Report Shows Pentagon Funding DEI Content in Classrooms

THE WASHINGTON STAND—According to a new report, Pentagon schools pushed DEI propaganda on the children of armed service members stationed abroad.

The nonprofit government transparency watchdog Open the Books published  a report this month titled “Schools for Radicals: The Secret Push to Institute Radical DEI Curriculums within the Pentagon’s K-12 Public Schools,” detailing the efforts of the Department of Defense Education Activity to promote left-wing agendas in classrooms.

The report begins by noting that the DODEA operates 160 schools across seven states, 11 foreign nations, Guam, and Puerto Rico and is responsible for the education of over 66,000 students. The program’s budget for the 2023 fiscal year was $2.25 billion.

“Unfortunately, the DODEA has been pushing radical ideologies on children of military personnel for way too long,” said Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council senior fellow for education studies, in comments to The Washington Stand. “Imagine serving your nation on the battlefront and returning home to find your daughter is now your son, and to further learn that the schools provided to your family were the first to encourage this lie. This situation is outrageous and fixing it should be a priority for a Republican administration.”

Open the Books explained that it “used spending data gathered from federal checkbook database USASpending.gov. Other information was collected from FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests and through videos from the Equity and Access Summit provided by a whistleblower.” These are the report’s key findings:

The Pentagon Lied About Dismantling DEI Initiatives

According to Open the Books, the DODEA became the subject of intense scrutiny for its diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in 2022, after then-DEI chief Kelisa Wing made racist social media posts targeting white people. DODEA assured Congress in a 2023 hearing that it “would be dismantling its DEI department and transferring DEI chief Kelisa Wing to a different position, unrelated to DEI.”

The report continued, “In internal emails, however, [then-Executive Director] Thomas Brady stated DEI specialists would be embedded into different departments throughout the agency, and a new DEI Steering Committee would be formed, composed of agency executives and administrative staff.”

Furthermore, Open the Books reported that the DODEA continued using a controversial Equity and Access Summit even after coming under fire when videos from the summit were leaked to the public in 2021.

The report noted that, at the summit, “staffers discussed how the classrooms can make students more aware of social justice issues, hide ‘gender transitions’ from parents[,] and force ‘uncomfortable conversations’ on race onto both children and staff … ”

Instead of dismantling the program, DODEA “hid the public links to the summit videos days after the reports about them began circulating in the press, and the agency has liberally used Freedom of Information Act redactions to obfuscate emails, calendar invitations, and other data that would be useful in understanding its operations.”

DODEA Used SPLC Content in Classrooms

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a known left-wing activism organization, but DODEA still uses the group’s content in training teachers, according to whistleblowers cited in Open the Books’s report.

“Along with paid content, staffers have been found to use and advocate for a variety of troubling free resources that push radical ideologies in the classroom. Because the content is available online at no cost from organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, it is impossible to trace with spending data,” Open the Books noted.

In one instance, an SPLC Learning for Justice handbook titled “Let’s Talk!” was used. That handbook claims  that students “recognize the injustice inherent in racism, gender bias, ableism, anti-immigrant sentiment, religious and anti-LGBTQ bias and more” and encourages teachers to start and foster conversations in the classroom on those topics. The handbook specifically tells teachers that they may “plan” these conversations “ahead of time.”

It also includes sporadic “glossaries” defining or redefining terms like “identity,” “dominant identity group,” “intersectionality,” “injustice,” “bias,” “discrimination,” and others.

Teachers are encouraged to in turn encourage students to consider what makes up their identity from a list of “identities” such as ability, age, body type, ethnicity, gender identity, home language, immigration status, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.

In another instance, according to a whistleblower, a DODEA Headquarters physical education specialist boasted of how closely the DODEA’s College and Career Readiness Standards “line up with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ‘Social Justice Standards: Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework .’”

Another DODEA teacher explained that SPLC Social Justice Standards are “a road map to develop anti-bias education for every grade level and focus on four domains: Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action,” noting that SPLC standards are implemented into classroom content.

