A Wisconsin school district has been criticized for offering a whites-only class on racism that encourages participants to explore their “privilege, whiteness and racism.”
in a email shared on social mediaMiddleton-Cross Plains Area School District Director of Student, Family and Staff Engagement, Mr. Tony R. Dugas, invited the community to participate in a “powerful” 10-week “Witnesses to Whiteness” series “meticulously made for white people committed to working against racism.’
Parents Defending Education is filing a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District for offering the course.
The complaint claims that the class violates Title VI and the 14th Amendment because it uses federal funds to discriminate on the basis of race and national origin.
Parents Defending Education vice president Caroline Moore told DailyMail.com: “Specifically targeting students based on race or sex is blatant discrimination and has no place in public schools.”
Parents Defending Education has filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District for offering a ‘Witnesses to Whiteness’ course
Middleton Director of Student, Family and Staff Engagement, Mr. Tony R. Dugas (pictured), invited the community to participate in a 10-week series ‘meticulously crafted for white people committed to anti-racism work ‘.
‘All students, regardless of their background, country of origin, sex or race, can participate in all educational programming. Any school that does not meet this minimum requirement should submit documentation to open a private school,” he added.
DailyMail.com has contacted the school district and principals for comment.
Dugas said in the invitation that the class uses Shelly Tochluk’s book Witness to Whiteness and the curriculum to lead a group discussion of 20 or fewer white people.
“In this affinity space, for white attendees, we foster an environment of deep exploration through experiential activities, group discussions, breakout rooms, and interactive learning,” Dugas said.
“The series aims to build a community with a shared understanding of privilege, whiteness, and racism, enhancing their ability to initiate, support, and deepen efforts for racial justice.”
“In addition, it is designed to cultivate leadership capabilities in the areas of diversity, inclusion and race.”
Tochluk website describes the book as “a comprehensive, nuanced, step-by-step path toward a deeper understanding of race and anti-racist action.”
Parents Defending Education argued that the program is dividing the community because it discriminates on the basis of race.
‘The invitation aims for the affinity space to “cultivate[s] leadership capabilities in the areas of diversity, inclusion and race,” but by dividing students and parents based on skin color and ethnicity, it is actually doing the exact opposite,” the complaint says.
‘Affinity groups were created for students to unite around a common interest or hobby. “Unfortunately, in recent years, affinity groups have become divided into groups that intentionally separate students based on race or gender,” Moore added.
The class uses the book Witness to Whiteness by Shelly Tochluk (pictured) and the curriculum to lead a group discussion of 20 or fewer white people.
Tochluk’s website describes the book as “a comprehensive, nuanced, step-by-step path toward a deeper understanding of race and anti-racist action.”
The complaint cites an earlier ruling by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights that found the Oak Park River Forest High School District in Illinois discriminated against students based on race by hosting a student-only Black Lives Matter assembly. African Americans in 2015.
TO user in Xformerly known as Twitter, said they contacted Middleton-Cross Plains Area School Board President Sheila Hibner about the group Witnessing Whiteness.
“This is an optional professional learning opportunity not facilitated by MCPASD staff,” Hibner said in the response posted on social media.
“It was shared because we received requests from our staff for learning opportunities like this,” he added.
“As our district becomes increasingly racially diverse, we want to provide our staff with tools and resources that will be helpful in their work with students and families.”
Webster University has been offering a free Testimony of Whiteness program to St. Louis-area faculty and staff, in partnership with the Young Women’s Christian Association, for the past three years.
“My motivation for joining the Witness Whiteness program was because I want to be a part of living and working in communities that are intentionally working for racial equity,” said Hannah Verity, director of global program development at Webster University.
“Today, as a white person in America, you don’t necessarily understand the full story of what black people have gone through in this country and why,” added Director of Parent Engagement Billy Ratz.
“Witnessing whiteness opens your eyes to that and makes you really understand the full historical significance of the laws that are passed and the institutional racism across the country.”
Young Women’s Christian Association instructors lead 10 two-hour sessions over 15 weeks to teach each chapter of Tochluk’s book.
According to Webster University, the Young Women’s Christian Association has been sponsoring Witnessing to Whiteness groups since 2011.
Adrian E. Bracy, executive director of the YWCA Metropolitan St. Louis, said in The Kansas City star, ‘Our program has created many dedicated allies in the fight for racial justice through education. Then, its participants have taken the message of equity and justice to their tables, churches, neighborhoods and workplaces.’
“The fact that the conversation begins in a segregated space in no way indicates that it ends there.”
‘YWCA asks Witnesses to Whiteness participants to change their thinking. “Instead of the idea that race affects only others, we challenge them to recognize that race also affects white people,” Bracy said.