By: Mark Glennon*
With no press coverage whatsoever, state-mandated, unfunded implicit bias training for all Illinois public school teachers became law on June 30. The full text of Public Act 100-0014 is linked here. The chief sponsor was Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford).
“Each school board shall require in-service training for school personnel to include training to develop cultural competency, including understanding and reducing implicit racial bias,” says the new law.
Implicit racial bias, according to the statute, “means a preference, positive or negative, for a racial or ethnic group that operates outside of awareness. This bias has three different components: affective, behavioral and cognitive.”
What’s wrong with making teachers aware of unconscious bias, “positive or negative”? Nothing, if that’s how it turns out.
But the obvious question is whether this will become another self-defeating chapter of identity politics — champions of “equity” inflaming the racial divisions they claim to oppose. Specifically, will the training be done by the likes of the National Seed Project, PEG (the Pacific Education Group) and their supporters? They’re already training teachers in many Illinois schools.
For some background on the divisiveness and catastrophic failure they can bring, see the City Journal article on their work in St. Paul. Some of the controversy they brought to one Illinois district is discussed in an Evanston Roundtable article. Another article discusses use of federal Title 1 money, which is for helping students in poor districts, to send four school board members to a PEG conference in Baltimore “to engage in deepened conversations about the systematic racism and its impact on opportunity and achievement for all students.
Becoming conscious of inadvertent bias may seem to have obvious value, but you need to ask further whether it results in discriminatory behavior. That is, do most of us overcome any implicit bias we have by conscious, egalitarian efforts? The Chronicle of Higher Education discussed that question earlier this year:
The finding that changes in implicit bias don’t lead to changes in behavior, a co-author of the paper says, “should be stunning.”
Who will pay for this new teacher training? As usual, it’s an unfunded mandate by the state. The Illinois Principals Association and the Illinois Associate of School Boards opposed the bill for that reason.
That’s about the money. But who will really pay? Here’s how that City Journal article concludes:
Some form of implicit bias training will be coming to all Illinois public schools. It’s up to you to watch your school board to ensure they do it sensibly.
*Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.