The Pacific Educational Group (PEG) was founded in 1992 by Glenn Singleton, a self-described “diversity expert” who holds a master's degree in education from Stanford University and has served as an adjunct professor of educational leadership at San José State University since 2004.
Citing the “systemic racism” of “white culture” as the major cause of the schools' “failure to educate and engage black, brown, and Native American Indian students,” PEG promotes the tenets of critical race theory (developed principally by Derrick Bell) in many public elementary and high schools nationwide. According to PEG, the existing “white”—and therefore racist—school curricula not only fail to address the needs of minority pupils, but also impose upon those youngsters “traditional norms of assessment” that are inappropriate for their “cultural backgrounds.” Further, “the system,” failing to recognize “the unique circumstances” against which African Americans “in our society” must constantly struggle, “institutionalizes practices that marginalize, and perhaps criminalize, black males.” To address these problems, PEG advocates a “systemic transformation” of the nation's educational apparatus.
In 2005 Glenn Singleton co-authored Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools. This book later became the basis of PEG's “Courageous Conversations” program of instruction, which was designed to improve black and Hispanic students' academic performance by first raising classroom teachers' awareness of the “ubiquity of white privilege and racism,” and then training them to purge those elements from their schools.
In its training sessions, PEG claims that “white talk” is “verbal, impersonal, intellectual and task-oriented,” while “color commentary” is “nonverbal, personal, emotional and process-oriented” (i.e., not conducive to arriving at correct answers in an educational setting); that African Americans are commonly loud and need to have that trait accommodated in the schools; that white teachers are culpable for the underperformance of minority students, even though the racial achievement gap is equally present in classes taught by minority teachers; and that it would be “racist” to assign any responsibility for minority underperformance to the students themselves.
Singleton claims that PEG has introduced these worldviews to “hundreds” of schools in the U.S., in the form of “diversity training” programs founded on the Courageous Conversations model. In exchange for this instruction, PEG routinely charges hundreds of thousands of dollars to the school systems that commission it. One noteworthy client is the Seattle school system, which first invited PEG to help the district's teachers become more racially sensitive in 2002. There, PEG has taught that racism is an exclusively white trait; that “individualism” (as promoted by independent classroom assignments) is a form of “cultural racism” that benefits whites over blacks; and that “future time orientation” (i.e., planning ahead) is a white characteristic that minorities cannot be expected to display.
In 2006 the Cherry Creek school system, located in a suburb of Denver, likewise hired PEG for a six-figure sum to run a diversity-training initiative. A Rocky Mountain Newseditorial observed that this program “promotes a world view in which American society is relentlessly oppressive”; where “individuals, even today, remain at the mercy of their racial origins”; and where “enlightened whites ... speak in the chastened, cringing language of someone who has emerged from a re-education camp.”
From 2007-2012, the Rochester, New York school system paid PEG more than $200,000 to hold a series of diversity-training seminars. According to one Rochester school board member, “It makes people feel ashamed, mainly whites. It’s like we can’t help people of color because we’re living with the sins and actions of people many, many years ago.”
In 2007 California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, hired PEG to address the racial achievement gap between black and white students in his state. After completing the PEG training, O'Connell concluded that the existing gap was “absolutely, positively” due to the fact that “we're all guilty” of having “institutionalized lower expectations” for young blacks.
Other school systems that have signed PEG to six-figure diversity-training contracts include those of Arlington, Virginia; Greenwich, Connecticut; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Madison, Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin philosophy professor Harry Brighouse said the following about PEG's Courageous Conversations program in Madison: “It’s a kind of involuntary therapy session—the kind of thing that my friends who used to be in obscure Maoist organizations report having gone through regularly.... It is all about the racism inherent in the schools, and particularly in the attitudes of teachers.”
In 2011, Russlyn Ali, President Barack Obama’s Assistant Secretary for the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education, accepted an award from PEG at a Courageous Conversations conference in San Francisco.