Officials with the Arizona Department of Education have launched an internal review following revelations its staffers promoted an “equity” toolkit with content suggesting babies as young as 3 months old can be racist.
News of the toolkit was first reported by Christopher Rufo, a writer for City Journal and director of the Center on Wealth and Poverty at the Discovery Institute.
In a statement released Friday, the department said it “recognizes the need for resources that explore equity and inclusion issues as we work to ensure that every student has access to an education that allows them to achieve their full potential.” It went on to state the agency is working “to provide research and evidence-based guidance and best practices on these sensitive topics and how they intersect with delivering an equitable education.”
What was in the toolkit?
Rufo took a series of screenshots from the toolkit, one of which is titled, “They’re not too young to talk about race!” The paper cited a study claiming, “At birth, babies look equally at faces of all races. At 3 months, babies look more at faces that match the raise of their caregivers.”
The timeline went on to state “expressions of racial prejudice often peak at ages 4 and 5.” And that white kids “remain strongly biased in favor of whiteness,” beginning at 5 years old.
One of the recommended pieces of reading from HuffPost encourages white parents to “begin addressing issues of race and racism early, even before their children can speak” because “studies have indicated that infants as young as 3 months old can recognize racial differences.”
“White parents should make sure that their children see them interact in close, warm, intimate, trusting, and caring relationships with individuals whose race and ethnicity differs from their own,” the article stated.
It also emphasized the “importance of creating a home environment that challenges broader societal messages privileging whiteness, whether it’s through board books with characters of color, artwork in the house or even the people invited over.”
Another sheet in the department’s toolkit claimed babies aren’t “colorblind” and that parents have a responsibility to teach their children from birth to practice “anti-racist attitudes and actions” so their kids won’t “absorb bias from the world around them.”
Rufo’s report about the “equity” toolkit coincided with new data from the Department of Education showing a decline in public school enrollments across the state, according to KGUN-TV.
The department found there are around 38,000 fewer students attending public schools in the 2020-2021 school year compared to the previous academic year. Charter schools, however, have seen an 9% increase in enrollment.
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