The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) will be holding two events this fall focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion for educators, it announced Tuesday.
“The two events, the Teach to Lead Summit and the Conference on Equity in Opportunity, will take place in Denver, Colorado, beginning on Oct. 26, 2023, and bring together key educational leaders for national conversations about the importance of educator diversity in our nation’s schools,” said the DOE in a press release.
The DOE specifically mentions an $18 million grant that has been used, in part, to prepare “teachers of color.”
Legal scholars generally agree that two recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that recruiting and hiring based on race, gender or any other protected category is illegal.
However, a recent policy brief from the DOE indicated several programs still available with advantages based on race.
For example, the elimination of student loans for teachers is expected to disproportionately help “teachers of color, relative to other populations,” according to the brief.
The policy brief also mentioned other grants specifically to “address teacher shortages through investments in educator preparation programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges or Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and other Minority Serving Institutions with a state-accredited teacher preparation program.”
Some of the events’ supporting organizations include The Fellowship-Black Male Educators for Social Justice, which has as a goal “to get 1000 Black male educators in the Philadelphia metropolitan area by the year 2025,” according to the organization’s website.
While it’s an admirable goal for a private organization to pursue preparing black, male teachers to obtain jobs in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, critics maintain it is an illegal activity for the U.S. government, or that private entity, to promote the hiring of teachers based on race.
Another supporter of the Denver event is Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), a radical group that advocates tenets of Marxist Critical Race Theory.
“The system isn’t broken, but rather it is doing exactly what it was designed to do by institutionalizing and perpetuating racial advantage and disadvantage, and unequal distributions of money and power” in the public education system, said Kyra Mungia, a public policy fellow at LEE.
In addition to the private supporting organizations, about a half a dozen public school districts have agreed to participate in the event, including Jeffco Public Schools in Colorado; Hancock County Schools in West Virginia; and the Magoffin County School District in Kentucky.
The event will take place Oct. 26-27.
The announcement comes as President Joe Biden’s Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, embarks on a “school bus tour,” in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, meant to address the damage done to students when from government-enforced COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Throughout this week, Secretary Cardona, Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, and Under Secretary James Kvaal will join national, state, and local school leaders to speak with students, parents, and educators for events that celebrate the back-to-school season and underscore the Administration’s commitment to helping students recover from the impacts of the pandemic and continue on the road to success,” said the DOE release.