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Virginia county spends nearly half a million on race programs for schools

A public school system in Virginia is spending at least half-a-million dollars on programs designed to counter systemic bias and oppression, the latest of many controversial initiatives connected to critical race theory.

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West Nova News reported on Friday that Loudoun County Public Schools was paying more than $50,000 to the California-based Equity Collaborative, which says it focuses on uncovering “personal and institutional biases that prevent all people and especially people of color, from reaching their fullest potential.” 

The core tenets of its work are “oppression analysis, learning theory and coaching for change.”

Since 2018, the consulting firm and its owner have received $422,500 from the county. According to The Washington Free Beacon, that included $90,000 in salary for Jamie Almanzan, the owner who is described as an equity leadership coach and $120,000 for an eight-day “systemic equity assessment.” Much of the money — $314,000 — was directed in 2019 towards coachng and training sessions.

Loudoun was just one of many school districts to embrace this type of curriculum amid a wave of racial tension surrounding high-profile police encounters with Black Americans.

The rapidly-spreading focus on oppression, structural racism and unconscious bias is generally considered to be an outgrowth of critical race theory. After researcher Chris Rufo identified a slew of related trainings in federal agencies, President Trump banned them via executive order.

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“This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans,” the order reads.

He also signed an order in November designed to promote what he called “patriotic education” and to push back on the idea that the country is “irredeemably and systemically racist.” The order includes having a two-year “1776 Commission” publish a report on the core principles of the nation and advise the federal government on how to prioritize founding principles in grants and other activities. 

The county did not immediately respond to Fox News’ inquiry. A Loudoun County public information officer, Wayde Byard, told West Nova News that critical race theory wasn’t taught to elementary school students.

“Teachers follow the LCPS curricula to educate students to understand various perspectives so that they can think critically and develop individual viewpoints. LCPS wants to affirm diverse perspectives by engaging teachers and students in deeper learning around cultural literacy and authentic, challenging problems, including issues of justice and equity,” Byard said.

Proponents of critical race theory emphasize its role in countering bias against minority communities.

On its website, the Equity Collaborative argues: “Creating equity requires an understanding of the creation of systemic oppression, as well as the way well-intentioned individuals perpetuate inequities through cultural schema and implicit bias. In order to interrupt biases and inequities, you must understand how human brains learn and grow over time. In this work, the brains of both children and adults must be understood and supported. To provide that support, we believe in using a coaching approach as our primary intervention for provoking change and sustaining new practices over time.”

M.E. Hart, an attorney who has conducted diversity training sessions for businesses and the federal government, told The Washington Post that it can improve morale, cooperation and efficiency.

“If we are going to live up to this nation’s promise — ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ — we have to see each other as human beings and we have to do whatever it takes, including taking whatever classes make that possible,” Hart told the Post. “These classes have been very powerful in allowing people to do that and we need them more than ever. There’s danger here.”

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