Such viciousness reveals the lack of good arguments for the critical race perspective and that parents’ refusal to endorse racism has put agitators on the defensive.
By Joy Pullmann
APRIL 29, 2021
Kathy Del Calvo is not a racist. Of her four grown children, three are sons, and one of her sons is black. Her other two sons are married to black women.
Del Calvo is married to a naturalized American who was born in Cuba, and their family is that exciting blend of backgrounds, appearances, and cultures that used to be celebrated as embodying the American “melting pot.” Hispanic, African-American, European, Afro-Caribbean, immigrant, native-born, white, black, brown: American. That is the Del Calvo family of Southlake, Texas.
Eight of Del Calvo’s ten grandchildren attend school in Southlake’s Carroll Independent School District. Carroll started teaching that all white people are racists to address what it alleges is “structural racism” in the community. Parents who have publicly spoken against the speedy ideological transformation of their top-performing school district have been viciously smeared as racists—and more.
Last week a “progressive” group sent this postcard to every household in the district in advance of a May 1 school board election that’s become a referendum on a critical race theory plan for Southlake schools. It names local residents and even outs one to neighbors for a past criminal conviction, all for exercising their right to freely participate in the public process.
It’s a clear attempt to socially stigmatize and silence the private citizens named. Smearing and doxing private citizens to suppress their participation in public affairs is a social dynamic beginning to permeate American life. Such viciousness reveals the lack of good arguments for the critical race perspective and that local parents’ refusal to endorse racism in their schools has put local agitators on the defensive. It’s telling that the same anonymous people cruelly resurfacing a long-ago crime, for which the legal punishment is fulfilled and has been followed by years of community contributions to restore the offender’s good name, also want to criminalize students’ speech and increase their interactions with the justice system with potentially lifelong consequences.
Turning Kids into Criminals Over Insults
Carroll’s 2018 “Cultural Competence Action Plan,” or CCAP, included teaching children in “each grade” to see each other in racial terms and be treated according to skin color. It included a “tip line” for students to complain about each other as part of “an equity and inclusion grievance process system through which students can report instances of discrimination and other events that inhibit progress toward cultural competence goals.” Students reported by fellow students were to have their “microaggressions and discriminatory behaviors” logged in their permanent digital records. In an application for $382,000 in state crime victim grants, the district claimed microaggressions by minors are “crimes” that merit not only maintaining a lifelong digital record but also possibly interaction with the criminal justice system. That could, of course, create even more detailed records to publicize when students participate in the political process as adults.
In the application, the district claimed slurs and other mean comments from children cause “psychological and mental traumatic injuries” and that when they occur, “ALL students become traumatized and victims” (emphasis original). The state denied the grant. The plan also included mandates to hire teachers and staff according to race and sex instead of professional excellence. CCAP complemented teacher trainings that aimed to shame white people for their skin color and set lower standards for students of politically favored ethnicities. Both are illegal under Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, and hundreds of lawsuits are ongoing nationwide over similar institutionally racist systems.
So current Carroll ISD leaders have for the past three years been working to restructure the district around the idea of treating people differently based on skin color. Like many other school districts, and highly paid critical race theory salespeople such as Ibram X. Kendi, they call this “equity.” As shown in Carroll’s “cultural competence” plans, it all means lucrative jobs, contracts, and prestige for the people peddling racial segregation and animosity.
All this, when Carroll data shows an average of three incidents per month related to “microaggressions,” bullying, and racism. Given the district’s 8,500 students, that’s an annual rate of 0.3 percent. A judge has put CCAP on hold while a lawsuit against it proceeds.
‘Equal Opportunity, No Guaranteed Outcomes’
Southlake families, many under the umbrella of the Southlake Families PAC targeted in the postcard, have launched legal and rhetorical missiles at this plan to inculcate race-consciousness in kids and teachers and criminalize their speech and mistakes. It’s cost these families personally, but they worry the costs of not speaking out would be worse. “My black grandson doesn’t need a head start, he’s perfectly capable of succeeding on his own,” Del Calvo said. “I think some of these people who are so proud and pushing these agendas don’t realize that just because you are a person of color, you’re not necessarily dumb… Everyone should be given equal opportunity, but no guaranteed outcomes. You have to put in the work to get your desired outcome.”
