Read the Classroom 'Antiracism' Survey That Has Maryland Parents 'Livid'

(Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Shinnyo-en)
March 12, 2022

A Maryland school district paid an "antiracist" consulting firm nearly $1 million to ask parents if their six-year-old children were being taught enough about racism.

The survey, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, gives Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) parents a chance to rate the district's "antiracism" curricula. The survey asks parents if they believe their children are being "taught about the negative effects of racism in their classes" and whether school libraries "represent people of diverse races, skin colors, ethnicities, and cultures."

The survey is the latest result of a years' long partnership between MCPS and the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (MAEC), a prominent "antiracist" consulting group. Since 2020, MCPS has diverted nearly $1 million of taxpayer funds to the firm to boost its "antiracist" credentials, according to documents obtained by Parents Defending Education.

Some Montgomery County parents think the district has the wrong priorities.

"They're spending so much funding on this, and test scores are down," said former Montgomery County school administrator Dee Reuben. "Parents are livid. I hear this every day—parents are afraid to speak out because they're afraid of the repercussions that will happen to their kids. Academics is going down the tube, and I think that is a shame considering we were one of the top school systems around—it breaks my heart."

Montgomery County literacy readiness in 2021 plummeted between 30 and 40 percent depending on grade level. Only 54 percent of MCPS high school students test at or above the proficient level.

Reuben leads United Against Racism in Education, a group made up of Montgomery County parents, teachers, and community leaders who are concerned with the district's misuse of taxpayer funds to promote critical race theory. United Against Racism in Education is one of several groups across the country that want schools to spend less time pushing "equity" and more time on education.

MCPS says on its website that it does not teach critical race theory in the classroom. But Byron Johns, the chairman of the NAACP Maryland chapter's Education Committee, hosted an online webinar in November titled "Eliminating Institutional Bias: How New MCPS Data and Critical Race Theory Could Help." MCPS superintendent Monifa McKnight was scheduled to appear at the event but backed out at the last minute. Reuben, who attended the meeting, says it proves the district's hypocrisy.

"One minute they're saying they're not teaching critical race theory in schools, and the next minute they're doing a Zoom presentation on the benefits of eliminating bias through critical race theory," she said. "You can't talk out of both sides of your mouth."

Following national protests of police treatment of black Americans, McKnight in November 2020 announced that the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium would audit the district's curricula and help it adopt more "antiracist" features. As part of the audit, the district last week released a comprehensive, district-wide survey that asks, "To what extent does MCPS support racial equity and disrupt systemic racism through its policies, procedures, structures, and practices?" The survey was sent via email to every parent in the district.

The survey also asks parents if they "believe my child should be taught to recognize, understand, and interrupt racism" and if the "content of my child's coursework reflects the experiences and contributions of people from my child's racial, ethnic, and/or cultural background." In an email to parents distributing the survey, MCPS provided supplemental documents that tout the district's "antiracism" initiative as an effort to "ensure racial justice by identifying, interrupting, and dismantling racist practices, policies, and attitudes that disproportionately harm communities of color."

Max Eden, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Free Beacon that the MCPS survey is "a transparent pretext for the school district to further implement critical race theory ideology as its operating system."

"This survey is designed to ascertain, 'Is the school district woke enough?'" Eden said, adding that "the answer will obviously be 'No. The school district is not woke enough.'" According to Eden, MCPS will use the survey results to justify paying "vendors who are making a killing off of pushing critical race theory into classes" while claiming that such "culturally responsive education … has nothing to do with critical race theory."

Montgomery County has already poured plenty of resources into equity-based learning. In November, the county announced a special $750,000 appropriation to the 2021 budget to hold "restorative justice training" for educators and school staff. In June 2021, the county paid "antiracist" author Jason Reynolds $6,500 for a Zoom call to Cabin John Middle School students. The school district also dropped $14,500 to purchase a copy of the book Stamped, by Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, for every student and staff member at the school.

The findings of the audit are set to be released in June. Students as young as eight will be given a similar "antiracist" survey this month.