Educators at a public high school in Illinois were astonished to learn when they showed up for work one day that everything from the color of their skin to snow shoveling indicates “systemic racism.”
On Feb. 26, Naperville 203 Community Unit School District hosted a systemic racism training for faculty and staff, bringing in “antiracist” coach Dena Simmons for a keynote speech. The Countywide Equity Institute featured 10 speakers lecturing on “equity and inclusion” practices for “marginalized and/or underrepresented” students, as well as implicit bias and microaggressions.
A whistleblower who reached out to The Federalist, a teacher at Naperville Central High School, claims Simmons told attendees that “our education is based on a foundation of whiteness” and that Americans “are spiritually murdering” students. Simmons also reportedly said that if you are not an “antiracist” you are a racist, even if you believe “you are treating people with respect.”
Simmons has delivered two TEDx talks on institutional racism. In one speech to educators that has more than 230,000 views on YouTube, the Yale University graduate said “white supremacy” is the outcome in all schools that do not embrace “racial justice” and “antiracism” training for students.
In an article titled “How to Be an Antiracist Educator” published in Oct. 2019, Simmons praises The New York Times’ “1619 Project” as a “comprehensive opportunity to learn and discuss history and race with colleagues and students.” The 1619 Project claimed America is systemically racist and that all of modern society and injustices are directly linked to slavery. It has been the target of much criticism by scholars for inaccuracy.
The whistleblower said Simmons’ lecture was “all over the place” and “hard to follow” content-wise. Simmons reportedly said “snow removal” indicates systemic racism, presumably referencing a viral Feb. 3 column published by the Los Angeles Times in which the author condemned her Republican neighbor for plowing her driveway.
“At one point she was talking even about how snow removal is affected by systemic racism. She totally lost me on that one. I even texted that to my [partner],” said the whistleblower.
“It’s almost time for an amazing day of learning in @Naperville203! So excited for our lineup, discussions, reflections, and ACTIONS that will make us better together. #BeTheSpark @brightmorningtm @DenaSimmons @SaraKAhmed @pgorski @chrisemdin,” the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Naperville, Jayne Willard, who organized the Feb. 26 “antiracist training,” tweeted that morning.
It’s almost time for an amazing day of learning in @Naperville203! So excited for our lineup, discussions, reflections, and ACTIONS that will make us better together. #BeTheSpark @brightmorningtm @DenaSimmons @SaraKAhmed @pgorski @chrisemdin pic.twitter.com/vRhKHrewHm
— Jayne Willard (@jawillard) February 26, 2021
The Federalist contacted the district for a transcript or video of the training. An employee at the district office claimed Simmons did not permit any recording or redistribution of her discussion that day.
“The Naperville Community School District 203 has given a platform to the toxic and divisive ideology of critical race theory. Ms. Dena Simmons is one of the many prophets of this cult-like ideology that looks at children by the color of their skin, not the content of their character,” Asra Q. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter investigating critical race theory in education, told The Federalist. “As parents, we need to ask the bottom line questions. How much was Ms. Simmons paid? Was there a competitive bidding process to get speakers on the topic?”
Simmons is the founder of LiberatED, a group “focused on developing school-based resources at the intersection of social and emotional learning (SEL), racial justice, and healing.” She posts a reported speaking fee of $10,000 to $20,000 to essentially discuss the redistribution of wealth and social prestige by race.
A teacher at Naperville Central sent The Federalist several PowerPoint slides from the virtual training hosted by speaker Valda Valbrun, who presented on the topic “Leading for Equity: Efficacy and Action in Schools.” The PowerPoint image below obtained by The Federalist alludes to a broad conspiratorial network of interconnected systems of “structural and institutional racism.”
Below are additional pictures that teachers in the Valbrun training took, one of which depicts a pyramid graph that differentiates between examples of “covert” and “overt” white supremacy. Among the overt examples, the graph claims the phrase “Make America Great Again” is covert white supremacist language, nearly equivalent in context to the N-word and the Ku Klux Klan. Also, it claims denying the existence of “white privilege” makes you a racist. So does the “celebration of Columbus Day,” as depicted in the right-hand corner.
Another slide, depicted under the white supremacy graph, deceptively equates “equal access” with “a vision of society in which the distribution of resources and power is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.” Once more, equality of outcome is represented by the “antiracist” educators as synonymous with equality of opportunity.
Valbrun is the CEO of Valbrum Consulting Group, an organization that provides training and leadership development for schools and districts. In 2019, Valbrun presented at The Harvey B. Gantt Museum, Equity and Innovation Teacher Institute on equity and systemic racism in education. Valbrum’s lecture at Naperville overwhelmingly used identity politics to explain all “disparities” in society, according to sources.
“Let’s look at the children as individuals,” a teacher said. “They are saying that if you are white you are racist and have white privilege. Even if you say you are not racist, you are told you are.”
On March 2, school district coordinator Sue Jim Striedl sent an email to all attendees at the Feb. 26 Valbrun training to provide a link to the Intercultural Development Inventory website. IDI identifies itself as “the premier cross-cultural competence that is used by thousands of individuals and organizations to build intercultural competence to achieve international and domestic diversity and inclusion goals and outcomes.”
