This news story could (and should) come from Babylon Bee or Saturday Night Live, but, unfortunately, it comes from Evanston, Illinois on Chicago’s tony North Shore, where “progressives” live and move and have their being.
Evanston Township High School (ETHS) offers racially segregated academic classes, euphemistically named “affinity classes” to conceal their sordid foundation and connection to historical racism. Apparently, separate but equal is not as malignant to leftists as they have long purported it is.
On Nov. 26, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that “Nearly 200 Black and Latino students at Evanston Township High School signed up this year for math classes and a writing seminar intended for students of the same race, taught by a teacher of color.” The classes offered are “GANAS Algebra 2, Precalculus and AP Calculus AB for Latinx students and AXLE English 2, Precalculus and AP Calculus AB for Black students.” I kid you not.
District leaders rationalize these “optional so-called affinity classes,” alleging that they “are designed to address the achievement gap by making students feel more comfortable in class.”
Racially segregated “affinity” groups, socially constructed by leftists, have been on the academic scene for decades metastasizing from academia to lower grades, first in extracurricular clubs and now spreading into curricular classes, like those at ETHS.
The WSJ explains how ETHS manages to engage in de facto violations of antidiscrimination law without consequence: “Federal antidiscrimination laws prevent public schools from mandatorily separating students by race, but education lawyers say optional courses can comply with the law.”
This malignant development did not spring spontaneously from the fertile imaginations of ETHS leaders. Over a decade ago, the district began collaborating with infamous race-grifter Glenn Singleton, founder of the Pacific Education Group (PEG) which has been renamed Courageous Conversations after moving its headquarters from California to Washington D.C.
Tom Hayden, writing on the FOIA Gras blog, provides shocking details about the district’s expenditure of over one million dollars in taxpayer funds for PEG-related services. Hayden reveals that PEG is a for-profit venture.
ETHS also availed themselves of the services of Christine Saxman, a devotee of Glenn Singleton, a presenter at several White Privilege Conferences, and a former colleague of mine in the English Department at Deerfield High School, which, like ETHS wasted taxpayer money on Singleton.
In 2021, Evanston Township High School “hosted an in-person evening Open House on Aug. 30 for parents and students that included sessions within racial affinity spaces … as well as an anti-racist session facilitated by racial and social justice trainer Christine Saxman."
Several years ago, I wrote the following about Glenn Singleton’s brief tenure in District 113, which is composed of Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools and which had received a federal grant of thousands of dollars because Highland Park High School (HPHS) had failed to make “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP).
AYP is a tool for measuring how well a district’s students perform on standardized tests under the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. The reason HPHS’ scores on standardized tests failed to make AYP is that HPHS has a sizeable Hispanic population. Most of these families do not have the financial resources available for private subject area and test-prep tutors as many Highland Park and Deerfield families do, and in many of these families, English is not spoken at home. To be clear, District 113 had received a hefty federal grant to help Hispanic students score better on standardized tests. And what did the administration and school board choose to do with those taxpayer dollars? Between spring 2007 and spring 2008, District 113, using both the federal grant and some district money, spent approximately $83,000 to hire the San Francisco-based shyster Glenn Singleton and representatives from his Pacific Educational Group to come seven times to District 113 to teach employees about their “whiteness.” Every time Singleton or his representative came, every administrator, every department chair, two teachers from every department and area (e.g., multi-media, custodial pool, technology, secretarial pool) from both high schools attended all-day meetings during which they discussed their “whiteness.” This meant that all the participating employees missed seven days of work or classes. The $83,000 included $53,000 for Pacific Educational Group’s fees, travel expenses, and per diem; $10,000 for hiring substitute teachers for all the teachers who were absent from class to attend the all-day indoctrination seminars; and $20,000 to feed all the district attendees at the swanky Highland Park Country Club where the meetings took place. Ironically, both Singleton and his facilitators explicitly stated at the time that neither he nor his book (Courageous Conversations) on which his “consultations” were based provided any solutions for the problem of underperformance of minority students on standardized tests. Singleton also preposterously claimed that neither poverty, nor language issues at home, nor lack of family support, nor family mobility contributes to the racial learning gap. The causes, Singleton claimed, are “institutional racism” and “whiteness.” Singleton also declared that anyone who disagrees with his preposterous theories is “gifted at subverting reform.” He explicitly exempted Indians and Asians from the category of “persons of color.” Why would that be? If America is systemically racist against persons of color, and if this systemic racism is the cause of the underperformance of students of color on standardized tests, why exempt them? And why do Indians and Asians manage to excel on standardized tests in the face of systemic racism? Could it be that Singleton tacitly admitted—and hoped no one would notice—that language issues, lack of family support, mobility, or poverty may, indeed, contribute to the racial learning gap? Could it be that systemic racism didn’t exist in District 113? I asked the District 113 School Board and administration at the time how even in theory would having secretaries, custodians, and teachers miss school to talk about their “whiteness” at the Highland Park Country Club help minority students improve their test scores. They offered no answer–as in they literally said nothing. Imagine if the educationally and economically disadvantaged Hispanic community had known the shameful truth that District 113 had had thousands of dollars available to help their children score better on standardized testing and used it instead to line Singleton’s pockets while district employees talked about their whiteness and noshed at the Highland Park Country Club.
Why was this injustice not exposed by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times? Why were social justice warriors not incensed by it?
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) too is invested in promoting racism through affinity groups:
The Illinois State Board of Education is establishing affinity groups for educators of color. … The affinity groups are part of ISBE's three-year Strategic Plan to support educator retention by leveraging partnerships that will provide access to coaching, mentoring, and teacher leadership opportunities. … The Illinois Affinity Group Facilitators Network is led by and for teachers of color. … The affinity groups have access to implementation funds to support group activities, including stipends for participants serving on advocacy action teams. (emphasis added)
The ISBE website provides a link to the all the “affinity groups” by Illinois county. Here you will discover, for example, that Gurnee District 56 offers an affinity group that focuses on “racial and other identity markers,” including “Afro-Latinx, Black/African American, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), Latinx, Men & Women/Female/Male Identifying, Middle Eastern, North African” and “Nonbinary, LGBTQ+.”
And the Naperville Community School District 203 “affinity space seeks to create a safe space for black educators to feel supported in being their authentic self. Within the space educators will be encouraged to uplift their voices to advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
It takes leftists practiced at the art of deception to recast racially segregated classrooms as affinity spaces for safe spaces for authenticity and upliftment.
What the news from Evanston teaches us is that when leftists claim that racism is “systemic” and “institutional,” they know whereof they speak.