February 06, 2022 | By MacIver Staff
Policy Issues
Culture Education

CRT AT DSHA, A Private Catholic High School

Think CRT is only found in public schools? Think again. Catholic parents labeled terrorists for raising concerns about CRT.

Think CRT is only found in public schools? Think again

Catholic parents labeled terrorists for raising concerns about CRT

Catholic students afraid to defend Catholic faith in a Catholic school for fear of attack

Equity consultant teaches all are racist – Pope Francis? Mother Teresa?

Questionable Curriculum: Critical Race Theory In Wisconsin – A Continuing Series

Over the past year, the MacIver Institute has been sharing real examples of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Wisconsin classrooms. While most of MacIver’s work to date has focused on CRT in public schools, we have also come across CRT in private schools. One of the worst cases of CRT indoctrination, public or private, is found at the all-female Divine Savior Holy Angels (DSHA) High School, located in Milwaukee. According to the website, DSHA is a “dynamic Catholic college-preparatory educational environment’” with a firm devotion to “our Catholic identity and theology.”

DSHA is considered one of the better schools in the state, typically graduating all of its students and boasting of a 100% college acceptance rate.

A large group of concerned parents has been attempting to work with the DSHA administration for over a year to voice their concerns about the indoctrination of their children with CRT. The parents object to CRT’s core belief that racism is everywhere — our country is fundamentally racist and that every one of us is a racist, no matter what an individual does or does not do. These parents have actively tried to come to an understanding and a mutually agreed-upon solution with DSHA but to no avail.

DSHA’s mission is “to make known the goodness and kindness of Jesus Christ” and to develop “our students into capable young women of faith, heart, and intellect who accept the gospel call to live lives that will make a difference.” The administration has repeatedly referred back to this set of core beliefs throughout the conversation about CRT in the school.

Unfortunately, many parents feel that DSHA no longer actually believes in this mission because of the actions of the school. The parents feel that the administration does not truly value their input or care about their strong opposition to the teaching of CRT at DSHA.

These parents truly believe in the school’s stated goal that every person of every race be welcomed to DSHA with open arms and they want to work with the administration to reach that goal. They believe diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of their Catholic faith and that it is vital to the intellectual and spiritual growth of their children. It is one of the reasons why they choose to send their daughters to DSHA.

As we have documented all over the state, CRT, however, does not unite. CRT does not bring parents, educators, or a community together. CRT actually divides a school and breeds discord between groups based on skin color, ideology, faith, politics, and other factors. Instead of bringing everyone together in pursuit of the common good, CRT labels and divides people into different factions, pitting them against one another. That is exactly what has happened at DSHA.

Even though hundreds of parents have made it known to the administration that they do not want CRT taught at DSHA, the administration continues to promote and push CRT onto the students.

In one of the more recent incidents, many DSHA parents were disappointed and dismayed when their daughters received an invitation from the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Council (Dasher Dialogue) to attend a discussion about “performance activism & white savior complex.”

What is white savior complex? According to Savala Nolan, director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social justice at UC Berkeley School of Law (in an interview with Health Magazine):

The white savior complex is an ideology that is acted upon when a white person, from a position of superiority, attempts to help or rescue a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color) person or community. Whether this is done consciously or unconsciously, people with this complex have the underlying belief that they know best or that they have skills that BIPOC people don’t have.

“[They think] they are somehow in the position that should enable them to have more power in terms of solving the problem than the people who are impacted [by the problem],” Nolan tells Health.

If you are kind or helpful to someone who is different than you, white savior complex blames you. If you help someone, white savior complex finds your motives not to be altruistic or pure but to be selfish and spiteful. What a dark and diabolical view of the world and your fellow man.

Most alarming for the parents was the fact that the invitation shared with them only mentioned “performance activism.” The invitation sent to parents deliberately left off the “white savior complex” part of the conversation.

Unfortunately, this is just the latest example in a long line of incidents where the administration at DSHA is deceiving parents and alumni about their efforts to incorporate CRT into every aspect of a DSHA education.

