- Teaches that the “systemic racism” of America’s “white culture” is the major cause of black and Hispanic students’ academic underachievement
- Charges six-figure sums to conduct “diversity training” in public school systems across the United States
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 News editorial 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.
Over the years, PEG has organized a number of “National Summits for Courageous Conversation” (NSCC), featuring workshops and seminars designed to make school teachers and administrators keenly aware of the ubiquity of white racism in virtually every facet of American society. Below (courtesy of PJ Media) are the official titles and descriptions of a number of NSCC workshops that were given between 2011 and 2015:
- White Privilege, White Responsibility: Deepening Our Commitment as White Allies in the Struggle for Racial Equity in Schools: To achieve racial equity in schools, all educators must be able to identify and communicate where their own personal whiteness plays out in classroom, school, and community systems. Deepen your ability to focus a critical lens on your own whiteness and privilege and see how they impact your life. Through the tenets of Critical Race Theory, analyze how society constructs whiteness as the dominant norm in the U.S. Explore what it means to be a white educator leading for racial equity without perpetuating a system of white dominance.
- It Ain’t H1N1, But It’s Just as Deadly: The Negative Effects of White Privilege for People of Color: Explore the realities of white privilege and the deep wounds that many people of color have felt due to this ugly reality. Hear historical perspectives and learn how the evolution of white privilege has been parented by white supremacy, racism, and institutional racism from the past to the present. Take a different look at white privilege and consider how many people of color have been conditioned to believe that they shouldn’t be afforded the privilege that white folks receive …
- From a Place of Privilege – Diversity to Equity: How One NYC Private School is Working to Establish Curriculum for Ongoing Racial Identity Development in Grades 5-8: Can ten-year-old White girls talk about race? Yes, with practice. Middle School aged children are rigid in their sense of fairness and resistant to the acknowledgement [sic] of difference. We use a curriculum built around the Courageous Conversation Protocol that supports the development of our students’ capacity to talk about race.
- The Very Minds of the People We Are Trying to Save: The Pathology of White Denial and The Pedagogy of Critical Race Theory for White Educators: Professional development about race that fails to interrogate adaptive problems contributes to the devastating impact of institutional racism in schools. Learn to [understand] the impact of white denial and white dialogic domination in interracial dialogue about racism. Analyze concepts of critical race theory to move from dysconsciousness to critical race consciousness, and see how it manifests in school culture, policies, and practices.
- Would You Like to Unpack That? Equity Coaching as a Means to Interrupt Systemic Racism and Improve Instructional Practice: Systemic racial equity change transpires when educators are given the space and support to critically reflect on their own racial consciousness and practice. Equity coaching provides sustained dialogue in a trusting environment to interrupt the presence of racism and whiteness.
- I Am George Zimmerman: A Courageous Conversation about White Supremacy, White Privilege, and Oppression: Examine issues of white supremacy, white privilege, and other forms of oppression in this interactive session. Explore how they show up in our thoughts, interactions, institutions, and cultural practices – creating divisive environments and outcomes, despite our best intentions.
- Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud! An Unapologetic Infusion of Afrocentrism in Classroom Instruction: The current paradigm of classroom instruction has the potential to render our Black students invisible without explicit examination of the structural and cultural forces that reify racial inequities. Learn how Eurocentric classroom patterns impact racial identify development and learning for students of color. Explore the meaning and importance of Afrocentric instruction, and discover the benefits for students, teachers, and the school community. Leave with strategies for designing Afrocentric lessons and decentering whiteness in your classroom.
- Voices from the Classroom: An Afro-Rican High School Student’s Perspective on Race, Colorblindness, and Education: When teachers claim to be “colorblind” it gives them an excuse not to try and understand different racial experiences, it also takes away a big part of their students of color identity. In this session, participants will have an opportunity to hear the narrative of a student of color. She will share examples of what she had to give up of herself on a daily basis to succeed according to white cultural norms …
- Accelerate the Achievement of Students of Color by Decentering Whiteness in School Discipline: Students of color demonstrate accelerated achievement when they are welcomed into a culturally responsive school environment that prioritizes their presence, engagement, and learning. Explore and practice preventative/interventional measures that address student behaviors before they result in out of school time… Leave with a perspective on an inclusive approach to school discipline and how this approach can accelerate the learning of students of color.
- Detour Spotting for White Racial Equity Leaders: For White people in schools, learning to become a racial equity leader is a re-education process. Understand how we take detours as we work to become racially literate and engage in race talk….
- Why We All “Can’t” Get Along…A Courageous Conversation About Truth, Healing and Human Reconciliation: The construction of race and racism has exacted deep physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma upon all to whom it has been imposed, enforced and reified. The loss of humanity experienced by resisters and proponents litter the conscience and landscape of the peoples, cultures and structures of the United States. In this seminar, two native sons of Indigenous and African descent explore understanding and healing from racism, racial trauma and white domination of thought and knowledge …
As of 2015, nearly 200 school districts across the United States had hired PEG to train their teachers and develop student curricula. For a list of these districts, click here.
For additional information on PEG, click here.