Tyler O’Neil , managing editor at The Daily Signal and author of “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” told The Washington Stand, “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s far-left activism has no place in schools, much less in the classrooms where America’s brave service members entrust their kids’ education.” He continued:

The men and women who lay their lives on the line for our country shouldn’t have to worry about their kids getting brainwashed and turned into social justice activists at a young age. The Department of Defense also has no business legitimizing the SPLC, a far-left smear factory that routinely brands mainstream conservative and Christian organizations ‘hate groups’ and places them on a ‘hate map’ with chapters of the Ku Klux Klan. This smear inspired an act of terrorism in Washington, D.C., and the SPLC has been forced to hand over sensitive documents in the discovery process for a key defamation lawsuit. A former SPLC staffer exposed this ‘highly profitable scam’ in 2019, yet it seems the DOD failed to notice. This is a disservice to children and it gives undue legitimacy to a corrupt organization. The brave men and women who risk life and limb for our freedom deserve better.

Family Research Council’s Kilgannon published  a report in 2021 examining the SPLC’s Learning for Justice program, calling it “a particular threat to our values and religious freedom: divisive identity politics inserted into school curricula.”

Based on the organization’s divisive identity politics, promotion of critical race theory , and LGBTQ+ classroom activism, Kilgannon concluded, “The SPLC is a highly partisan and ideological organization that cannot be trusted to inform the minds of our nation’s children.”

DODEA Hired Third-Party Contractors to Conduct DEI Training on Taxpayers’ Dime

According to Open the Books, DODEA has not only free resources from the SPLC but spends millions of dollars hiring third-party contractors to promote DEI in classroom programs, too.

Between 2019 and 2023, DODEA paid nearly $2 million to Advancement Via Individual Determination, a company that has openly expressed “solidarity” with radical organizations like Black Lives Matter . The group conducts training sessions on topics like “power” and “privilege” and is “a major part of student life at DoDEA.”

DODEA paid over $2.4 million to Discovery Education between 2019 and 2023. Described in the report as a “media platform,” the program hosts purportedly educational videos for classroom use.

Open the Books noted, “One [Discovery Education] ‘channel’ recommended by DoDEA staff is called ‘Dissent, Equity, and Inspiring Change,’ which is intended to ‘help educators facilitate classroom conversations and much-needed discussions about implicit bias and systemic racism, human rights, equity, social justice, dissent, protest, and empathy.’”

The Goodheart-Willcox Co. has been paid over $1 million by DODEA and the company’s health program is “used across DoDEA for health education.” According to a whistleblower cited in the report, the health program discusses “sexuality,” “gender and gender identity,” “sexual orientation,” and “sexual experiences and thoughts” and encourages students to learn about and explore their own sexualities.

Described as “learning management software,” Schoology has been paid nearly $1.5 million by DODEA. While the program is “intended to help kids and teachers keep track of their homework, quizzes, and grades,” DODEA teachers and trainers have recommended that their colleagues use the program “to facilitate secret chatrooms around sexuality and gender topics, outside of the eyes of parents.”

DODEA Spending Is Increasing With Almost No Accountability

Open the Books noted in its report that DODEA federal grant spending has “roughly tripled since 2020, from $20 to over $70 million annually,” approximately $300 million is spent annually on contractors, and over $1 billion is spent on salaries, “but individual salaries remain a mystery, as DoDEA refused to disclose this data, unlike nearly every other federal agency or school district across the country.”

Despite its substantial budget, DODEA has repeatedly stonewalled not only Open the Books but even Congress whenever inquiries are made into what is spent on DEI programs.

DODEA’s DEI Steering Committee is reportedly comprised of CEO Thomas Brady, DODEA’s chief operating officer, DODEA’s chief academic officer, and 12 others. But the agency has refused to answer FOIA requests regarding the identities of those others. Any information that was provided to Open the Books was “so redacted that [it was] practically unusable … ”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, reportedly questioned Brady about “wasteful travel spending,” but did not receive an informative response. Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s, R-Mo., queries regarding DODEA’s policies regarding students’ gender transitions have gone unanswered. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., demanded information on the activity of DODEA’s DEI Steering Committee earlier this year but has also yet to receive a response.

Open the Books noted that it “has appealed the redaction decisions on our FOIAs, but the wait time for an appeal response—even if successful—can take many months to a year or more.” The watchdog observed, “This is far too long for military parents, policymakers, and taxpayers to wait to see how their money is being spent indoctrinating children into radical ideologies.”

Originally published by The Washington Stand

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