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Los Angeles public schools training teachers that ‘merit,’ ‘individualism’ rooted in ‘whiteness’

FIRST ON FOX: The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is training teachers and staff that “merit” and “individualism” are concepts rooted in “whiteness” that must be challenged in schools.

LAUSD required all employees to undergo “implicit/unconscious bias training” guided by Tyrone Howard, a critical race theory (CRT) advocate and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, prior to the 2021-2022 school year.

The training materials, which were obtained by Fox News Digital through a California Public Records Act (PRA) request, instructed educators to work toward being “antiracist” by challenging whiteness at school, which Howard argued exists in the concepts of “merit” and “individualism.”

“This idea that white is the standard, white is the norm, white is our default has to be challenged,” Howard said in the training video. 

Merit, or meritocracy, “assumes that each person operates and achieves based on his or her own personal capacity,” the training handout reads. “It incorporates the notion that the work put forth, the effort invested, explains why some groups and individuals do well and others do not. It does not consider historical factors or account for opportunities, advantages, and privileges to which some groups have access both historically and in the present.”

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“The idea of meritocracy,” Howard said in the video, “I think we have to challenge that because we have to recognize that some groups have had much more opportunities, some groups have had far more advantages, and some groups have certain types of privileges that other groups have not had.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) required all employees to undergo "implicit/unconscious bias training" prior to the 2021-2022 school year.

Meanwhile, individualism, according to the training handout, “proposes that each person is responsible for his or her outcomes. It is very much tied to merit, wherein group responsibility and accountability are not goals. Personal success and achievement are the goals. This belief operates from a survival-of-the-fittest approach that stresses singular pursuit and accomplishment.”

Howard argued in the video that “the notion of individualism runs counter” to many LAUSD students’ “own cultural norms, which say ‘it’s not about me, it’s about we.’”

The Placentia Yorba Linda School Board in Yorba Linda, CA, discusses a proposed resolution to ban teaching critical race theory in schools on November 16, 2021.

The training handout included a section about dismantling the “myth of meritocracy” that included examples of “microaggressions,” including the statement, “Everyone can succeed in the society if they work hard enough,” and “men and women have equal opportunities for achievement.” The training then offered an intervention example for dealing with the microaggressor, such as, “So you feel that everyone can succeed in the society if they work hard enough. Can you give me some examples?”

LAUSD employees who underwent the training were also required to “identify the specific ways the constructs of privilege, whiteness, merit and individualism may be present in your setting” and “determine the immediate changes you will personally make, small or large, to promote increased racial and cultural sensitivity, inclusiveness and awareness in your work.”

LAUSD mandated the training last May, saying in a memo that its goal was to create inclusive schools and to eliminate bias in the classroom.

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