Letter to the Editor: I wanted to take this opportunity to express my thoughts on the recent nomination of Chala Holland for the position of Principal of Lake Forest High School. Like many other citizens of Lake Forest, I was shocked that someone of her background and beliefs (and thin resume) would be considered as an appropriate choice for our community.
Chala Holland has made a career of helping those students she feels are victims of institutional racism. Her website and other evidence points to an educator who is extremely race conscious and primarily holds white privilege responsible for the underachievement of minorities. What is not known, and has never been answered to the satisfaction of the Lake Forest stakeholders, is why she is interested in a job at a high school with relatively few minorities and, conversely, why the Superintendent believes she is an appropriate fit for this community. Certainly Chala Holland is liked and admired by friends and like-minded colleagues, but there are serious concerns about what her agenda is and what LFHS will look like under her stewardship.
Often, the best indication of the future is the past. We have all seen the archived pages from her consulting company’s scrubbed website. We have seen her preoccupation with racial issues, her view that academic tracking is a form of “Jim Crow”, and her endorsement of Malcolm X and his statement that “Only a fool would allow an enemy to teach his children!”
These views, and her attempts to cover them up, leave one wondering how deep these beliefs run and to what extent she will take them. To get a view of what the future may hold for LFHS, it may be helpful to examine her connection to the Pacific Educational Group and their signature product, “Courageous Conversations about Race”. Chala Holland is clearly an adherent and supporter of this very controversial group as evidenced by the following:
- When Oak Park River Forest Principal Nathaniel Rouse presented the Pacific Education Group contract to the OPRF Board of Education in 2011, he introduced Chala Holland with the following statement: “Next year, Ms. Chala Holland, our new Assistant Principal for Instructional Administration, will also be joining our leadership structure based upon her extensive background in critical race theory and CCAR. Courageous Conversations about Race (CCAR), written by Glenn Singleton, founder of Pacific Educational Group (PEG).”
- In 2009, at the “Summit for Courageous Conversation” in Baltimore, a Pacific Education Group sponsored event, Chala Holland was presented the “Summit Recognition Award”
The Pacific Educational Group (PEG) is a consulting group, founded by Glenn Singleton, that has received great notoriety for charging high fees to a number of school districts to provide advice and training on racial issues in education. The views of PEG on race and education are quite controversial and center on the blaming of a white power structure for the educational underperformance of minorities. What should be most concerning to a school system considering a relationship with PEG is not just their lack of documented positive results, but the turmoil that often accompanies their involvement:
- PEG and Glenn Singleton received public criticism recently as the topic of discussion on a primetime Fox News segment (O’Reilly Factor, “Talking Points Memo”, June 3, 2015) because of the breakdown in discipline in the St. Paul, MN school district. The piece laid the blame for the chaos in the schools at the feet of PEG who consults for St. Paul and discourages the disciplining of minority students (on the theory that their misbehavior is the result of racism on the part of their white teachers). http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2015/06/04/bill-oreilly-get-ready-for-underclass/. Further details on this situation can be found in the original news report that O’Reilly cites in his piece: http://eagnews.org/teachers-complain-chaos-reigns-as-st-paul-schools-spend-millions-on-white-privilege-training/ (In a move ironically similar to Ms. Holland’s actions, PEG wiped their client lists off their website shortly after the television story aired.)
- PEG was hired by the Seattle School System in 2002. The school system subsequently began reassigning students to schools based on their race and a group of concerned parents subsequently filed a lawsuit against the school (Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District). In 2006 the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 2007 the Court found in favor of the parents and, in doing so, specifically called out the school system’s publicly posted definitions of “racism” that were apparently inspired by PEG. https://cei.org/blog/embarrass-your-employer-while-getting-rich-diversity-scams
- Other stories and criticism abound about PEG and their rhetoric and methods. Ann Arbor found itself in the middle of controversy after hiring PEG when they conducted a “blacks-only” field trip http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arbor-school-district-ends-controversial-program-only-open-to-black-students/
- There is also concern that PEG’s methods of conducting staff training will eventually end in a lawsuit for one of the hiring school systems. It has been suggested that the reportedly aggressive, confrontational tone used by the consultants when conducting staff training with white teachers and administrators could potentially lead to a racial harassment lawsuit. https://cei.org/blog/arlington-schools-hire-race-baiting-diversity-consultant
Given Chala Holland’s past relationship with the Pacific Educational Group, and the similarities of their views and past activities, it is quite possible that PEG will be hired to consult at LFHS on matters of race and provide “diversity training” to the staff. Certainly, we would not want LFHS to end up with a reputation for reduced academic performance, disciplinary problems, and we would especially not want to end up as the focus of attention in the national news or in the Federal Courts. Even if the Pacific Education Group is not hired, given recent events, it is not clear whether the focus of the principal and Superintendent will be on a social agenda or on the unwavering pursuit of academic excellence that Lake Forest parents have come to expect.
I respectfully urge the Members of the District 115 Board of Education to reject the candidacy of Chala Holland and begin the search for an experienced principal that can provide our children with the best education possible.
Thomas C. Kienzle III, MD
This Letter to the Editor is from Thomas C. Kienzle III, MD of Lake Forest. Letters to the Editor represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of Daily North Shore.