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EXCLUSIVE: Pentagon Schools Encouraged Students To Be Left-Wing Activists, Pushed DEI On Kids And Teachers, Docs Show

According to a new Open the Books report shared exclusively with the Daily Caller News Foundation, teachers at the Pentagon School pushed materials that trained students as social justice activists and pushed diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) among teachers.

According to the Open the Books report, Department of Defense Education Activities (DODEA) schools, which educate the children of military personnel stationed overseas, promoted materials created by center-left organizations, encouraged students to participate in activities, and pressured teachers to have conversations among themselves about “internalized racism.” To compile the report, Open the Books compiled information from public government repositories, documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, and video clips submitted by whistleblowers from DODEA's 2021 Equity and Access Summit.

“These service members are deployed overseas to defend and embody American ideals on the world stage,” Open the Books CEO Adam Andrzejewski told DCNF, “But their children are being indoctrinated with a philosophy that prioritizes complex racial and gender identities over national pride. In fact, pushing students to become activists and teaching them that their relative privilege determines their life experiences could be holding them back from the American Dream.” (Related: Jim Banks proposes bill to impose higher standards on Defense Department-run schools)

Several DODEA officials who spoke at the Equality and Access Summit said that materials produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a left-of-center legal nonprofit that equates some mainline Christian organizations with domestic terrorists like the Ku Klux Klan through its annual list of hate groups, are used in teacher training and classes.

According to the report, one DODEA middle school teacher, in a presentation titled “Integrating Global Citizenship Education and Social Justice Standards,” said SPLC's “Learning for Justice” resources align with DODEA's approach to teaching history and social studies to students.

“I have personally completed many of these lessons,” the teacher said.

Many of the classes offered by SPLC encourage students to get involved in community activities and often have a liberal bent. One lesson plan teaches third, fourth, or fifth graders: Assigned a task The goal is to create “large-scale artistic depictions in community spaces” and “a set of informational posters reflecting diversity topics and social justice themes.”

Students are also encouraged to directly pressure business and political stakeholders in SPLC classes. push Students write letters to community leaders, urging them to take “action on social justice issues.” SPLC classes also extend to digital activism. In one class, students Facilitate A live social media event to “raise awareness of anti-bias themes and social justice issues and encourage change related to these issues.”

Another DODEA official, this time a physical education specialist, gave a similar presentation and said the SPLC's “social justice standards” were largely consistent with the educational standards of DOD-run schools.

“in [the National Health Education Standards] “We teach our students to advocate for the health of individuals, families and communities,” the athletic staff said, “and one of our social justice standards teaches students that 'it's important to stand up for yourself and others'…So even though the language of advocacy is different and the words for 'standing up' are different, the outcome is the same…And it's those connections that we need to make or help our students make.”

SPLC Social Justice Standards It encourages students to understand the history of social justice movements, believe in systemic discrimination, and “plan and implement collective action to counter prejudice and injustice in the world and evaluate which strategies are most effective.”

“Parents and taxpayers have a right to know what materials are being used in these and other situations, but unfortunately much of it comes from private vendors that are not covered by Freedom of Information Act,” Andrzejewski told DCNF. “In the case of the Southern Poverty Law Center, outside groups couldn't be more radical.”

S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin (Photo by Omar Habana/Getty Images)

In addition to paying for teachers to teach military children about liberal causes, taxpayers must also fund contracts with third-party organizations that do similar work. Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a tutoring company that Open The Books describes as a big part of student life in DODEA schools, is one of the third-party contractors DODEA has paid about $2 million for its services between 2019 and 2023, according to the report.

AVID instructors discussed how they incorporate discussions of power and privilege into their classes at the Equality and Access Summit. The company itself has expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and called on DODEA teachers to “Let's talk!The SPLC has created an “Intersectionality” handbook to help teachers address issues like intersectionality and gender identity in the classroom.

The Pentagon schools are also eager to engage teachers in group discussions about internalized racism and how to better embed racial equity in their work, through what Open the Books calls “struggle sessions.”

For example, DODEA encourages employees to adopt strategies to talk about “systems of race, power, and oppression” in ways that lead to changes in educational behavior, as outlined in the book “Coaching for Equity,” according to documents obtained by Open The Books. “Coaching for Equity” argues that America was founded on “stolen land,” while criticizing capitalism, Thanksgiving, and “patriarchy,” according to the report. The book also encourages readers to read works such as “The 1619 Project” and “White Fragility.”

According to the report, DODEA teachers are required to follow a professional development framework published by the education nonprofit Learning Forward. Equity is a central focus of the framework, which requires teachers to “discuss instances of privilege and bias in their everyday experiences and clearly articulate their own assumptions about key concepts like equality and fairness” in order to reframe workplace norms.

Military families recently won a victory for transparency in education. Fixes The 2024 National Defense Authorization Act included a provision giving parents the right to inspect the curriculum and other materials used in schools run by the Department of Defense. But unlike the State Department, the Department of Defense doesn't provide benefits to parents who want to enroll their children in private schools, leaving military parents with limited options if they don't like what they see, the report said.

“Given what I've heard from teachers and administrators, and the apparent intent to hide this DEI content, I don't believe the current protections are sufficient,” Andrzejewski told DCNF. “DODEA staff could easily withhold all of the controversial teacher training materials because they weren't actually distributed in classrooms,” he continued, pointing out what he called a “loophole” that Congress should consider closing when drafting the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act.

The Department of Defense did not respond to DCNF's request for comment.

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