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  • Writer's pictureAletheia

Exposing Waunakee's Woke School Partnerships


What exactly does the Waunakee Community School District (WCSD) want to teach your kids?

It’s not crucial knowledge—such as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Did you know that the integration of racial and gender ideology is happening in all facets of your child’s WCSD classroom. Dane County neighbors should know that the same thing is unfolding in school districts countywide.

But how...? With the help of key partnerships, WCSD’s administration and many of its academic staff have been actively working to re-formulate the teaching of basic academic subjects, essentially transforming them into little more than vehicles for the advancement of controversial, divisive, and damaging sociopolitical agendas.

From classroom presentations and discussion to reading materials, homework assignments, and even tests, nearly everything that takes place within WCSD has been leveraged to shape the thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and, yes, even the psychosocial identities of WCSD students. WCSD has accomplished this transformation with the cooperation of the majority of the WCSD Board of Education and without the knowledge or consent of most WCSD parents.

We were determined to understand this disturbing shift. So, we dug for answers. This blog post will only scratch the surface of what our research uncovered. However, even these initial pieces of information should serve as an alarm bell to Waunakee parents about what’s really happening within WCSD. We hope that what we share here will also serve as a roadmap, helping parents in other Dane County school districts know where to dig for similar corruption where their own children are enrolled.

Following money trails frequently leads to the origins of corruption. So, that’s where we started.

Slide 3 of a presentation made to the WCSD Curriculum Committee on June 30, 2020, details that the district had allocated nearly $200,000 to incorporate the racially focused resources, staff workshops, and ‘professional’ development tools of severalpolitically motivated organizations—all in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The justification? Demonstration of progress in remediating a federal finding that the district had “a significant disproportionality or discrepancy in the identification of black students for special education services.” The brief presentation, which contains plenty of other valuable data about the equity-focused partnerships in which WCSD planned to invest, as well other Dane County school districts already engaged, can be downloaded below.

File_  DEI Presentation
Download PDF • 127KB

This post will hone in on just two key partnerships: 1) the National Equity Project (mentioned prominently in the June 30th presentation), and 2) Origins Developmental Design (discussed starting around the 39:00" mark of the WCSD Curriculum Committee meeting of November 4, 2021, viewable here).

The National Equity Project

In an undated memo, almost certainly authored around the same time as the aforementioned presentation, Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Tim Schell details for Waunakee’s Board of Education the intention to invest $30,500 to partner with the National Equity Project (NEP) through that organization’s “Learning for Equity Redesign Network,” or LERN. Schell notes that NEP invited WCSD to participate in LERN after 2019-20 engagement with NEP workshops hosted by CESA 2, the quasi-public, DPI-aligned educational cooperative that services Dane County. Schell notes that NEP not only provides workshops but also facilitates collaborative improvement networks and provides technical assistance to school districts and regional initiatives, specifically, to advance DEI.

File_  2021-2023 BELE District Network Participation
Download PDF • 148KB

This sounds like so much gobbledygook. So, what exactly does Schell mean? What is he actually describing? What “value” does NEP offer the district?

In short, the organization develops race-based frameworks for schools and classroom use. They’re providing perspectives meant not only to be embraced by administrators and teaching staff but instilled in students.

NEP defines one of these frameworks, the Lens of Systemic Oppression, as “the lens we intentionally employ to sharpen our focus on the ways in which any given form of oppression (race, gender, class, language, sexual orientation, etc) may be negatively impacting people’s ability to make progress on the things they care about and/or preventing individual or collective action toward the achievement of a particular goal.” Clearly, then, NEP wants your children to believe that they are either victims or perpetrators of systemic oppression, based solely on how they look simply being a boy or a girl, or a multitude of other individual attributes over which no child has any control and that have zero demonstrable bearing on a child’s character.

Is that the way you want your children taught to view the world? Other people? Themselves? Because it seems to be the way NEP wants them to think.

Or how about NEP’s Social Emotional Learning and Equity framework, in which “all learning is social and emotional and all learning is mediated by relationships that sit in a sociopolitical, racialized context – for all children, not just those who are black and brown”?

For example, did you know that mathematics and science are plagued with racial content?

Thanks to WCSD’s partnership with NEP, Waunakee parents no longer need to worry that their sons and daughters might fail to see the sociopolitical and racial overtones of the Pythagorean theorem or photosynthesis.

And hey, moms of WCSD— NEP Managing Director Kathleen Osta wants you to know that “white women have always been complicit in and used as a tool in the reproduction of white supremacy and patriarchy.” She also reassuringly notes that “we have been taught not to think much about whiteness while at the same time we are fed a steady stream of messaging about the superiority and ‘normalness’ of white people.” If you haven’t yet covered these tidbits of information with your children at the dinner table, if you’ve been concerned your children might consequently miss out on a sense of perpetual self-loathing, just scratch that worry off your list. WCSD’s NEP partnership has you covered!

