native American Student Services.
This seems to be segregating the students into different groups which will lead to division instead of unity within the schools. One must ask, is this the direction in which Peoria Unified School District wants to proceed? Separating the students into categories based on their skin color?
In a December 15th 2020 email Peoria Unified School District Chief Personnel Officer (Now Student Support Coordinator) Dr. Carter Davidson shared a link that he thought had some good information to use during department training meetings. The link leads you to a website that asks: “How will you create racial equity in your workplace? Will you make changes to hiring and recruitment practices? Increase employee education around unconscious bias and respectful dialogue?”
The website in question has Conversation Starters to drive social injustices out of workplaces in America. Some of the conversation starters ask “Do you feel your organization has a responsibility to promote racial justice in the world? What types of new training has your organization provided on implicit/ unconscious bias, equity, inclusion or other diversity related topics? Have you sought out guidance or education on how to address your own implicit/unconscious bias?”
Is this truly how Peoria Unified School District views their staff and teachers? That the Peoria staff needs to address their implicit bias and that they are racists? Is this why during a meeting months ago, staff was asked to write down “When did they realize they were white?”
If this is the direction Peoria Unified is headed, we will lose all the wonderful teachers who are truly there to teach academics. It’s disheartening to realize that leadership believes they have racist teachers who all need to address their implicit bias.
The district should be listening to teachers concerns of how to help manage classroom learning, such as providing assistants to support struggling students. Another idea to question is with the ESSER federal funds, was there any decisions looked at for hiring tutors or reading/math interventionists for the students who have learning loss from the past two years?
So, will there be future department trainings for Peoria staff and teachers on recognizing their implicit bias in the workforce or will there be trainings to support teacher and students for academic success in the classrooms?
I can’t imagine why anyone would want to separate students in schools especially when it clearly states Peoria Unified or thinking our Peoria staff needs bias trainings. Therefore, I have taken a stand to run as a Peoria School Board Member in the upcoming election in November. I will work to return the focus to academics and restore the lost connections with parents and the community.
There needs to be redirection to resources and support to help our students learn the basics; which is the role of a school. At least that was the experience I had growing up in Peoria Unified School District.
So, when you are looking at your ballot this November for Peoria School Board ask yourself, do we want Peoria to be a school district unified in all ways possible or do we want to separate students and label teachers as racists? We can’t continue down this path of believing Peoria Unified School District students and teachers, the residents of Arizona and the United States of America to be systemically racist. It will divide us and not unite us. To paraphrase Ben Carson – our strength as a district comes in our unity.