The administration minimizes their feelings by ignoring, denying, and delaying the concerns raised. This has happened so often that many are left no choice but to think that the deception and misleading statements by the Administration are deliberate and direct proof that school leaders wholeheartedly endorse CRT, its radical view of our country, and its divisive teachings.

DSHA’s “Equity” Consultants

Like many other schools across the state, DSHA has hired multiple equity consultants to push CRT at the school in recent years. While CRT proponents try to cast the work of these consultants as an open conversation about how a teacher can become a better person and a more effective educator, in reality, the consultants push the CRT dogma that our country is fundamentally racist and that all of us are racist at our very core. The CRT consultants demand that this supposedly anti-racist political point of view be put into practice in the classroom and across all of education. It is changing how our children are taught and what our children are being taught. In districts all across the state, implementing CRT is leading to the elimination of all grades, the replacing of an F with a “No Pass” designation so a student’s GPA isn’t impacted, the elimination of standardized testing, the use of a minimal grade even if a student fails to turn in an assignment or scores below that minimal grade, and the elimination of honor classes. CRT is fundamentally changing the way we educate our students.

Equity is the opposite of equality. Equity, as the radical left is using it today, means every American, no matter their ability, work ethic, or moral fiber, should end up achieving the same result. This version of equity is rooted in communism.

DSHA hired an equity consultant following an “equity audit” of school operations and the environment at DSHA. The audit of the school was ordered after a video surfaced of a DSHA student using a racial slur and some DSHA alumni called on the school to make public the punishment handed out to those involved.

DSHA is not alone. Equity audits have been carried out by dozens of schools across the state. An equity audit is designed to find disparities in educational outcomes, school discipline or other metrics by different elements such as race, gender, ethnicity, or class. Instead of seeing the world through a colorblindness prism where you are judged not by the color of your skin but by your character and moral fiber, an equity audit judges everything by race, color of skin, ethnicity, etc. Equity audits, conducted by outside high-priced consultants, always show – surprise, surprise – that additional equity work is desperately needed and that the high-priced consultant can conveniently provide the services required to make the district anti-racist or at least attempt to make the district anti-racist.

It is important to point out that the DSHA equity audit was not shared with parents – not even a redacted version and not even after it was specially requested. This lack of transparency from the administration and the unwillingness to share such a key document led some parents to question if the administration is trying to hide something.

One of the consulting firms hired by DSHA is the Equity Literacy Institute (ELI), whose motto is “Learning to be a threat to inequity and a cultivator of equity in our spheres of influence.” ELI touts their expertise:

Prepar[es] us to recognize even the subtlest forms of bias, inequity, and oppression related to race, class, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, language, religion, immigration status, and other factors. Through equity literacy we prepare ourselves to understand how experience disparities, not just quantitatively measured outcome disparities, affect student access to equitable educational opportunity free of bias, inequity, and discrimination.

ELI believes that colorblindness is not only impossible, but it is also dangerous. Colorblindness is, of course, what Dr. Martin Luther King talked about when he said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Now, in the name of antiracism, equity, white privilege, culturally responsive teaching, white supremacy, or whatever term the radical left is using for Critical Race Theory, colorblindness is no longer acceptable and, in fact, groups like ELI determine it to be dangerous? Dangerous? Really?

Paul Gorski, ELI founder, has also expressed some radical and anti-religious views. In one tweet, Gorski states he believes that “the canon of western literature is white supremacy” and that educators should remove some of the classics from the curriculum and classroom. In another, Gorski celebrates teachers that are subversive, saying that those who “subvert what they’re told to do, to subvert systems designed to repress them and their students,” their “badassity” picks up his spirit.

How are his views consistent with the school’s mission to make known the goodness and kindness of Jesus Christ?

