A newly constituted version of the Fairbanks School Board’s Diversity Committee met earlier this month to explore ways of ramping up so-called “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) initiatives across the school district.
The unelected committee members serve as key advisors to the school board by submitting resolutions and recommendations for its approval.
At the Sept. 6 meeting, roughly a dozen committee members discussed the pros and cons of making DEI trainings mandatory for all staff and teachers. Most agreed that forcing people to undergo DEI training could lead to community backlash.
“If you’re going to make training mandatory, you better have a sound basis for it,” one committee member noted. “When you start crossing that line from talking about equality of opportunity to talking about equity, you are going into a different territory … Right now, it is so controversial that it is even being said that DEI training is unconstitutional, so we better be really careful with the recommendations that we make and make sure we are on solid ground with the training we provide.”
She called mandatory DEI training a “dangerous” idea.
The ultimate goal is to help the school board implement DEI ideology into all aspects of the school district’s culture.
“To say that you are going to have to spend taxpayer dollars to do training, you are going to get in trouble,” the member added. “I don’t recommend it.”
Controversy surrounding DEI consists in the fact that is a direct offshoot of critical race theory, the social philosophy that blames implicit and unconscious bias for so-called “structural racism” that DEI apologists say is responsible for “inequitable” outcomes across various racial and gender groups.
Most DEI programs focus on rewriting the country’s history and raising up a new generation of partisan activists who focus on a narrow set of issues dealing with race, sexuality and gender identity.
While acknowledging that DEI is a difficult sell in some circles, the Diversity Committee was intent on finding ways to advance the dogma without upsetting the Fairbanks community.
To begin, the committee aims to focus on less divisive topics, such as addressing issues associated with disabilities, but they also want to have a voice over who gets hired to serve as principals across the district because – as one committee member noted – these positions have a “huge” impact on how well schools implement DEI philosophy.
“We love the dancing and the drumming, and it’s part of our culture here in Fairbanks and Alaska, right?” she said. “How are we going to expose people to the more difficult topics? What about the transgender community?”Fairbanks School Board Diversity Committee member
At one point, the committee discussed the need to systematically inject DEI ideology across multiple platforms such as classroom curriculum, school events, voluntary staff training, hiring practices and school assemblies. The ultimate goal is to help the school board implement DEI ideology into all aspects of the school district’s culture.
Once the Diversity Committee is better established, members plan to branch out and promote the social agenda associated with the LGBTQ community.
At one point, committee members discussed strategies for how to “expose” students and staff to certain identity groups.
Member April Scott proposed starting off by highlighting Alaska Native Dancers.
While no one disagreed with the idea, one member noted that promoting Native Dancers was fairly easy and non-controversial in Fairbanks.
“We love the dancing and the drumming, and it’s part of our culture here in Fairbanks and Alaska, right?” she said. “How are we going to expose people to the more difficult topics? What about the transgender community, because I tell you what, I can’t think of anything we could do, exposure wise, that would not put us under fire. So, we can expose some, but then we’re going to shadow others. That’s my biggest struggle.”
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Scott fully agreed with the sentiment, but cautioned the group against coming out of the gate with an openly transgender agenda.
“We’re not there yet,” she said. “What you’re talking about is where we want to be when we are successful.”
Scott reiterated the need to initially focus on disabilities and Alaska Natives. That way the Diversity Committee could establish itself for the more challenging topics in the future.
“If we worry about every single thing all at the same time, we won’t make any progress. So, let’s take a first step,” she said. “We start with those small exposures, because, again, we’re developing really a parameter or a way that we do this – kind of a vehicle for it – so that way we can say, ‘Hey, that’s what we’re doing because we’ve developed a process.”
The Diversity Committee meets again in on Oct. 4, when it will further clarify its recommendations for the school board.
— Click here to apply to serve on the Diversity Committee.
— Click here to find out how to attend a Diversity Committee meeting.