A leak by a Madison Metropolitan School District employee in Madison, Wisconsin, reportedly revealed how school officials had embedded racial discriminatory practices into its elementary school instruction.
In an attempt to support disadvantaged children, MMSD had created and implemented a systematic method of priority treatment for minority students based on race, according to a Tuesday report analyzing "equity" in America's public education system by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
WILL looked at how "equity" manifests in practice at the local level.
MMSD's policy for "small instructional groups"—student grouping used to reinforce or reteach specific skills and foundational concepts through a reduced student-teacher ratio—contains an explicit racial classification.
According to the instructions leaked to WILL, elementary school teachers in the school district were instructed in 2022 to "[p]rioritize your African American students meeting with you first and more often." A screenshot of MMSD's race-based policy was included in WILL's report. WILL called the MMSD's alleged directive "a shocking example of blatant race discrimination in elementary education resulting from the district's devotion" to the idea of equity.
"But the discrimination does not stop there," WILL reported. "English learners (often the very minority students that 'equity' seems to target) are placed at the back of the line," WILL explained. "Prioritize your English Language learners meeting with you second and more often," MMSD's policy stipulates. Then teachers are supposed to "[g]roup the rest of the students after you've prioritized your AA [African American] and ELL [English Language learners] students."
"It's important that our small instructional groups are created based on what is best for students and the way our school is operating during this time of school reopening during a pandemic," the alleged message to educators is prefaced. "It is also important for us to prioritize and group our students inservice [sic] of our SIP, equity vision, and black excellence," the notice pivots, then lists the outlined steps teachers should take in creating the small instructional groups.
The gatherings were designed to encourage the absorption of materials taught in class. Such settings, per the MMSD document's language, were created to provide learning spaces for reading, foundational skills, and mathematics.
Prioritizing learning access based on race does not stop there.
In a similar policy initiated in August of 2021, MMSD, partnered with the city of Madison, provided a program where brown and black girls entering ninth grade in the area were the preferred demographic. In the description of "Dear Diary's 8th Grade Transitioning Program," officials explicitly laid out that in this youth program, girls of particular skin tones were the target applicants.
"Applications are open for Black/brown girls in the Madison area entering the 9th grade," the event's document advertising enrollment reads. "Space is limited."
In a 2021 grant application to expand the "Dear Diary" youth program, the event organizers explained that the initiative is "rooted in equity," noting that the "challenge with people of color is being transparent with who we are because everything we have learned is acceptable has been rooted in white supremacy."
Commenting on its findings before listing similar cases across America, WILL pointed out the irony behind the enforcement of "equity" in K-12 schooling.
"Schools use the phrase 'equity' as a shorthand to indicate that they are committed to identifying and eliminating all racial disparities," the statement reads. "While such goals may be laudable, the devil's clearly in the details. A school's method of eliminating racial disparities oftentimes includes treating students differently based on race. That's illegal. But schools either don't know this or don't care. As shown from the documents below, schools embracing 'equity' remain steadfast in their goal of equal outcomes for all students regardless of the consequences."
WILL warned readers against the use of the term "equity" to pass off these progressive practices as working in favor of sought-after "equality."
"In short, any use of the word 'equity' should raise red flags in the minds of parents who support principles of equality and non-discrimination," WILL said.
At the time of the report's publication, the Madison Metropolitan School District has not responded to The Post Millennial's request for comment.
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