Striedl forwarded a Google Drive link from Valbrun that contains documents she used in her lecture. One document called the “Leading For Racial Equity” glossary defines the terms “white privilege,” “white fragility,” “white culture,” “whiteness,” and “systemic racism,” among others. It also says that “reverse racism” does not exist, claiming white people cannot be discriminated against.
Another document is a “Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist, Multicultural Institution,” a six-step guide to becoming an “antiracist” based on the notion that everyone is implicitly bigoted. The third document included below is called the “School Culture Equity Rubric” and outlines various scenarios of “racism,” such as if a minority student is not greeted upon entering a classroom. Additionally, suspensions, detentions, and all “zero-tolerance discipline” policies are said to be racist.
In a tweet prior to the 2020 presidential election in November, now-Vice President Kamala Harris called for “equity,” saying “equitable treatment means we all end up in the same place.” Schools and companies are now ramping up partnerships with speakers espousing dangerous ideas, such as the elimination of meritocracy and the idea of judging people as racist or non-racist based on their biology.
In this intersectionality hierarchy, a white man is inherently racist simply because he is a white man; a transgender black pansexual person with the pronouns it/they remains oppressed because of his sectarian status in society’s impermeable “hegemony.”
In February, a whistleblower said Coca-Cola was hosting “antiracist” training on LinkedIn for employees, which was subsequently removed from the website. The training videos instructed employees to “try to be less white.”
Brigham Young University, as reported by The Daily Wire, is developing a “race-conscious” curriculum. The BYU task force said the school should “establish a dedicated, visible space on campus for underrepresented students and those who serve this population.” In other words, segregation.
“We’re facing a national crisis in America today with a multimillion-dollar industry that I call ‘Woke Inc.,’ infiltrating our schools with hired guns, weaponizing our children, and indoctrinating them with toxic, divisive ideas that segregate, shame, and denigrate,” Nomani said. “As a parent, it breaks my heart. We have to stand up with moral courage and challenge and expose this nightmare.”
According to teachers, Naperville Central had a “building institute” training a week prior on Feb. 22 where district “learning coaches” lectured on implicit bias and microaggressions. The topic of discussion was also equity and racism in education—and America at large. The whistleblower says that he believes the next session is scheduled for April 6.
The “antiracist” training at the high school comes on the heels of Illinois formally approving “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards.” According to the new rules, teachers are required to “embrace and encourage progressive viewpoints and perspectives,” as well as “assess how their biases…affect…how they access tools to mitigate their own behavior (racism, sexism, homophobia, unearned privilege, Eurocentrism, etc).”
“In Illinois, the semi-official civics website tied to the implementation of the state’s civics law, illinoiscivics.org, has been heavily promoting critical race theory, the culturally responsive teaching philosophy that grows out of critical race theory, and the white fragility-style training sessions connected to culturally responsive teaching. I say ‘semi-official’ because the illinoiscivics.org website is funded and run by a private entity, the McCormick Foundation,” Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told The Federalist.
The new rules in Illinois include an article on “white fragility” and form the basis for training sessions—like that at Naperville—for teachers to “move past their whiteness.” Educators are required to admit that there is systemic racism or “that there are systems in our society that create and reinforce inequities, thereby creating oppressive conditions.”
“We need to oppose ‘antiracism’ training because the training itself is more like racism than its opposite. This training attributes guilt and innocence, insight and blindness, to individuals because of their race. This training, and the critical race theory that inspires it, is fundamentally at odds with the classically liberal principles that form the foundation of our constitutional system,” Kurtz added.
He noted that Joe Biden has repeatedly claimed the nation he leads is beset with systemic racism, a critical race theory concept, and one of his first acts as president was to reinstate critical race theory trainings for federal employees and contractors.
“I’ve had enough of this,” the whistleblower said. “Somebody needed to say something. I was raised with the idea that you try to see people as human beings and individuals. Instead of trying to create a society that works together, a society that has the values that our country was founded on, all systemic racism is doing is drawing attention to people’s races and differences. Instead of a society that works together, this is totally the opposite.”
Assistant Superintendent Jayne Willard did not return several calls from The Federalist requesting for comment, nor did Assistant Principal Angela Ginnan from Naperville Central High School. Valbrun Consulting Group did not return any calls. An individual who handles inquiries for Dena Simmons responded to an email preliminarily but did not answer a follow-up with questions.
Update: A teacher who wishes to remain anonymous contacted the Federalist on March 6 and said the Naperville union representative, Dan Iverson, sent a letter to faculty and staff after the publishing of this article. Iverson said that it is vital America fosters “a more equitable district and a more equitable society.”
“I appreciate your article as I too work at District 203. Sadly it is falling on deaf ears and they are ramping up pressure on us even more as conservatives. We just got this letter from our union rep (Dan Iverson). The thing he doesn’t get is if we speak out we will get punished. Read below. [link],”