In late January of 2021, one of the trainers from ELI — Dr. Taharee Jackson — gave a presentation called “What’s Whiteness Got to Do with It? Facing Race, Racism, and Whiteness at DSHA” to staff members at the school. Again, this is not just a casual conversation about how a teacher can be a better person or a more effective educator. This presentation includes a call to action for teachers to actively push CRT in their classrooms and their work.

ELI defines equity as “a commitment to action: the process of redistributing access and opportunity to be fair and just” and “a way of being: the state of being free of bias, discrimination, and identity-predictable outcomes and experiences.”

Identity-predictable outcomes? The more you read about what CRT consultants are pushing on schools, the more you question if it is purposefully amorphous and incoherent.

Another presentation, entitled “Diversity Inclusivity Framework,” includes a chart outlining the “inclusivity continuum” and where DSHA is on that continuum. Two of these movements are particularly telling. The element of pedagogy — how students are taught — starts at “filling students with knowledge” and ends with the goal of making students “critical/equity oriented.” The “Assessment/evaluation” continuum starts with “Standard” and ends at “Methods suited to student diversity.”

It should be alarming to parents that “filling students with knowledge” is not the ultimate goal of teaching according to ELI. Instead, the goal is to implant students with the belief that our country is fundamentally and actively racist. ***

Another staff training from January 2021 was called “Antiracist Curriculum Across the Disciplines.” The presentation was led by Dr. Katy Swalwell. It starts out by defining race as an “ever-shifting social category based on perceived biological differences that don’t exist but have real-world consequences because of racism.” Swalwell also includes a slide with the term nonracism listed and then states that nonracism “doesn’t need a definition because it doesn’t exist.”

Think about that for a second. CRT proponents believe that every one of us, no matter how good a person we are or what is actually in our hearts, is a racist.

Pope Francis is a racist? Mother Theresa was a racist?

ELI is teaching staff at a catholic school that everyone and everything in this world is racist, even the most devout and pious follower of Christ? Does ELI believe that DSHA students are capable young women of faith, heart, and intellect? ELI seems to believe that every single one of them is a racist.

Given that there is no such thing as nonracism or being a nonracist, consulting firms like ELI will never be short of work. There will always be a need to teach others how to be “antiracists”. If you can conveniently never be successful in an endeavor or, in this case, in the elimination of a problem, there will always be high-paying work for these modern-day con artists.

Dr. Swalwell concludes her presentation with four considerations for the DSHA staff. The first consideration is to “Let student’s interests and needs inform you, recognize intragroup diversity.” The second is to “recognize and interrogate mechanics and impacts of oppression; interdisciplinary, year-round commitment.” The third consideration for staff is to “move beyond the ‘white gaze’ to make room for creativity and celebration.”

Finally, the last consideration is a call to action, asking teachers to “examine and practice taking action that disrupts racism.” Disrupting racism does not refer to stopping or addressing a specific incidence of racism. ELI wants DSHA teachers and Administration to incorporate CRT into their curriculum and classroom.

Many CRT advocates, including some school administrators we have highlighted previously, attempt to placate concerned parents by claiming that their CRT work is only “teacher training” and that it is not actually leading to any substantial changes in the curriculum or classroom.

That is exactly what has happened at DSHA.

Katie Koniecznyk, DSHA’s President and 1992 graduate, sent out a video message to the DSHA community, after parents spoke up to share their concerns with CRT, stating that “DSHA is not teaching critical race theory, we just aren’t, it’s not in our DEI plan, it’s not in our academic curriculum, it’s just not something that we are doing and I want to be clear about that.”

Koniecznyk could not be more direct or clear in her statement.

Unfortunately, Koniecznyk’s assurance turns out, is patently untrue. Not only is CRT teacher training everywhere at DSHA, but CRT is also impacting the curriculum. One of ELI’s slides talks about bringing social justice into the science lab and notes that it is easier than you think.

If that isn’t enough proof for you, consider this.

