Higher Education: Junk Science & Hard Left Turn

Oct 28, 2018 by

School reformers embrace junk science and performative wokeness

This July, in sunny San Diego, Calif., a thousand educators from 27 states gathered for an immersive five-day meeting. The Standards Institute, hosted twice annually by New York–based UnboundEd, provides “standards-aligned” training in English-language arts, mathematics, and leadership. What differentiates UnboundEd is how it slathers its Common Core workshops with race-based rancor and junk science — and the snapshot it provides into the ongoing transformation of “school reform.”

UnboundEd CEO Kate Gerson opened the institute, telling the assembled: “If you are under the impression that there are good white people and bad white people, you’re wrong.” Gerson informed her charges that racial biases are pervasive, universal, and something “you cannot be cured from.”

For this reason, UnboundEd’s training in reading and math instruction is “grounded in conversations about the roles that race, bias and prejudice play in our schools and classrooms.” Its Standards Institute prepares educators to be “Equity Change-Agents.” To become one, participants are told, they must first acknowledge that “we are part of a systematically racist system of education” and recognize that “we have participated in this paradigm through instruction and pedagogy.” As its “Bias Toolkit” explains, UnboundEd sees its mission as “disrupting patterns of implicit bias, privilege, and racism in ourselves, our organization, and in the education field.”

UnboundEd is not the brainchild of some education school. Rather, it boasts an impressive list of reform-minded “partners,” including the likes of Achieve­ment Network, The New Teacher Project, Leading Educators, New Leaders, and Student Achievement Partners — not counting the charter-school networks that ship teachers to its institutes. As of 2017, UnboundEd had pocketed more than $20 million in philanthropy — including millions from New Profit, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Hewlett Foundation, and more than $11 million from the Gates Foundation.

Ironically, UnboundEd helps validate some of the most far-out conspiracy theories that have been spun about the Common Core. UnboundEd was born of EngageNY — an entity, supported by millions of dollars in Obama-era Race to the Top funds, created to provide Common Core curricula for New York’s classrooms. In 2015, Gerson and several colleagues left EngageNY to start UnboundEd, seeking to train educators how to teach Common Core reading and math. Once upon a time, Common Core critics were roundly mocked for fearing that the reading and math standards would somehow serve to promote sweeping ideological agendas; today, Gerson and her team are doing their best to vindicate those concerns.

Because progressives fancy themselves empiricists, UnboundEd’s exertions come complete with data points crafted to illuminate America’s inescapable, repressive biases. Thus, Gerson’s Institute-opening presentation recounted a laundry list of sectors that “exhibit bias” — from health care to Hollywood.

continue: Higher Education: Junk Science & Hard Left Turn | National Review

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