What Is Your Child Really Learning in Middle School?

Recently, ION Television cited Oman Frame in their "Everyday Heroes" segment for his work on race, gender, and class.  Those last three words caught my attention, since white privilege is a constant meme in the academic world. 

Frame teaches 7th and 8th grade in southwest Atlanta.  He is a charismatic man who bonds easily with students of either race.  Martha Caldwell also works with Oman Frame.  She wrote "Inquiry into identity: Teaching critical thinking through a study of race, class, and gender."  Comments about their workshops for middle school students include this from a parent:

To say that these two dynamic teachers caused the scales to fall from the eyes of our white children of privilege would be an understatement. Both our children became increasingly aware of the vastly different lives others live, and the hugely uneven playing field that results when society bases its treatment of people on distinctions like household income, skin color, gender, or sexual orientation. Their concern continues to propel them to act in ways that reject the dehumanizing biases of the status quo. I fully expect this to continue for the rest of their lives.

A student responded by writing:

Race, Class and Gender was an amazing class for me. It helped me in so many ways, from seeing the oppression I face to the oppression others face to helping me grow stronger emotionally. It's given me a sense of identity and pride in myself, where I came from and the progress I've made. Now I see the world so differently.

Frame and Caldwell believe in dynamic dialogues.  Thus:

A line of 60 eighth graders spans the campus green. Side by side, they hold onto each other's hands. Sam*, a white male, is standing next to Luis*, a Mexican-American immigrant. 'Step forward if your parents own your home,' the facilitator calls. Sam steps forward, and he tightens his grip on Luis' hand.

'Take one step back if you have ever been followed or questioned by security while shopping.' Luis takes a step back, and though Sam tries to hold on to his hand, the distance between them is too great and he feels Luis's hand slip.

'Take a step forward if you can arrange to be in the company of people the same race as you most of the time,' the facilitator calls. Sam steps forward, and as the gap between them widens, he becomes aware of a sinking feeling in his stomach. He looks back and sees that he has moved ahead of all of the girls and students of color.

Sam is beginning to realize his privilege. On one hand, he wants to keep up with the boys ahead of him. On the other hand, when he realizes many of his classmates have not had his advantages, he feels guilty.

Thus, white children are stigmatized and branded.

Frame and Caldwell write that students "begin to see the bigger picture of how social oppression operates in institutions like government, economics, politics, religion and schooling.  Along the way, many of them commit to each other as advocates, allies and activists."

Finally, "inspired by feelings of solidarity, ... students devour material about race bias in the criminal justice system[.]"

I doubt whether Heather MacDonald's article debunking racial bias in the criminal justice system is analyzed.  In fact, Frame writes that he wished "they allowed the kids to get into the real core of the conversation; they were kinda [sic] upset that they didn't show them talking in great depth about the micro aggressions and white privilege. also [sic] they didn't put ANY of the conversations about Ferguson or NY . . . . bummed but its [sic] a start (December 9, 2014 at 10:22 a.m.)[.]"

Could I surmise that the actual evidence about Ferguson and New York was overlooked because it didn't fit the white privilege narrative?

In 1995, Whiteness Studies began as a small fringe movement in the academic world.  But "as David Horowitz has observed, Whiteness Studies is different in kind from other ethnocentric disciplines: 'Black Studies celebrates blackness, Chicano Studies celebrates Chicanos, Women's Studies celebrates women, and White[ness] Studies attacks white people as evil.'"

At the middle school level, educators would probably temper the white-people-are-evil message.  But clearly, white students imbibe the notion that they are guilty as a result of their melanin levels while other students are victims because of their race or gender. 

So much so that Oliver Darcy in February 2013 could report that The University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS) sponsored "a campaign that teaches students it is 'unfair' to be white."  The project named the "Unfair Campaign," teaches students that "systems and institutions are set up for . . .  [whites] and as such are unfair."  In fact, "the campaign's slogan, as it appears on its official website, is 'it's hard to see racism when you're White.'"

Martha Caldwell has written:

The insights students gain . . . provide the perfect segue into reading an article about 'white privilege' [.] Our white students often begin to see that they are the recipients of a host of privileges as a result of their skin color. An authentic question routinely arises . . . — How did this happen? We suggest that the answer to this question lies in history [.] A crucial part of each group's assignment is the creation [of] . . . timelines [that] help the students see larger historical and political trends involving dominance and oppression over time in a variety of contexts.

Can we predict that this will result in a distortion of the full historical record?

In effect, this so-called diversity and inclusiveness operates by balkanizing and separating people into racial and gender components.  It is one-dimensional and self-limiting, and it invites unwarranted guilt.  Isn't making children feel ashamed of their skin color "repulsive," whether that color is black or white?  Yet examples abound here and here and here.

At the iChange Collaborative, Oman Frame is "active in coordinating Race Day, ... that gives voice to the unique experiences of students of color ... , and Gender Day, a day of focus on the struggle for gender equity."

Are Frame and Caldwell enlightening or indoctrinating?  Are they mixing an anti-white, Marxist-oriented message for youngsters that will ultimately create a climate where whites are to "flagellate" themselves and embrace white guilt?  How would they respond to Walter Williams, who unmasks this "devious indoctrination"? 

As a concerned parent or guardian, have you inquired about these programs, which are held in school as well as after school?  Can you obtain a copy of the curriculum and handouts?  And, if not, why not?  Who are the speakers?  What exactly do speakers who espouse "social justice" actually want?  Do you ask your children what they are being taught?  Why do they like the speakers?  What kinds of activities are done?  Are they ever confused or uncomfortable about these workshops?  In what way?  Do they understand why they are learning these ideas?

Would you consider calling ION Television and asking if they understand what is actually being promoted, and whether Oman Frame is entitled to be considered an "everyday hero?"

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@gmail.com.