DSHA requires students to read “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (Peggy McIntosh) for a senior theology class. McIntosh’s piece leads with the quote, “I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.” McIntosh documents her own self-inspection as she attempts to identify “some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life.” Some of the more noteworthy observations:

    • I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me
    • I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented
    • I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race
    • I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair
    • I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them
    • I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color
    • I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race
    • I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared
    • I can be pretty sure that an argument with a co-worker of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine
    • I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection of my race
    • If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones
    • I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen
    • I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race
    • I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin

The color of a bandage is proof positive that our country and society are fundamentally racist? My body odor is a reflection of my race? My wife would tell you it just means I’m getting lazy and gross. If someone talks with their mouth full, I don’t care what color their skin is or think about their ethnicity, I just chalk it up to a lack of awareness and rudeness. Nothing more, nothing less.

When President Koniecznyk was confronted with McIntosh’s CRT teachings and the fact that this CRT training WAS a part of DSHA’s curriculum, despite her adamant and clear denial to the contrary, she tried to ignore and deny the main point of their concern. She tried to placate the parents by responding that McIntosh has been in use at DSHA for at least ten years. Koniecznyk did not acknowledge her mistake (lie), did not apologize for deceiving the parent group, and did not put out a new video to the DSHA community admitting her mistake or setting the record straight.

No, she thought it would be better to explain it away by saying that CRT has been around for at least ten years at DSHA.

Parents pointed out to the administration that these materials present only one point of view of the world, a very biased perspective that the country is made up solely of oppressors and the oppressed. Rather than present this one very slanted viewpoint as the gospel truth, parents have asked the Administration to acknowledge the extreme bias of CRT and bring in different perspectives or at least one that is grounded in their Catholic faith.

Koniecznyk denied their request.

The Impact on Students

The goal of CRT and many of the equity consulting groups — such as ELI or ICS Equity — is to create “an even playing field” for students. While this may sound again like a good thing, in practice, it means that Honor or Advanced Placement (AP) classes should be eliminated. Honor classes need to be eliminated because of CRT’s fundamental racist belief that some kids, some kids with a different skin color, cannot ever succeed at an academically rigorous endeavor like an honor class, and therefore, no one should have that opportunity. At DSHA, the school administration quietly did just that.

Through the 2020-2021 school year, freshman students were given the option to enroll in either Biology or Accelerated Biology. Now, all students take the same biology course. While it is called Accelerated Biology, this is not optimal for any of the students. Students who need a biology class to graduate but do not want to pursue biology as a career are now in the same class as a student who has a deep interest in biology or is looking to gain Advanced Placement credits towards their college education. This push to treat all students the same by forcing them into one class will only end up hurting all students. But it is key to CRT.

In CRT, there is no such thing as meritocracy. CRT does not believe your individual talent, work ethic or resoluteness should determine success or your lot in life. CRT believes that we all should end up at the same place, a safe and non-threatening place.

This push to eliminate honor classes in the name of equity didn’t stop with just biology. At a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) meeting in the Spring of 2021, the Dean of Students announced that the school would be moving to eliminate Honors Chemistry as well. However, thanks to the hard work and diligence of parents at DSHA, the administration reversed course and kept Honors Chemistry as a separate class. Parents did notice also that the announcement to eliminate Honors Chemistry did not come from an academic curriculum meeting but the DEI committee. The initial decision didn’t come from the group tasked by the school to ensure students are academically successful and college-ready. The decision came from a group pushing CRT, white privilege, and implicit bias. This came from a group concerned about political correctness, not a group concerned about what your daughter needs from DSHA to attend an Ivy League school.

The push to incorporate CRT into the classroom, the curriculum and to make everything about race at DSHA has also had a very real impact on the atmosphere at the school. Instead of creating an environment of greater inclusion and harmony, it has fostered animosity, fear, and emotional distress.