Origins Developmental Design

The second of WCSD’s equity-focused partner organizations, Origins Developmental Designs, or ODD, (we’ll politely pass up the opportunity to riff on the aptness of that acronym), boasts the tag line: “Social and Emotional Learning Done Right.”

Good news! These folks are equal opportunity all the way. Not content merely to provide teachers with workshops on how to view education through a racial lens, ODD also publishes The White Parent’s Guide to Raising Anti-Racist Kids right on their website for you.

And what can we all learn from this illustrious guide…?

First and foremost, if you were hoping that your children might be taught to strive for a nation where they won’t be judged by the color of their skin, just ditch that outdated and insensitive idea right now. “Race matters,” ODD says, and “[i]f a parent teaches their children not to see color, she is teaching her child not to know the identity of the other person.” So, forget all that ridiculous content of character mumbo jumbo, and make sure your kids focus on arguably the most insignificant characteristic of their friends: the color of their skin.

Just a few ODD-recommended books—to “Support Your Students [sic] Growth and Learning”—include such children’s classics as:

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall’ – “Red has a bright red label,” notes an online description of the book, “but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (Let's draw strawberries!). His mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (Go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can't be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He's blue!” Nothing like planting that seed of identity doubt and discomfort early!

The Gender Wheel by Maya Christina Gonzalez – "A jam-packed coloring extravaganza, designed to explore bodies, nature, and history in relation to multiple gender identities...The Gender Wheel offers a queer centric, holistic framework of radical gender inclusion in a kid-friendly way for budding activists who will change our world." The book description proudly adds, “This is our world!” Another listing for the book notes that the volume is also helpfully available in a "clothed School Edition.” Hopefully WCSD has at least chosen the ‘clothed school edition’ to put in the elementary schools.

And while it’s not on ODD’s list, we have no doubt they’d be all for the similarly structured children’s classic A Book About Diversity by Charnaie Gordon, which was ACTUALLY READ in Prairie Elementary’s 3rd-grade class. A summary of the book asserts: "Diversity is what makes the world such a beautiful and interesting place. When you open your life to it, you learn to respect and celebrate those differences that make everyone special—including your own. This book was made to help kids understand what diversity is and how to actively embrace diversity in every aspect of their lives.” That summary sounds innocent enough, but the book includes cisgender as one of the diversity points. So brush up on your gender identification definitions, because your 3rd grade child may have questions.

ODD indicates that successful partnership has just three simple components: (1) the professional development per se must be sustained for at least two years, (2) be implemented in the classroom for more than 1.5 years, and (3) involve the participation of 75% or more of the school (or, in this case, school district’s) teachers. The time commitment described isn’t just about money. It’s about effectiveness. ODD wants to ensure enough time and exposure for at least 75% of students to embrace the organization’s desired worldview—to be certain that its destructive, divisive, discriminatory ways of thinking really take hold in your children.

And if you’d rather not teach this stuff to your kids, that hardly matters. All those professional development workshops and trainings provided to teachers through WCSD’s partnership with ODD will ensure that Waunakee teachers do it for you!

What's a Waunakee Parent to Do?

First, we want to be clear that the content examples we’ve shared in demonstrating what these organizations provide are just that—a handful of examples. It’s a high-level view we’re offering, not a comprehensive one. However, it is a view that should immediately concern parents with children enrolled in the WCSD. District administration and academic staff will no doubt claim that WCSD only uses select materials from these partnerships, that it leverages none of the above-cited items or any of the other completely inappropriate and unacceptable materials touted by NEP and ODD.

Okay. Sure, groomers.

It’s clear any such claims should be understood as a big ol' “wink, wink,” since both NEP and ODD exist solely to advance ideologically focused viewpoints relative to race and gender.

If NEP and ODD both exist to push the “woke” worldview, would any of the content, trainings, or workshops they offer truly be void of these ideologies? You don’t have to be smarter than a 5th-grader to know that answer.

To put it bluntly, there is no innocent partnership with NEP or ODD. There is no explanation for these partnerships—or any of the others described in the above-cited June 2020 presentation made to the WCSD Curriculum Committee—other than that WCSD administrators are knowingly working to indoctrinate our children in ways designed to last a lifetime.

Now that you are aware of this reality, are you okay with it?

If you’re not…what will you do about it?

We hope you’ll join us in working to end these partnerships. A simple email or phone call to the WCSD administration or Board of Education is an easy way to start. Attend a monthly school board meeting. You will not be alone in raising concerns about WCSD's incorporation of these divisive and damaging ideologies; in fact, you will surely find out that you’re among a majority opposed to them. The people pushing this agenda—or simply accepting it—need to know you’re watching and engaged. They need to know they don’t have the freedom to push these ideologies on your children any longer.

If you’re a parent outside the WCSD district, exploring your district’s partnerships and the content those partners provide is a great place to start in beginning to set things right. We hope this post has given you some helpful information about how to begin your search and that it points you toward some key players to look for.

We do not presume the partnerships we’ve uncovered are the only ones. Nor should you. So, keep your eyes wide open.

All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good parents do nothing.

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