Oregon Department of Education criticized for ‘picking winners and losers,’ prioritizing racial ideology

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The The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) has It focused heavily on diversity, fairness, and inclusion, but critics of the department said this made the focus on students and academics tantamount to picking winners and losers.

The department’s website reads: “The Oregon Department of Education promotes equality and excellence for every learner by collaborating with teachers, partners, and communities.”

The “Justice Lenses” at the Ministry of EducationProminently featured on the website, it is designed to help ‘educators and decision-makers learn about institutional and systemic barriers and discriminatory practices’ within the education system. A document on the department’s website lists questions to consider when allocating resources, such as what barriers exist To achieve fair results, how racial and ethnic data is collected.

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A group of girls sitting and talking at the school table.
(iStock)

One former ODE employee said this was essentially a signal of virtue among the department’s leadership.

“While ODE leaders seem to take every opportunity to signal virtue both internally and externally, their primary goals appear to include pocketing their own pockets and ensuring that their friends and allies outside of ODE obtain lucrative contracts with little or no accountability,” the former ODE employee, who asked not to be disclosed. About his identity, he told Fox News Digital.

Mark Thielman, a former school superintendent who ran for governor of Oregon, said the system was beginning to pick winners and losers.

“What we have is a system that has lost focus on its primary purpose, picking and choosing winners and losers. Everything about it is designed to undermine the system as it exists,” Tillman told Fox News Digital.

A little girl wears a school bag when crossing the street on her way to school

A little girl wears a school bag when crossing the street on her way to school
(iStock)

The Teacher Development Council within the ODE aims to “help the State of Oregon access quality, well-supported, and culturally responsive teachers in every classroom.” Shadín Garcia previously served as executive director of the Teacher Development Board, under which the Racial Justice Institute (RJI) was established to “provide culturally and racially affirmative learning environments for educators,” according to the RJI website.

The Democratic Education Institute of America (IDEA), a Mississippi-based organization, has been awarded a $2 million contract from the Education Development Board to create RJI, which will provide professional development “for up to 600 racially, ethnically, or linguistically diverse teachers across the school system from one class to another.” Pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.

According to Garcia’s LinkedIn, she later left ODE and is now the Executive Vice President of the Metropolitan Group, along with being the principal coordinator and facilitator of IDEA’s Institute for Racial Justice.

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Daniel Ramirez served as interim CEO of the ODE Teacher Development Board from September 2020 to July 2021, according to LinkedIn. While at the Department of Education, Ramirez served as the point of contact for a contract with Community Design Partners, which expanded from $545,000 to more than $1.6 million. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid to Community Design Partners for this contract by Ramirez.

Ramirez subsequently left the Department of Education to work for Community Design Partners, starting in July 2021 according to his LinkedIn profile. The Community Design Partners website says the organization is “dedicated to a broad range of social justice issues such as access to post-secondary options, diversification of the educational workforce, and promoting student success by removing curricular barriers.”

School children happy to go to school

School children happy to go to school
(iStock)

Carmen Urbina is the owner of the Oregon Center for Equality in Education (OCEE), and concurrently served as Deputy Director of ODE. In her position at the Ministry of Education, Urbaina signed off on a “Take it Up” training to be delivered to ODE staff. The training was developed by Urbina’s subsidiary OCEE, and delivered by a former OCEE owner. The training document provided to ODE employees goes so far as to list “Special Recognition for the Oregon Center for Equality in Education.”

In a contract application form that questioned whether the contract could “benefit the persons concerned,” Urbina did not mention any conflict of interest; However, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said that out of “extreme caution”, Urbina declared a potential conflict of interest for them.

The “take it” training itself was a two-day seminar, and focused on “institutional racial barriers to eliminating racial disparities in academic achievement in school.”

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Office of Energy Development spokesman Mark Siegel said that in all of these cases, the procurement process was completed “with integrity and adherence to state laws and practice.” He also noted that the department is working to align with Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 2018-3 “Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Opportunities for Oregon’s Minority Women-owned, Disabled-Owned, Veteran-Owned, and Emerging Small Businesses” within the process.

Tillman said the Department of Education’s justice priorities are being filtered out to K-12 . schools and affect education.

“ODE has worked hard to purge the industry in general of conservatives,” Tillman said, Parents’ encouragement to withdraw their children from public school if they can. “There is no representation of a conservative father, that is not happening.”

Ultimately, Thielman said, the entire funding for the Department of Education is dedicated to advancing racial ideology.

Thielman said changing the department’s structure would need an overhaul of the leadership. “The ODE is nothing but a political organization of the ruler,” he added.

school lockers picture

school lockers picture
(iStock)

Siegel advocated the focus on fairness within the ODE.

“It’s clear that racial equality must be addressed to support every learner,” he told Fox News Digital. “We know that there are long-standing disparities in our systems that have resulted in gaps in outcomes for students of color.” “We emphasize culturally responsive professional learning and an inclusive curriculum that reflects all communities in our state. There is an intellectual and ethical basis for focusing equity in professional learning and teaching materials, primarily so that the ODE can fulfill its responsibility to create conditions in which each student can reach their potential full”.

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“There is a long and painful history of racial prejudice in education. Students are ready to change systems and institutions. Creating a fair and equitable learning environment that embraces learners’ history and experiences is not only beneficial to students, but also our communities and our common future.”

Metropolitan Group, IDEA and Community Design Partners did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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