In today’s environment of political correctness, a new service is capitalizing on American schools’ growing demand for “anti-racist” education.
Ethnic studies consultants are making a fortune in the “diversity marketplace” by providing their services to America’s schools and corporate workplaces. The training they offer, “diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs,” has become a lucrative industry in recent years.
The trend is apparent on job search platform Indeed.com. One will find thousands of pages of hiring postings when conducting a search for DEI-related jobs.
Elite Private Schools at the Forefront
The Dalton School, in the Upper East Side New York City, where tuition runs to more than $54,000 a year, hit the headlines in mainstream media in December last year when dozens of faculty members signed an “anti-racist” manifesto.
Listed as the first request of their wide-range of demands, they asked to hire 12 full-time diversity officers and multiple psychologists to support students “coping with race-based traumatic stress.”
The appeal was met with backlash from the Dalton community. A group of alumni and parents posted an open letter online in late January asking, “How else can we interpret a curriculum night where every single class, from science to social studies to physical education, must now be rewritten to embody ‘anti-racism?’ When so many of Dalton’s extraordinary faculty sign a letter that shows little interest in the education of children, the joy of learning or the kids’ intellectual development?”
The authors specifically blamed Pollyanna, a leading DEI education consultancy in Manhattan, for its “racial literacy” curriculum, which has “already permeated Dalton classes from social studies to science” and contributed to “some of the worst abuses this year,” referring to incidents like a Jewish student being forced to play the “racist cop” in a science class, and the art class talking about “decentering whiteness.”
Pollyanna, DEI Consultant for 78 Elite Private Schools
The founder of Pollyanna, Casper Caldarola, had been a longtime trustee of the Dalton School, where she led the board’s Community and Diversity Committee. In that same time period, she also worked as director of communications at Allen-Stevenson, a private boys’ school in New York’s Upper East Side. She started Pollyanna in 2015 as a part-time project. By 2018, her business had grown tremendously, and Pollyanna became her full-time job.
Currently, there are 78 top private schools across the country on Pollyanna’s client roster, including schools in Manhattan, Cambridge, Providence, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, and Connecticut.
These include the top schools in the country, such as Grace Church School, a Manhattan school that charges $57,000 a year, the Brearley School, a private all-girl’s school in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, as well as NYC’s Hunter College Elementary School, a very popular school among Chinese Americans.
In March this year, an inclusive language guide from Grace Church School states that “mom and dad” should be replaced with words like “grown-ups, folks, or family.
When a school hires Pollyanna for a curriculum upgrade, teachers and staff participate in Pollyanna’s bespoke 360-degree review of the school’s racism, such as being asked “how white supremacy culture shows up in our practices and behaviors?”
A Highly Profitable Business
Pollyanna’s revenue, according to the organization’s latest tax filings, nearly doubled in 2019 to more than $410,000. Income from services provided was over $250,000, 5.6 times that of its 2018 figure. Caldarola is the only permanent employee of her company.
It is not uncommon for DEI training services to get handsome payments for their work. An April 20 article from Tablet Magazine reported that a consultancy called Community Responsive Education Corp. billed $11,000 for teacher training at San Diego county’s Poway Unified School District, $65,000 for a keynote address and a professional development workshop series for the leadership team of Chula Vista Elementary, and $40,000 “to facilitate the development of Ethnic Studies units and lessons” at the Jefferson Elementary School District, south of San Francisco.
Notably, the consulting company is a leading trainer for a Boston consortium of educators, which Tablet noted is a project partly funded by the NoVo Foundation, which is co-chaired by Peter Buffett, the youngest son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Similarly, in early May, NYC Leadership Academy received $49,600 from Fairfax County Public Schools to draft and conduct an “Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Curriculum Policy Survey” to promote the quasi-Marxist critical race theory (CRT), according to Parents Defending Education.
Ineffective and Counterproductive
In January, 35 Professors from 31 universities wrote a joint letter to California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and President of California State Board of Education Linda Darling-Hammond, sharing their analysis results of research papers often cited to support CRT courses.
“After careful analysis of the four articles cited in support of the overarching and specific claims, we have found that none of these papers provides sufficient evidence for the claims that are attributed to it,” the professors wrote, adding that the reported study was descriptive and non-empirical in nature.
For instance, ethnic studies advocates incorrectly claimed that the program led to “increases in both attendance and standardized test scores.” In fact, neither student attendance, nor test performance were addressed in the study.
Tablet quoted Southern Connecticut State University professor Corrine Blackmer, a signatory of the joint letter, who said, “There’s no proof that any of this is efficacious, in any way, shape, or form. The contempt for fact and evidence can only be described as breathtaking.”
The report further pointed out that DEI training initiatives are frequently ineffective and even counterproductive, in that not only did they fail to reduce bias, improve morale, increase opportunity for minority groups, or boost productivity and workplace satisfaction, but often had the opposite effect.
New York Assemblyman William Colton, who had previously worked as a public school teacher for eleven years, told The Epoch Times that he believes promoting CRT and DEI courses in schools will divide people and incite hatred in our society.
“I don’t think that is a good idea. You kind of end up distorting everyone’s vision,” Colton said. “Everyone should be working together no matter what the color of someone’s skin, or where they came from, or what religion. It’s a mistake just to focus on racism. We have to focus on the opposite of racism, which is love and working together. The more people we get doing that, the better off you’re going to be to get rid of racism and hate.”