Wealth & Poverty Review Failure Factory

Buffalo’s school district tells students that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism”—while presiding over miserable student outcomes. Originally published at City Journal

The story of Buffalo Public Schools is a sad and familiar one: a dying industrial town, underperforming inner-city schools, and high rates of failure among racial minorities. Instead of focusing on improving academic achievement, however, Buffalo school administrators have adopted fashionable new pedagogies: “culturally responsive teaching,” “pedagogy of liberation,” “equity-based instructional strategies,” and an “emancipatory curriculum.”

Buffalo Public Schools diversity czar Fatima Morrell, architect of the district’s pedagogical revolution, summarizes these dense phrases in a single word: “woke.” Last year, in her role as director of the Office of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives, Morrell created a new curriculum promoting Black Lives Matter in the classroom and an “antiracist” training program for teachers. According to one veteran teacher, who requested anonymity, Morrell’s training programs have pushed “radical politics” and, in practice, become a series of “scoldings, guilt-trips, and demands to demean oneself simply to make another feel ‘empowered.’” Teachers must submit to these “manipulative mind games” and express support for Morrell’s left-wing politics, or risk professional retaliation.

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