Anti-racism training at New Trier cost school thousands, records show
Developing a playbook to convince children at predominantly white New Trier High School that they need to drive out their inbred racism is a costly proposition – for taxpayers.
Expense records obtained by North Cook News show that the school's two leading advocates — as identified by a group of concerned parents — pushing the concept of “white privilege” at the school spent thousands of dollars on trips to attend training sessions called “Courageous Conversations” seminars, run by San Francisco-based Pacific Education Group.
The group “believes that systemic racism is a devastating factor that contributes to diminished capacity of all people, especially people of color," spokesman Kevin Cartwright told the North Cook News.
Timothy Hayes, assistant superintendent of student services at New Trier, made a trip to Baltimore in October 2015, where he spent either three, four or six nights at the Renaissance Hotel on the Inner Harbor – the expense listing is relatively cryptic. The total cost was more than $4,000. Trips to New Orleans in 2014 and California in 2013 show similar expenses running into the thousands of dollars.
Hayes' colleague, Patricia Savage-Williams, listed on the school website as “Department Coordinator, Psychologist, SEED, African American Club sponsor,” likewise spent thousands on "Courageous Conversations" summits.
As of press time, neither Hayes nor Savage-Williams returned phone calls or responded to email messages to comment on the trips and the expenses.
Betsy Hart of the group Parents of New Trier said that Hayes and Savage-Williams were the two leading promoters of all-day white privilege seminars held at the school in February 2016 and February of this year. They more recently announced plans to work the white privilege agenda into the everyday classroom.
“At a school board meeting in April, they backed off holding the seminar in 2018,” Hart told the North Cook News. “But there was talk of making it part of every classroom. We haven’t seen any details yet on how they plan to make this happen.”
Hart and other parents repeatedly asked the administration at New Trier to “expand the conversation” at the seminars. Instead, she said, “we were treated on the same level as the white supremacists in Charlottesville.”
“The outgoing Superintendent (Linda) Yonke said publicly that people objecting to the seminars were in denial of their own racism,” Hart said. “We’re still waiting for an apology.”
One of the topics at February's seminar was “Blackenomics 101 (The Movement, The Music, The Solution).” It was described this way: “The Rapper, entrepreneur, and activist, John the Author explores systemic racism in relation to building a black business and artist presence in minority communities. Empowering and embracing blackness is a way to move beyond the inequities seen in our country.”
Also, the North Cook News reported in February that New Trier paid $108,583 in consulting fees to another group dedicated to spreading a philosophy of “white privilege” to U.S. high school teachers.
The analysis of financial records uncovered 39 payments between December 2011 and February 2016 to Massachusetts-based SEED, or Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity, which Savage-Williams is listed on the school website as being part of. SEED identifies its mission as to train teachers to acknowledge white “oppression, power, and privilege.”