Illinois Mom: PEG Trained Teachers on 'Institutional Racism'

“Mary” is an Evanston, IL mother whose children have attended local public schools from kindergarten through high school.

She noticed the recent debate on CNN and over Derrick Bell's Critical Race Theory--and to her, it was nothing new.

She has seen elements of Critical Race Theory introduced into teacher and staff training at Evanston Township High School by the Pacific Educational Group (PEG) in recent several years.

“It just sounded familiar from what I see happening in the schools,” says Mary, who spoke to on the condition that she remain anonymous. “This has already been going on in my own town, in the school my children attend. It’s alive and well and happening.”

When Mary first received notice that District 202, which runs Evanston Township High School, was going to hire PEG to teach the teachers, administrators and staff about “institutional racism”, she and her husband set out to find out a little more about PEG and learned about Critical Race Theory.

“It basically says white people are at fault. My husband and I are the racist ones, didn’t you know?" Mary says in exasperation. "We considered sending our son to a private school. It was all too much.”

As the video below indicates, PEG and Critical Race Theory were controversial, even in left-leaning Evanston, and led to open arguments among board members at school board meetings. 

One defended PEG: "They were brought in to raise our awareness about race relations, about what it means to be white in this society, and what it means to be not-white in this society."

Another responded: "There are lot of issues, a lot of problems, a lot of racial problems in Evanston, but I don't think lack of sufficient attention to the issue of race is something that Evanston suffers from."

The results of the district’s ties to PEG soon spoke for themselves, according to Mary. School officials lowered expectations in honors programs in various subjects in an attempt to create more equity among students of different races.

“I noticed things in the curriculum…an emphasis on certain books. They kicked out the classics and a put in books that were less challenging,” Mary says.

Mary spoke at greater length with about Critical Race Theory and PEG in the Evanston schools.

Q: Describe your experience with PEG and critical race theory.

A: In 2007 or so, District 202, which runs Evanston High School, hired Pacific Educational Group (PEG) to do a study and find out what they were determined to find out.

Q: Which was what?

A: They were determined to prove that there was institutional racism. They said that there is an achievement gap in grades 9-12 because of “institutional racism.” So, they came swooping in with all their studies and their staff to train the teachers and administrators how to teach and communicate in a non-racist way. They had to sell the idea that if they teach in a different way, the achievement gap would close.  It was outrageous -- the racist stuff going on -- not against the black community, but against whites. They were convinced there was white institutionalized racism.

Q: Why is that outrageous?

A: Because we’ve entrusted our children to a school district where over 50% of the teachers and administrators are black. They would tell us: “the institutional racism is so subtle nobody -- not even the black community -- knows that it’s institutionalized. So we have to come in show you it’s real and then teach you how to do things differently.” It’s a boondoggle gravy train. It’s a scam.

Q: Why is it a scam?

A: Have you seen how much it costs? It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to survey teachers, administrators and go through counseling.

If you just go to their website, you see they’ve already pre-determined that there is “institutional racism.” So they say they have to do a study and what does their study say? Oh! It says exactly what they already said it was going to say. They get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for this.

They had school board meetings and people were called racist if they didn’t go along with it. Then they said well maybe we should do this for District 65, which is K-8. But it doesn’t make sense because over 50% of the teachers and administrators in Evanston, and the superintendent, are African-American.

Q: What has been the result?

A: Well, for me and my husband, we were made to feel the problems were our fault -- as though we’re racist. And that, somehow, we were partly responsible. But how can that be when we’ve entrusted our kids to the schools and 50% of their teachers are African American. How does that make us racist? Just walk through the schools. Every month is Black History Month.

Q: Then how do you account for the “achievement gap”?

A:  Well, it could be the break-up of the family. The school bends over backwards to lift up black self esteem to give them role models. Even at the cultural level. Walk through the halls--there are posters of rappers next to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Who are these rappers?

They have cultural black icons. One of the options in the high school was an “honors” English class where the kids got to choose books about a minority, and one of the options was a biography of the rapper 50 Cent.  I asked the teacher why this was an option in an honors English class.

I heard the lyrics for his songs. All this will encourage the kids to listen to this man’s music, and where will that lead them?  He hates women and the talks about knives, drugs. They establish a low standard. I told my son that was not a choice for him. I was annoyed at the books they offered. They took out a Charles Dickens book and put in in The Alchemist.  Dickens is about 350 pages; The Alchemist is about 150 pages. On the surface, The Alchemist is a “follow your dreams”, New-Agey book. Dickens is about good and evil, right and wrong—it gives a moral compass. The Alchemist sounds all good and is much less challenging.

Q: Well, isn’t it commendable that they are trying to meet the children’s needs?

A:  Well, they can flip it and say “yes but for the kids who have a hard time reading -- this kind of book will help them because he [50 Cent] got out of the projects, he made it big time.” But there’s no literary quality. If you have to go in that direction this should be in a remedial English class. It doesn’t belong in the “honors” curriculum.

Q: If you want to showcase black achievement, what would you have them include as a choice?

A: How about biographies of professor and economist Walter Williams. Or Thomas Sowell, [or] the brain surgeon Ben Carson out of Johns Hopkins. He wrote a book called Gifted Hands. He is one stand-up guy and you know what he said? He said when he looks at a brain, he can’t tell if it’s black or white. And he never saw himself as a victim. He was—you have to see the movie, Gifted Hands. That movie needs to be shown to every person in District 65 or 202. Everybody! It should be in the school systems. The movie is amazing—his mom had episodes of depression, he didn’t have a dad. Never met him. But look at what he accomplished and how he succeeded.

Jasmine Velasco contributed to this report.


Evanston School Board


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