Last October, the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Education voted unanimously to require at least 300 district employees to receive “implicit bias” training. The district will contract with the Orange County Human Relations Council (OCHRC) to provide the training, at a cost of $150,00.
According to the AUHSD’s memorandum of understanding with the OCHRC, 100 administrators and 200 “site team members” will each receive 6 hours of implicit bias training in “cohorts” of 25 people. The training is broken up into weekly 90-minute sessions conducted over four weeks – plus “independent learning modules.” A total of 12 training sessions will be conducted between November 2020 and April 2021.
AUHSD Board members unanimously approved the contract without discussion or comment.
I contacted the district to make a public records request for the materials used in the implicit bias training sessions, which are currently taking place.
District spokesman John Bautista replied:
“After doing some research, the planning meeting/materials are all virtual and owned by the OC Human Relations Council. AUHSD does not hold any materials.”
I responded that since the AUHSD is paying for this training with public funds, it has every right to request those materials from the OC Human Relations Council in order to respond with my public records act request. As of publication time, I have had no further response from the AUHSD.
Bautista’s reply raises another question: did the district even review the OCHRC’s implicit bias training course before awarding the contract?
Bautista’s answer recalled the district’s response to a CPRA request in 2019: the district had singed an MOU with the OC Labor Federation for the latter to provide “civic engagement training” for parents. I requested copies of materials to be used for those training sessions, as well as any communications between the district and the labor council regarding the negotiation of the MOU. I was informed the district had no such materials, and that there had been no electronic communications between the AUSHD and the OCLF during negotiation of the MOU.
Transparency at its finest.
A request for the materials being used in the training was been sent to the OC Human Relations Council today. The story will be updated with their response when it is received.
Implicit Bias Training A Growing Industry
Implicit bias training has grown into a multi-million dollar cottage industry within the human resources field, especially as “diversity and inclusion” departments mushroom in academia and corporate America. The BLM-driven protests and riots of 2020 gave added impetus to subjecting employees to such training in order to root out “unconscious” racial, ethnic and gender biases.
The topic erupted into the news last year when the Trump Administration decreed an end to such training in federal agencies, noting that implicit bias training is an outgrowth of Critical Race Theory and criticizing them as “taxpayer funded indoctrination trainings that sow division and racism.” Critical Race Theory is the idea that our society, law and institution’s are intrinsically racist – specifically racism by whites against everyone else. Indeed, according to CRT, non-whites cannot engage in racism.
One of the Biden Administration’s earliest executive orders rescinded that ban.
Last year, the Garden Grove City Council voted to contract with Shift HR Compliance to conduct implicit bias training for city employees.
As the term implies, “implicit bias” training is predicated on the assumption that people harbor unconscious prejudices and bigotries, and implicit bias training is geared toward rooting it out. That may seem reasonable. But it isn’t that simple.
Consider this video containing a snippet of Shift HR’s unconscious bias training:
In it, a brother and sister meet with a bank officer, seeking a loan to start an internet-based subscription service for single-origin coffee beans. The brother and sister are vaguely ethnic, and the sister is in a wheelchair.
In response to the loan request, the white, blonde and female bank employee responds, “Oh that sounds like an interesting concept! So, Davis, have you had any experience taking out a small business loan before?”
A totally respectfully, reasonable and appropriate question for a prospective borrower, right? Wrong! According to Shift HR, the bank officer’s question is an example of “unconscious bias.”
According to the MOU with the OC Human Relations Council, “the behavior of human beings is often guided by racial and other stereotypes of which we are completely unaware. This training will guide participants through a journey of personal exploration” to unearth the biases and prejudices lurking in the unconscious realm.
This, of course, puts those subjected to such training at a disadvantage. If someone objects that they are not prejudiced, their objection is dismissed as denial – or even prima facie evidence of implicit bias. Implicit bias is the contemporary progressive equivalent of sin – everyone is guilty of it and no one can escape it. Like the Judeo-Christian concept of sin, we must spend our lives striving to expunge it – in this case under the ministrations and “guidance” of the professional implicit bias clerisy. If nothing else, the underlying idea is a recipe to full employment for the bias industry.
I first encountered Critical Race Theory’s re-definition of racism three decades ago as a member of Orange County Together, a community-based task force assembled in the wake of the 1992 L.A. riots, with the idea of formulated recommendations to prevent similar unrest from occurring in OC. It was operated under the auspices of the OC Human Relations Commission (the OC Human Relations Council’s predecessor). At one of the early meetings, we were given a hand-out that defined racism as power-plus-prejudice. When I approached the task force executive director, a progressive minister, about it, he explained that people of color cannot be racist, because they have no power. Only white people can be racist, he continued, because only white people have power.
Are race prejudice and bigotry wrong? Of course. But work place rules govern behavior – how individuals treat one another. Racially bigoted behavior in the workplace should not be tolerated.
But implicit/unconscious bias training intrudes into the privacy of a person’s mind. It not only presumes to know what is in a person’s heart, but to treat and change a person’s thoughts. That is a perilous path for government to tread, and crosses into territory that can be fairly characterized as thought control.
The danger is especially in our current social climate. Cancel culture is running amok. Woke political correctness is rapidly and expansively re-defining what is considered racist or “hate” speech, with chilling results. The rise of comically-mislabeled “antiracist” ideology will bleed into implicit bias training as surely as it is infecting our cultural and educational institutions.
Does It Even Work?
In addition to questions about the legitimacy of public agencies intruding into the thought space of employees, there’s the question of whether implicit bias training even works.
The authors of an August 28, 2020 article in Scientific American argue “We just don’t have the evidence yet that implicit bias training actually works.” While the authors believe implicit bias has negative impacts, yet write:
“Even worse, there is consistent evidence that bias training done the “wrong way” (think lukewarm diversity training) can actually have the opposite impact, inducing anger and frustration among white employees. What this all means is that, despite the widespread calls for implicit bias training, it will likely be ineffective at best; at worst, it’s a poor use of limited resources that could cause more damage and exacerbate the very issues it is trying to solve.”
The Anaheim Union High School District advertises “Kindness Matters” as being central to the district’s culture. Kindness is expressed in action, and based in love. The Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – is a manifestation of kindness, and is a much wiser, more reliable and more effective dictum to govern workplace behavior than intrusive, Orwellian programs like implicit bias training.