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Presentation at WA education summit links ‘white supremacy’ to individualism

By Timothy Schumann | The Center Square

During Washington’s “2022 Governor’s Equity Summit,” the action director of the state’s Professional Educator Standards Board gave the controversial PowerPoint presentation, “Internal Transformation: How an Education Agency is Transforming Itself in the Name of Justice.”

The presentation began with a “land acknowledgement,” stating “we are on the traditional homelands of the Puyallup Tribe.”

The acknowledgement then acknowledged that this admission is but “one small step toward true allyship” and that “we,” the allies, “commit to uplifting the voices, experiences, and histories of the Indigenous people of this land and beyond.”

The presentation at the late November conference continued on to the next slide stating, “We aim to disrupt the legacy of systemic racism by centering racial equity and justice in our work.”

It asked attendees, both in person and virtual, to “please take a few seconds [of silence] to acknowledge the land that you are on as the traditional homeland of the Indigenous Peoples.”

The presentation further asked, “What does it look like when we move away from white supremacy culture towards indigenous relational pedagogy? What can you do tomorrow?”

This was followed by a slide that listed values aligned with “white supremacy culture”, drawn from Dr. Tema Okun’s Harvard study “The Culture of White Supremacy in Organizations.”

It listed such values as “Objectivity”; “Individualism”; “Perfectionism”; “Worship of the written word”; and a “Sense of urgency.” The presentation advocated that these values be replaced by “indigenous relational pedagogy.”

Replacement values included “Honor, integrity, & honesty”; “Perception”; “Ethical usefulness”; and “Generosity” among others. These were attributed to indigenous cultures, and pulled from publications with titles such as “Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World.”

Some additional presentation materials attacking objectivity said that conferees need to “Recognize that we can know things emotionally and intuitively in ways that we may not be able to explain ‘rationally,’” and that they should “Understand that often ‘rational’ thinking is actually an emotional response couched in logic.”

In his speech to open the summit, Gov. Jay Inslee warned, “We don’t break centuries of habit and thinking, unless we decide to break the chains of that history. And so that is why we’re here today, to really consciously, intentionally, bring equity and justice toward the way we do business.”

The reactions on social media have been mostly negative.

Pittsburgh radio host John Steigerwald said the presentation at the governor’s conference “Might be the best advertisement ever for school choice.”

Washington state resident Seth Smith asserted, “Individualism helped build the greatest force for freedom, democracy, and prosperity the world has ever seen.”

He advised Inslee, “Perhaps it would be better focusing your energy cleaning up our state’s beautiful cities or auditing your state agencies.”

Originally published December 15, 2022 by The Center Square.

IMAGE: Washington Professional Educator Standards Board

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