Opponents of CCAP have filed lawsuits, pursued open records requests, put up websites, spoken at public meetings, organized a political action group, and worked to counteract hostile local and national corporate media depictions of the story. The Southlake Families PAC is backing a mayoral candidate, two city council candidates, and two school board candidates against the incumbents in the May 1 election.
A Hard Target for Race Hustlers
Many parents’ efforts to oppose leftist politics in public schools fail, such as to protect girls’ bathrooms and keep anti-American views from curricula. But Southlake parents are well above the average in skills, infrastructure, and leverage. They know how to fight, and they are willing.
Southlake Families PAC-endorsed school board candidate Hannah Smith, a lawyer, clerked for Samuel Alito and for Clarence Thomas at the U.S. Supreme Court and has spent two decades on high-profile litigation. The other school board candidate the PAC supports, Cam Bryan, is president of the North Texas Football league and a civil engineer responsible for managing a $750 million “airport infrastructure program,” according to his website. Both have children in Carroll schools.
The median Southlake income is nearly $220,000, approximately four times the national median. Ninety percent of households are married couples, and only 4 percent of local families are eligible for food stamps. Three-quarters of Southlake adults have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to one-third of adult Americans. Residents shell out nearly $18,000 every year for each of Carroll’s approximately 8,500 students, 90 percent of it from local taxes.
So it’s not surprising that Carroll ISD has been the No. 1 school district for the past five years on state tests (through 2019, the latest data available; Texas suspended tests in 2020 due to lockdowns). The Texas Education Agency rates every Carroll school an A. Public school sports teams are similarly top-ranked. In Southlake, there is no racial student achievement gap.
Southlake is also known as a conservative area, voting for the Republican candidate in the past five presidential elections, including for Donald Trump in 2020 by a 28-point margin. So when social justice warriors trotted in preaching racial warfare, they messed with the wrong community.
Two school board members were recently indicted by a grand jury on charges of conducting an illegal meeting to implement CCAP. On April 5, the board members were arrested, then freed on $500 bail hours later.
Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right
Del Calvo’s husband emigrated to the United States with his family when he was three years old, she said. They “lost everything in Cuba” and entered the United States with “absolutely nothing. I don’t need special treatment because of that, he doesn’t need special treatment,” she said. He was “fortunate enough to come to a country as great as the United States of America, and his family has ended up doing well.”
Her family believes all people should be treated equally regardless of skin color, ethnicity, sex, personal history, you name it. They believe people should be rewarded according to their hard work and choices, not ethnicity. So, for a lot of families with these kinds of histories and experiences, this fight is personal.
Southlake resident Jeff Blanchard isn’t a racist either. He has seven children: three biological and four foster. The foster children are refugees and illegal migrants from Iraq, Somalia, and Honduras. One was a Muslim threatened for his religion in a refugee camp. One foster child’s biological parents and brother were killed by a drug cartel.
Blanchard thinks racial discrimination and division are wrong no matter what labels you use to describe them. That’s why he’s volunteered to help the Southlake Families candidates with their campaigns. He’ll know if their efforts were successful after the election Saturday. “These kinds of activities or programs further divide communities,” he said of why he opposes the district’s plan. “They destroy that sense of community and unity that you have… They foster resentment and entitlement. It creates suspicion and really oppression. You don’t solve any kind of issue by having more negativity. You don’t right a wrong by another wrong.”
Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Sign up here to get early access to her next book, "How To Control The Internet So It Doesn’t Control You." Her bestselling ebook is "Classic Books for Young Children." A Hillsdale College honors graduate, @JoyPullmann is also the author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," from Encounter Books.
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