A Massachusetts public school district is reportedly encouraging its students to turn in their peers and teachers over any speech infractions that might indicate an inherent bias.
What are the details?
Administrators at Massachusetts' Wellesley Public Schools are reportedly "encouraging students and staff to file complaints against one another for telling rude jokes, referring to the 'China virus,' and committing microaggressions or other 'incidents of bias,'" National Review reported Tuesday.
In its reporting, the outlet cited documents from the district's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which nonprofit group Parents Defending Education recently released.
The documents detail the district's policy on "responding to incidents of bias or discrimination" and also features slides from a purported staff training course addressing how to handle such incidents.
"The Wellesley policy states that 'discrimination based on ancestry, race, color, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, or any other state or federally protected category is not tolerated,'" the outlet noted. Incidents of bias are defined as "any biased conduct, speech, or expression that has an impact but may not involve criminal action, but demonstrates conscious or unconscious bias that targets individuals or groups that are part of a federally protected class."
Further, the group reported that students are encouraged to report any related incidents — including "any concerning pattern of biased behavior" — to administrators or "trusted" adults.
"Reports of any concerning behavior may be made anonymously," one document added.
What are more specific examples of infractions?
One training slide according to the group explained that "telling rude jokes" that "mock a protected group in person or through any electronic device" is a bias-based incident that ought to be reported.
Other instances reportedly include "using slurs, imitating someone with a disability, or imitating someone's cultural norm or language," National Review added.
Examples of "microaggressions" are also said to include phrases such as "My principal is so crazy!" or referring to COVID-19 as the "China Virus."
Discipline for related offenses includes, but is not limited to, "detention, suspension, or other restorative responses that require them to acknowledge their responsibility and minimize its impact."
Nicole Neily, president and founder of Parents Defending Education, wrote a Monday editorial piece for RealClearEducation regarding what she says is the indoctrination of K-12 students.
A program of concern — which she says is sweeping the country — is the aforementioned "bias response team."
"It should surprise nobody that these programs have become weaponized in recent years," Neily wrote. "But to a growing number of K-12 administrators, that chilling isn't a bug – it's a feature. And it's why they're spreading."
She noted that Massachusetts' Wellesley Public Schools isn't the only district promoting such programs.
"In California, the Acalanes Union High School District maintains an online portal 'for students to report incidents of harm — acts of racism, bias, sexism, microaggressions, etc,'" she continued. "In Massachusetts, Wellesley Public Schools (WPS) maintains a policy on 'Responding to Bias-based Incidents,' which lists 'telling rude jokes' and 'using a slur or insult toward a student or their family' as examples of bias-based behavior; slides of a mandatory teacher training provide examples of microaggressions in the classroom, such as 'mispronouncing the names of students' and 'scheduling tests and project due dates on religious or cultural holidays.'"
Other states executing similar programs, Neily noted, include Maryland and Virginia.
"Students absorb more in school than simply lesson plans; they're also learning how to interact with individuals who come from different backgrounds and viewpoints," she warned. "Bias response teams send a clear message not only that certain opinions are wrong but that the correct coping method, when confronted with such a situation, is to 'go tell the grownups.'"
She concluded, "Creating the expectation that authority figures can – or should – adjudicate all interpersonal disputes isn't just denying children the opportunity to develop better interpersonal skills. It's also a slippery slope to big government, which by necessity must expand to fulfill this new role."