“I feel afraid to speak honestly during Dasher Dialogs or assemblies because no matter what I say, someone will point a finger and call me a racist,” one girl said

Students have been bullied online for political beliefs that contradict the CRT narrative. Many have felt too scared to voice their love for their Catholic faith when the Church and its teachings have come under attack. Girls have been excluded from certain clubs because of the color of their skin. Others have felt the need to stay home from school on demonstration days rather than be ostracized by DSHA staff or fellow students. Some girls have even felt discriminated against based on their religious opposition to the racist and divisive views of CRT. Girls who care deeply about their catholic faith are afraid to speak out about their faith in a catholic school. Too many girls have decided to stay silent for fear of attack or retribution.

One girl described the effect the charged atmosphere is having on her. “I feel afraid to speak honestly during Dasher Dialogs or assemblies because no matter what I say, someone will point a finger and call me a racist.”

The atmosphere and the change in the Catholic culture have been so bad that several parents have decided to withdraw their daughters from DSHA and move to a different school.

Even after many months of trying to get the administration to understand their concerns and supplying real examples of CRT at the school, DSHA’s Board of Directors continues to claim that “CRT is not part of the DSHA curriculum and you won’t find it in any of our syllabi. All professional development and training programs are closely aligned and consistent with our mission and values.”

Yet, the administration clearly pushes forward with Critical Race Theory. The school recently signed a new contract with Carney, Sandoe & Associates (CSA) to help in the district’s search for a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Some parents believe that the diversity program is dividing girls, labeling girls, and doing more harm than good. Parents question how it is acceptable to label girls as racist for sincerely-held views that are consistent with the Catholic Church.

CSA is a faculty recruiting firm that places a heavy emphasis on Diversity and Equity. CSA was the firm that found the school’s current President Koniecznyk.

“At Carney, Sandoe & Associates, we are committed to the importance of increasing equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging – both within our own organization and among the educational communities with whom we partner. Cognizant of our ability to reach a wide variety of schools, teachers, and educational leaders, it is our goal to provide educators with resources that help foster diverse and inclusive environments. We aim to facilitate continued learning and to encourage valuable networking opportunities.”

CSA, according to its website, believes that racism is the norm and that everyone is an active participant in white supremacy. CSA supports the controversial and factually-challenged 1619 project. ***

The decision by the administration to contract again with CSA demonstrates that the concerns of parents have not been taken seriously and that, after many months of effort, no real progress has been made.

In fact, the administration has stopped pretending to want to work with the parents altogether. Some teachers at the school and the Board of Directors now are openly and publicly criticizing the parent group. The Board, in a letter to the entire school community, labeled them as detractors who want to attack the school and undermine the integrity of the school. The parent group, which has always approached this conversation with respect and civility, is disappointed and dismayed by the Board’s attack.

At a staff meeting, a teacher referred to parents questioning CRT as terrorists. Terrorists? Call them a terrorist for the sin of wanting to preserve and strengthen DSHA’s Catholic identity? A terrorist? Really? It should be unthinkable that one would utter such bile but it seems to be rather commonplace these days for CRT zealots to attack and bully anyone who will not dutifully profess allegiance to their warped dogma.

Despite the hostile treatment from the administration and the Board of directors, the concerned parents still believe a resolution is possible.

The parents believe the answer lies with their faith. The parents believe that the DSHA full community can and should lead on diversity in a way that is consistent with their Catholic values.

The parents believe that everything needed to create an environment of inclusiveness can be found in the Bible, not CRT.

Even if you are not Catholic, DSHA should serve as a wake-up call for you. The sad and infuriating situation at DSHA is a warning to all who believe in our country and the abundant opportunities it affords everyone who is blessed to live here. If you thought that CRT was just a problem of the public secular schools or only happens in a liberal bastion like Madison, you are sadly mistaken.

CRT and the dramatically-growing industry of anti-America academics, swindler consultants, and paid protestors who push CRT intend to indoctrinate every one of our children with its vile beliefs and will not stop until every institution of our country is fundamentally changed to indoctrinate all of us with their evil view of humanity and the world that we live in.

We all need to wake up before it is too late.

Questionable Curriculum: Critical Race Theory (Et Al) In Wisconsin – A Continuing Series

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