The third-largest school district in Kansas is another in a series of districts that have enacted equity training inspired by critical race theory. 

Shawnee Mission School District, which employs 4,300 educators and has over 27,000 students, is training its teachers in Deep Equity. Local news outlets reported that the district spent more than $400,000 on the training. 

Deep Equity was founded by Gary Howard, who believes that white people “are collectively bound and unavoidably complicit in the arrangements of dominance that have systematically favored our racial group over others.” Howard is a white man. 

“The Deep Equity process that we’ve been implementing with school districts throughout the country now is a systemic process we do at Equity, we haven’t done sometimes, we need to make it long-term, multi-year systemic work,” Howard said. “It can’t happen as a program, as a single-dimensional intervention. It needs to be affirmation; it needs to be continuing.” 

Deep Equity is controversial among parents and taxpayers as the training tells educators to “explicitly reject and resist any parents who disagree with it.” The program was created by Corwin, a teacher training program “aimed at producing real school improvement for equity and social justice.” 

One parent, who pulled his child from the Shawnee Mission School District, told The Daily Wire that the Deep Equity training was the final straw in pulling his son from the public education system. 

“Deep Equity being taught in our school district was the deciding factor [in leaving the district],” Jeffrey Arant said. “If we sent our children to our school district where Deep Equity is being taught, they would be singled out because of a characteristic they had no choice in — race … I’m not sure how my soon-to-be kindergartener can have a healthy and meaningful friendship with another child when they see him as an oppressor.”

The program is broken down into multiple phases. The first is designed to “assuage the defensiveness” of people resistant to the training and the final few phases are designed to implement critical race theory into the classroom. 

According to the Deep Equity Handbook, the second phase of the program directs “white folks” to “recognize and honor the personal racial and cultural narrative of each member of [the] staff.” The phase is directed at white people because they “often do not see themselves as racial or cultural beings,” according to the training. 

In the third phase, Deep Equity training provides a series of handouts that instructs teachers to look at the “historical and contemporary dynamics that have created and sustained systems of oppression, marginalization, and inequity for far too many of our students and their families.” 

One of the handouts asks educators to shift their paradigm from a “social dominance paradigm” to a “social justice paradigm.” Teachers must rid themselves of views such as “Christianity over other religions,” and instead focus on “religious [and] spiritual pluralism.” 

via Corwin

A second handout, called “White Identity Orientations” claims that “white identity” is rooted in “ignorance, anger, hostility, and racis[m].” The handout claims that only by “shifting power” and becoming an “anti-racist” can white people become transformational. 

via Corwin

By phase four, Deep Equity training becomes more applicable to the everyday classroom and students. In phase six, “student voices and youth equity leadership work have been initiated.” The goal is to create young activists. 

Shawnee Mission School District joined a list of multiple school districts across the nation that began using Deep Equity. In November of 2019, Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) in Arizona began implementing Deep Equity. According to the Arizona Daily Independent, approximately 2,600 teachers have been certified in the training. 

The school districts that implement Deep Equity often deny that their respective districts are promoting or teaching critical race theory. 

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