Inside the 'Diversity Audit' Conducted at a Top U.S. Prep School

Harvard-Westlake diversity audit asks teachers how they 'foster an understanding of systems of power'

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January 26, 2021

Teachers at one of the nation's leading independent schools were pressed this past month to assess how their classes advanced students' commitments to social justice issues, including the "diversity of sexual identity."

Materials from a diversity audit conducted by an outside consultant for the tony Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles quiz teachers on their compliance with progressive views on six categories of "diversity": racial identity, religious identity, socioeconomic status, "family structure," sexual identity, and disability status. For each topic, teachers were told to ask themselves how they address these identities in their courses, what values students are acquiring when learning about these identities, and how the course promotes a social justice understanding of the world more generally.

Teachers were also asked to fill out a worksheet indicating how their classes, regardless of subject, contributed to students' understanding of "diversity." The sheet asked teachers to describe how their courses "foster an understanding of systems of power and encourage students to develop tools for equity and justice."

The materials, which emphasize to teachers the importance of teaching social justice ideology, offer an inside look at the spread of the new progressivism taking root in American high schools and shed light on the sort of advice schools across the country are shelling out for in the wake of the summer's racial protests.

The worksheet was distributed to all of Harvard-Westlake's 200-some teachers, according to a source at the school, as part of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) curricular review initiated this summer and conducted by the Glasgow Group, a Maryland-based consultancy that connects independent schools to professional diversity administrators.

Harvard-Westlake declined to comment for this story. The Glasgow Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Glasgow worksheet uses language characteristic of contemporary DEI priorities. Race, for example, is described as "a social construct that is used to group people together in relation to power and privilege." "Family structure" ostensibly "relates to various aspects of families, the way that they are organized and who makes up a family unit," with the implication being that different family structures—married, unmarried, or divorced—should be viewed as "diverse," rather than better or worse.

Such progressive views have become commonplace at schools across the country, with high-priced independent schools like Harvard-Westlake (where tuition runs to $40,000 a year) leading the way. The school has attracted flak for this turn, thanks largely to anonymous social media posts highlighting teachers who use gender-neutral pronouns and apologize for being on native land, presentations that insist climate change and Black Lives Matter are beyond political debate, and administrators who praise prominent progressive anti-Semites. The DEI worksheet adds further to this evidence of a comprehensively "woke" culture.

"It's intrusive and completely inappropriate that Harvard-Westlake is demanding teachers get involved in indoctrinating students about things like 'family structure,' and it shows how pervasive and revolutionary the goals are," a member of the Harvard-Westlake community, who declined to be named for fear of reprisal, told the Washington Free Beacon. "This isn't really about George Floyd and 'racial justice'—it's about creating a new, extremist mission for the school that attacks our society and indoctrinates students with radical political views that are presented to them as uncontroversial and mainstream."

That transformation has been facilitated by an ever-growing workforce of DEI professionals—Harvard-Westlake employs five administrators—and consultants. In the case of Harvard-Westlake, its letter to the community this past summer detailing an expanded "antiracism" agenda promised to employ four outside consultancies, including the Glasgow Group.

The Glasgow Group is typical of such organizations: It brings together 12 diversity professionals who can earn cash on the side granting their imprimatur to independent schools like Harvard-Westlake. The group has emphasized the need for its services amid recent upheavals, publishing guides to responding to social media accusations of racism and responding to the 2020 election. In the latter, it encourages schools to "create a culture of dialogue, not debate," and "anticipate a range of emotional responses to the outcomes of the election. Validate the range of emotions and provide outlets for processing."

Published under: Education