Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and the Department of Education have come under fire for implicit bias trainings provided by companies contracted with the agency that four administrators planning to sue the city claimed were fostering a sense of “toxic whiteness.”
Mr. Carranza has focused on better integrating the public-school system, which is 70 percent black and Hispanic, and the system’s 1,800 schools often have widely-varying student achievement levels. But he has received criticism for his approaches to tackling inequity, particularly the plan to end the admissions test for the specialized high schools, where students are predominantly Asian and white.
The DOE has paid $582,603 for contracted training sessions on racism in the workplace in the Office of Equity and Access, according to data from the City Comptroller’s office.
‘A Hostile Environment’
But some administrators who have received such trainings say the “white supremacy” lessons were “divisive.”
“The intent is to create a shared understanding. They believe this is positive and helpful. But it’s resulted in a hostile environment where whites are subject to being criticized, belittled and harassed,” one anonymous DOE executive who received the training told the New York Post.
A slide that an insider told the Post was part of the mandatory training given to Principals, Superintendents and other supervisors contained bullet-point features of “white-supremacy culture,” including “perfectionism,” “individualism” and “fear of open conflict.”
The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents Principals and other education officials, did not return a request for comment.
A Manhattan middle-school Teacher who received the implicit-bias training that was required by all city workers said that it “felt like I’m in a dystopian novel where all of a sudden being white is bad. All of a sudden, I’m the enemy,” she told the New York Post.
Carranza Stands Ground
At a City Council budget hearing May 20, Mr. Carranza said that the trainings were not focused on white supremacy but on “our biases and how we work with them.”
“I would hope that anybody that feels that somehow that process is not beneficial to them, I would very respectfully say they are the ones that need to reflect even harder upon what they believe,” he said.
Discontent with “an environment which is hostile toward whites” has led at least four veteran female DOE officials to plan to sue the city, a source told the Post. Davida Perry, who represents the women and is managing partner of Schwartz Perry & Heller, declined to comment.
The four administrators were demoted and argued that it was so people of color could step in, according to the story. DOE spokesman Will Mantell said “we hire the right people to get the job done for kids and families, and any claim of ‘reverse racism’ has no basis in fact.”
About a hundred DOE officials gathered May 21 at the DOE’s headquarters in support of the Chancellor.
Calls Changes Typical
Last June, a few months after Mr. Carranza replaced former Chancellor Carmen Fariña, he restructured the agency, including reassigning some black and white executives.
“It’s always been my experience that anyone that comes in as a CEO of an organization takes a look at the organization and, based on their experience, makes some changes,” he said at the Council hearing. “This is no different.”
He added that there were white Deputy Chancellors on his team who had “an incredible equity lens as well for making sure that historically underrepresented communities are being served.”
We depend on the support of readers like you to help keep our publication strong and independent. Join us.