Hermosa Beach is a small beachside community in the South Bay section of Los Angeles County. It is one of the wealthiest school districts in the state of California. For years, the students have consistently earned some of the highest test scores, and parents have been more than happy to raise taxes when state lawmakers cut funding to school districts during hard economic times.
The Hermosa Beach school district seemed like a ripe target for the radical left’s latest propaganda: Critical Race Theory. The elected school officials consider themselves “modern” and “progressive” and were becoming increasingly “woke” – and the community trusted them. When the teachers’ union and others pushed this “new important” program, the school officials didn’t want to be left behind.
Things began gearing up last September. The School Board passed a District Equity Resolution. This was clearly put together for them by an outside entity from a sophisticated template.
The resolution includes a long-winded declaration that there is “institutional and structural racism and injustice” in society at large and in their own community. This includes every person in the school district and their staff – and it’s “affecting student achievement.” (It also lists “gender, gender identity, sexual orientation” among the “biases in our own school district” that must be cleansed.)
The resolution then calls for the creation of an Equity Task Force to investigate the district’s racism and injustice further, then create an Equity Agenda for fixing it with “Measurable Targets….”
The Equity Task Force was implemented very quickly. The organizers included a wide range of people from the community: school staff, parents, students, administrators, School Board members, and others. This was to give it the aura of a broad-based consensus and input….
A group of Hermosa Beach parents who monitor and discuss local politics in a social media group became alarmed and began following this development. The group shared clips of School Board and Task Force meetings and other material.
In January 2021, the MassResistance Organization Director, Arthur Schaper (who lives in nearby Torrance), got involved.
Schaper encouraged parents to file FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, to get parents to confront the School Board, and to expose to the community what is going on….
Parents started speaking up at the School Board meetings, held remotely via Zoom. Actual public testimony was replaced by emailing the Board, and the Superintendent would read the emails aloud during the meeting. Other parents contacted the Board members directly with their expressions of outrage. At first, just a few got involved, but the number steadily grew as parents lost their fear and reticence.
Then, the April 13 Equity Task Force meeting included a presentation from a consultant whom the Task Force was hiring, Dr. Sheri Atwater. She is a psychologist and specialist in “diversity, inclusion, and equity,” and was being hired to design the training sessions for students in classrooms and also school staff. The meeting was via Zoom and made accessible to the public.
Atwater talked about white privilege, identity, and white supremacy, and how important it was to deal with those issues, even in elementary school. “This is the time to build into the curriculum the implicit biases that we all have,” she told the Board….
One of the parents made a video of Atwater’s remarks and posted it on YouTube.
The video alarmed parents across the city of Hermosa Beach. At the May 12 School Board meeting, parents flooded the Board with angry emails, which the Superintendent read aloud. Parents were livid about Critical Race Theory being taught to children, and especially Atwater’s offensive teaching methods. Coincidentally, Atwater was also there to give a presentation to the Board.
The Board members called the parents “fearful.” “I encourage the community to come together on this, so they’ll become more comfortable,” one Board member said.
To try and mitigate the situation, the Superintendent sent a letter to all the school district parents:
“During the May 12 Board meeting, some Hermosa Beach residents and parents raised concern over the school district hiring a consultant, Dr. Sheri Atwater … Our goal as educators, and I believe as a school community, is to ensure that school is a place where opportunities are available for all students, regardless of label … Dr. Atwater is working with staff to support our goal to meet the needs of all students.”
Over the next few weeks, the parents’ video of Atwater went viral.
On May 17, The College Fix did an article exposing it. Then on May 21, Laura Ingraham did a commentary on it during her national Fox News TV show.
The following day, the Daily Mail out of the United Kingdom did an article on Ingraham’s coverage.
On May 27 the Superintendent sent out this email:
“As I shared last week, the Board of Education received public comment that raised concern over the school district hiring a consultant, Dr. Sheri Atwater. Dr. Atwater was hired to facilitate staff discussions and professional development around HBCSD’s emphasis on equity and inclusion.
“Unfortunately, a national cable news outlet and other online media continued to broadcast a short video clip of Dr. Atwater speaking in an Equity Task Force meeting, the video purposely edited to misconstrue her message and meaning in a long, thoughtful conversation. This misinformation attracted national debate and because of it, Dr. Atwater has experienced concerns for her safety and well-being, also affecting her core professional responsibilities as a professor with Loyola Marymount University. As a consequence, she has decided to not move forward as an external consultant for HBCSD.”
The above comes from a June 18 story on the site of MassResistance.org.
Read May 20 Cal Catholic story on choosing of Atwater.
From a commenter on that May 20 story:
“I reviewed the bios of the faculty assigned to the School of Education at LMU. The majority attended private universities for most of their post high school education, including the achievement of the doctorate degree. Many of the faculty have not taught in a public school setting for years. Their credibility with respect to what should be taught in the classroom setting is minimal. Also, does LMU abide by the same policies that Dr. Atwater is encouraging the school district to adopt?”