Opinion » Shredder

Aggressively white


Indoctrinated students, white kids in danger, and someone else pulling the strings. It sounds like a rally for Donald Trump's next run at emperor in chief, doesn't it?


Sorry to disappoint all you lovers and haters out there, but you'll need to turn your attention to the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, the most controversial and apparently, paranoid, conspiracy-believing school board in SLO County! At an April 13 meeting, board members expressed those concerns about a proposed elective course designed by a high school teacher who's taught at the district for more than 20 years.

Yes, an elective! A choice. Not a requirement.

But, but, it's a course in—and here's a trigger warning for all you über conservatives out there—ethnic studies. Gasp!

Can I get a round of slow claps for the majority white school board elected by the Paso community and their inability to get away from sounding more than just a little—dare I say—racist? Oh whoops, I mean, aggressively against public education about non-white groups and their history in the American story if it makes white people look, you know, bad.

It needs to be more "balanced," several board members argued in two separate meetings, and incorporate the white perspective. So, what about all of the other classes taught at Paso Robles High School? Do they need to be more "balanced" and incorporate the non-white perspective? Nah!

Board member Dorian Baker, who called the course "poison" in a now-deleted Facebook post, was super concerned that the course focused on "themes of social justice, social responsibility, and social change."

"It's those concepts that are troubling to many of the people that reach out to me," she said.

Oh no! Responsibility, justice, and change. That's not what America's about! We are individuals who have bootstraps! We can't poison our children with truth! We need to teach our students about how little needs to change in America and how exceptional this country is—even if some of its past is a little shady. You know, be more like the North Koreans.

That sounds like indoctrination to me. But board members are more worried about Marxism, which Baker said may not be directly named in this ethnic studies curriculum, but "it dresses it up so that it can be taught at the high school level."

Yeah, totally, Baker. Understanding more about America's complicated history with immigrants and people of color is definitely communist. We should call Joseph McCarthy. He needs to be alerted about the potential for student activism that could come from this course!

She even accused the 22-year-veteran social studies teacher who created the curriculum—Geoffrey Land—of not actually developing the course. It must have come from Cal Poly, she surmised. It's the only thing that makes sense!

Fellow board buddy and higher education hater Jim Reed also said "somebody else had some hand in" the course's creation.

"Somebody has decided what ethnicities are more disadvantaged, or, you know, have a better story," he said. "And to me, this is kind of, it's dividing ethnicities up rather than celebrating them."

Well, Jimmy, I've got to say, policy, data, history, and population sizes really speak for themselves when it comes to deciding what ethnicities America has divided up.

We interned Japanese Americans during World War II, for example. Oh, and those were American citizens, too! We enslaved African Americans for hundreds of years. We murdered Native American tribes because we wanted their land. We took a giant swath of land from Mexico in a war and have argued over Mexican American border policies for more than 30 years.

You know, little things.

Meanwhile, board member Lance Gannon is extremely concerned about student safety, saying "right now there were probably students at the high school that are scared to even say anything against this course for the reprisals that they will get." Oh. OK.

Kind of like the pushback the board got after its March 23 meeting on the ethnic studies course, where members expressed their initial concerns about the course being a little too ethnic.

"Students who elect to take this class are going to look at the white students differently," Gannon said at the March meeting.

I got news for you, Gannon—the students who elect to take this class have already had experiences that cause them to look at certain white students "differently." They're the same students who some people demanded get expelled for protesting on their lunch break.

The craziest part about the whole conversation is that Paso High School taught an ethnic studies course at least two different times in the past, starting in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, board member Chris Arend—yeah, the guy who wrote that opinion piece about how systemic racism is a myth without a trace of irony—was just exasperated with all these people speaking Spanish in their public comments! I guess since he doesn't speak Spanish, he doesn't realize that the Paso School District's Spanish translation of the board meetings is barely audible—a big problem for the majority Latino district with almost 1,500 students classified as English language learners.

But he did say: "I'm convinced it's not going to be a course indoctrinating students to dislike folks of other races or anything like that." Δ

The Shredder is convinced the board is indoctrinated. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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