News Story

Okemos schools partner with CRT group for mandatory teacher training

Michigan schools continue to stray from the basics

Okemos Public Schools is requiring its staff to participate in anti-bias and anti-racist activities through a course created by the Justice Leaders Collaborative Core. In a draft plan of equity-focused programs, the district says it hopes to develop a “district culture in which students, staff, families and community members” prepare for a diverse world.

The services-for-educators tab on the Justice Leaders website it describes the training as:

An intensive seminar for school personnel who seek to deepen their understanding of a commitment to equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice along lines of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. It notes that participants must deeply reflect and challenge their assumptions and worldviews.

Expected outcomes for the mandatory trainings include increased awareness of implicit bias and microaggressions.

The definition of microaggressions is “indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group.” The group also encourages educators to incorporate the knowledge into their practice. In other words, teach this to children.

There are several workshops and courses offered on Justice Leaders website. It is unclear which classes Okemos educators will be required to attend. There was no response to a request for comment from John Hood, superintendent of Okemos Public Schools.

One workshop offered with 16 training hours is titled “White People Working for Racial Justice.” The description for the workshop says it is designed for white people to learn together in an affinity space. Participants will “make mistakes, work through defensiveness and guilt, and examine fears without burdening People of Color in the process.”

Justice Leaders also invites white people to understand the privilege they carry.

The organization encourages schools to teach children as young as kindergarten about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it has developed training for how to implement those ideas in the classroom.

A story in Medium, written by Shayla R. Griffin, the organization’s co-founder, gives examples of what all students should learn:

  • spend their days in classrooms where they can be their whole selves.
  • have access to crayons, markers, and construction paper that match their skin color.
  • be continuously exposed to positive literature that features protagonists who they can identify with and who reflect the diversity of the broader world (see our Just Books Tracking Tool to help you develop your library).
  • learn about people who have helped make the world a better place who share their backgrounds.
  • learn about great pre-colonial civilizations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas before learning about colonization, enslavement, and other forms of oppression and inequality.
  • experience teaching that values the uniqueness of their cultural heritage and traditions as integral to our community, country, and world; and
  • be provided with the language and tools to understand concepts like “race” and “gender” so that they can locate themselves in the world and understand the impact of systems like “racism” and “sexism.”

Justice Leaders social media includes a Facebook post notifying it has developed training on what to do if people in an organization are resistant to these teachings and how to “hold people accountable.”

Another Facebook post advertises Justice Leaders merchandise, which includes items with the words “anti-cissexism” and “anti-heterosexism.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.