A Wayne County Public Schools' investigation has determined that the "white privilege" assignment Goldsboro High School's Christopher Horne gave teachers did satisfactorily meet state and local teacher development training requirements.
"Prior to the beginning of the second semester, Goldsboro High School’s principal surveyed teachers to determine professional development topics of interest and value to the staff," reports schools' spokesman Ken Derksen in a prepared statement from WCPS. "Based on the results, a number of professional development workshops were offered to teachers."
One of the five workshops offered focused on educational pedagogy, or the profession of teaching. The 15 teachers who chose to participate in the seminar studied a book called “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain,” by Zanetta Hammond, promoting a positive educational environment by emphasizing culturally responsive classroom instruction, the district's statement reads. The workshop also utilized other materials, including an article by Peggy McIntosh, entitled “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”
It is the McIntosh piece that was at the center of the investigation. The school district decided the assignment fit the workshop.
"All of the readings and assignments associated with the topic were intended to promote critical thinking and awareness and generate healthy discussion among professional educators," the statement reads. "Ultimately, the exercises were intended to inform school culture, further mutual understanding by and among students and staff, promote tolerance, and lead to improved student learning."
As such, Derksen said that the "business of education continues at Goldsboro High and the job status of all employees remains the same."
In previous reports, Horne gave more than a dozen teachers an assignment on March 18 to read and examine the white privilege article. The assignment also included teachers submitting a cultural biography, keeping a diary on points of white privilege they witnessed on campus and discuss both the material and their writing.
McIntosh's “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” is the 1988 work that can be found at https://bit.ly/2iDOEnD.The article is now considered a "classic" by anti-racist educators; the website states: “While people of color have described for years how whites benefit from unearned privileges, this is one of the first articles written by a white person on the topics."
In its statement, WCPS concluded, "The Wayne County Board of Education supports further training and dialogue around cultural diversity, awareness and tolerance, and believes more discussion is warranted in this area. The Board intends to explore effective means of conducting such training systemwide in the future in an effort to strengthen meaningful discourse and ultimately further the mission of public schools."