Michael Swartz / November 17, 2021

Does Diversity Equal Academic Success?

The inclusion of “inclusion” officers in schools does not, in fact, lead to more inclusion — or learning.

We have heard a great deal about Critical Race Theory of late. In fact, some might argue the subject turned the Virginia governor’s race in favor of Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin. It’s been a prime subject among our scribes as well.

For CRT to enter the classroom in a particular school district, though, it needs to get a green light from the school board, which will often hire an administrator to implement the program. That administrator will be granted a title something along the line of “Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion,” and his or her job will be that of chief diversity officer, including the implementation of CRT and other feel-good pablum that melts the hearts of progressives but provides little in the way of useful education.

We can make that bold statement based on a recent Heritage Foundation study by Jay Greene, Ph.D. and James Paul. The two analyzed test score data from schools that hired diversity officers and compared the scores to those from schools that had no such position. Greene and Paul found, “The results show that the existence of CDOs may actually exacerbate achievement gaps between white and black students, white and Hispanic students, and wealthier and poor students.” In fact, they add, “These findings are consistent with the observation that CDOs have more to do with political activism than with improving education outcomes — or narrowing achievement gaps between students.”

Shocking, we know.

Of course, it’s no surprise to find that larger districts are the ones most likely to have a CDO. The oft-maligned Baltimore City Schools may turn out functionally illiterate graduates at a highly inflated cost, but they also keep someone’s mortgage paid as “Executive Director, The Office of Equity.”

Counter to that is the idea presented by Power Line’s John Hinderaker, who points out the Greene and Paul study is a good starting point. “While more research could help to show whether a school district’s focus on diversity initiatives helps or hurts minority students’ performance,” he writes, “it is easy to see why such an emphasis would be harmful rather than beneficial. Equity initiatives generally involve constant reference to race, combined with a lowering of standards for minority students (grades are a manifestation of white supremacy, etc.). It is easy to imagine that schools that don’t focus endlessly on race and that hold all students to the same standards will produce better results for minority students, and probably for white students as well.”

Sadly, the study by Greene and Paul finds that there’s a significant achievement gap between schools with a CDO and their non-CDO counterparts, and it’s a gap that’s getting wider.

While in days past there were millions of students who went to schools and districts that were whiter than Wonder Bread, while other schools may have had grains of salt in a sea of pepper, modern society has naturally brought diversity to a lot of places. It seems now that the only enclaves like those described above are those inner-city schools that have the money to staff an Office of Equity but can’t adequately heat or cool their buildings or back up their teachers who would like students to have some discipline and pay attention in class. For students trapped in those districts, the results don’t seem to diversify much from mediocrity.

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