‘Integrate DEI into Everything We Do’: Pentagon School System Pushes Progressive Ideology on Children of Service Members

The Pentagon’s education department pushes diversity, equity, and inclusion on the children of United States service members and promotes progressive activism among students and faculty, internal documents show.

The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), the federal school system for children of U.S. military personnel, uses professional development materials that focus on concepts like “privilege,” “institutional racism,” and “patriarchy” in training its teachers, nonprofit watchdog organization OpenTheBooks revealed in a new report based on curricula guides for teachers and internal communications.

DoDEA’s “Blueprint for Continuous Improvement,” a guide published in July 2022, details the school system’s “strategic plan.” Included in the guide is a slideshow on DEI and its importance to the system’s educational offerings.

The document defines diversity as “the presence of differences that may include race, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religious commitment, or political perspective,” as well as “populations that have been — and remain — underrepresented among practitioners in the field and marginalized in the broader society.”

Equity, according to the blueprint, entails “promoting justice, impartiality and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems.” According to the DoDEA guide, “tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.”

DoDEA’s strategic plan refers to inclusion as “an outcome to ensure those that are diverse feel and/or are welcomed.” An inclusion outcome, as the guide says, is “met when you, your institution, and your program are truly inviting to all.”

Also in the guide is a quote from DoDEA director Tom Brady: “We seek to integrate DEI into everything that we do — recruitment and retention, development and promotion, teaching and learning, and our culture and climate.”

In his note at the beginning of the blueprint, Brady wrote that “DEI will be intentionally integrated across our organization into our human capital plan, curricular decisions, and instructional practices as well as into our everyday interactions that continually advance our organizational culture.”

At the top of the guide, DoDEA promotes a book titled Coaching for Equity: Conversations that Change Practice by education consultant Elena Aguilar.

Coaching for Equity offers extensive strategies for talking about race, power, and systems of oppression, strategies which lead to changes in a teacher’s practice,” a blurb about the book reads. “This book is for teachers, leaders, and coaches who accept responsibility for interrupting inequities in schools and who want to build the knowledge and skills to coach for equity.”

Coaching for Equity ends, the OpenTheBooks report notes, with a list of reading for recommendations. That list includes such titles as the 1619 ProjectDying of WhitenessMe and White Supremacy, and White Fragility.

While DoDEA officially disbanded its DEI office in 2023, internal documents show that the change was purely cosmetic.

“Within the next month, we will integrate our DEI Specialists into four key divisions at headquarters: Research, Accountability, and Evaluation; Strategic and Organizational Excellence; Professional Learning; and Human Resources,” Brady wrote in a March 2023 email to the entire DoDEA system. “To maintain a strategic focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in our organization, we initiated a DEI Steering Committee at headquarters.”

DoDEA uses a professional development plan provided by Learning Forward, an organization that includes among its values “embrac[ing] equity and diversity” and helps “educators hone their advocacy skills.”

Learning Forward’s standards for educators detail the ideological underpinnings of the materials the Pentagon uses to train its teachers.

“Educators build their understanding both the system of which they are a part, examining systemic inequities, institutional biases, power dynamics, prevalent mindsets, and expectations and misconceptions about learning and abilities,” the standards affirm. “They develop their understanding about issue such as representation and unconscious bias and how these impact schools and classrooms.”

Learning Forward also promotes “explor[ing] how education is funded and its connections to other elemental aspects of society, including health care, childcare, housing, and the workforce.”

DoDEA’s use of DEI-tinged lesson plans is not limited to professional development. One vendor supplying curricular materials to the school system is Discovery Education, which received $2,410,603 in taxpayer money to provide products to the Pentagon.

As OpenTheBooks notes in its report, one Discovery Education “channel” recommended by DoDEA is called “Dissent, Equity, and Inspiring Change.” That particular program 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 report also includes instances of DoDEA teachers explaining how they can promote certain political views within the classroom.

One middle-school teacher said during a presentation called “Enriching Read Aloud and Independent Reading through the Use of Current and Diverse Children’s Literature” that, while she and her colleagues “don’t have a lot of control over texts that are chosen,” they can decide which books are used for “independent reading, book clubs, literature circles,” and the like.

Another middle-school teacher, in a different presentation — this one titled “Ally 101” — described what that influence looks like in action.

“I have a massive classroom library and I have a ton of books that have main characters who are everywhere on the [gender and sexuality] spectrum and off the spectrum,” the teacher said.

DoDEA staffers have recommended books that can be used for that purpose, OpenTheBooks found.

The books include titles like Alice Austen Lived Here, which tells the story of a person named Sam who “is very in touch with their own queer identity” and whose teacher “seems to believe that only Dead Straight Cis White Men are responsible for history; The One True Me and You, in which a girl decides to “try out they/them pronouns to see how it feels; and A Color Named Love, which follows a girl with four polyamorous parents.

The books are recommended for grade levels as young as K-3.

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‘Integrate DEI into Everything We Do’: Pentagon School System Pushes Progressive Ideology on Children of Service Members

While DoDEA officially disbanded its DEI office in 2023, internal documents show that the change was purely ... READ MORE


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