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Red state universities train ‘teachers of color’ to confront ‘white normative spaces’


Program ‘will do nothing at all to improve K-12 education in Nebraska,’ education commentator says

“Teachers of color” are being sought by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Kansas State University to “address the challenges of white normative spaces in education.”

Taxpayers are spending more than $5 million on Project RAÍCES, which stands for Re-envisioning Action and Innovation through Community Collaborations for Equity across System.

The $5.2 million program received 75 percent of its funding from the federal Department of Education. The state education department chipped in $250,000 as part of its “From Diversity Strength,” program, according to UNL’s news release. Other money comes from the university.

The joint program with Kansas State uses “critical mentoring” “on culturally responsive/sustaining pedagogy for educators in districts and schools that serve as receiving contexts for newly prepared educators.”

The two universities will use a “youth participatory action research” model to filter non-white high school students into teacher training, according to the grant abstract. It aims to “increase the number of teachers of Color… in
majority Latinx K-12 schools.”

Neither university responded to a College Fix inquiry about the legality of the program that appears to exclude white students.

Governor Jim Pillen’s office did not respond to two emailed requests for comment in the past several weeks about the program and if he knew it existed. The Fix tried to call but no one answered and there was no way to leave a voicemail. Pillen, a former regent for the University of Nebraska system, ran on a platform of opposing critical race theory.

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Several education commentators suggested the program is illegal.

S.T. Karnick, a fellow with the Heartland Institute, said people should contact Gov. Pillen and the federal government about the legality of Project RAÍCES.

According to Karnick, the project is a “scam,” and there is no such thing as “challenges” posed by “white normative spaces.”

“Project RAÍCES is a blatant payoff to a political constituency and will do nothing at all to improve K-12 education in Nebraska … Nebraska’s children, parents, and taxpayers will get nothing out of this scam,” Karnick told The Fix via email.

Karnick said the project is not only wasting taxpayer’s dollars, but is also unlawful.

“This program violates federal nondiscrimination law, which states explicitly that ‘an employer cannot discipline, harass, fire, refuse to hire or promote a person because of his or her national origin,’” Karnick said.

Karnick said Nebraskans should alert their federal agencies of this “discrimination.”

“Nebraskans should [contact federal agencies] in large numbers, and they should make sure to contact Gov. Jim Pillen to notify him of this illegal program, so that he cannot pretend that he has not heard about it,” Karnick told The Fix.

A political scientist who researches DEI in higher education said this shows there is more work to be done.

“Conservatives are just in the infancy of learning how to root out critical theories from the education system … This Nebraska program shows that anti-DEI criteria need to be sewn into Grant proposals at the state level and hopefully, eventually, at the national level,” Boise State University political scientist Scott Yenor told The Fix via email.

Professor Yenor does not doubt that Governor Pillen has good intentions. “Legislature should require that all grants by state agencies adhere to anti DEI and pro-colorblindness, melting pot ideas about our shared country. I do not doubt the Governor’s sincerity, and now it is necessary to learn and adapt,” Yenor said.

Legislation is pending that would abolish “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs at public universities and colleges, as previously reported by The Fix.

DEI “naturally creates a culture of divisiveness” and in order “to create a more united culture, DEI must die,” State Senator Dave Murman previously told The Fix.

“DEI tells us if you are this race, gender, or sexuality, you are either an oppressor or oppressed.”

Editor’s note: The article has been updated to include a phone call attempt to reach Pillen’s office.

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IMAGES:VM Jones/Getty Images; College Fix edits

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About the Author
College Fix Contributor Emily Fowler is a student at The Master's University, where she studies music. She previously received an associate's degree in arts and sciences at Wabash Valley College. She also writes for Campus Reform, where she is a senior correspondent.