The U.S. Department of Education has reversed a prior decision that declared numerous public school systems’ racial “affinity groups” to be discriminatory practices, according to the New York Post.
After an anonymous teacher’s complaint from a Chicago-area school district, the Trump Administration’s Department of Education launched an investigation in 2019 into a practice where schools would divide students into different groups based on their race, and conduct lectures with each group to discuss such fictional concepts as “White privilege” and “systemic racism.”
The practices carried out in the Evanston-Skokie School District were found to be in violation of civil rights law under Title 6. Among the practices that were found to be blatantly racist and discriminatory were “racially exclusive affinity groups” that not only separated students, but also parents and community members by their race, as well as an “explicit direction” policy that directed teachers to consider a student’s race when determining disciplinary action. The practices also involved a “Colorism Privilege Walk,” where White students would be told to step forward ahead of their non-White classmates, and would be shamed in front of the entire class for their “privilege.”
The formal report of the DOE’s findings, drafted by the Department’s Office of Civil Rights enforcement director Carol Ashley, was released on January 6th of this year. Ashley confirmed that the findings could also extend far beyond Chicago and have implications for public school systems nationwide, and the teacher who first submitted the anonymous complaint also received a direct call from Ashley confirming the findings.
However, on January 22nd, the same teacher received another call from Ashley, informing her that the findings and any further investigation were being suspended indefinitely by the new Biden Administration, as part of Biden’s new executive orders aimed at giving special privileges and treatment to non-White students and LGBT students. This meant that the Chicago district, and any others around the country that implemented these practices, could continue carrying them out without any further interference by the federal government.
The suspension of the investigation was further confirmed by Superintendent Devon Horton of the Evanston-Skokie district, who said that “last month, the proceedings were suspended by the [Office of Civil Rights] pending its reconsideration of the case in light of the executive orders on racial equity issued by President Biden.”
Continuing to speak anonymously to the press, the teacher in question simply said that “I am concerned with staff and student safety due to the Department of Education Title VI violation findings.”