The Lucrative Business of Woke Education

A top diversity consultancy has ties to every level of the private school accreditation process, a Washington Free Beacon analysis found, creating a lucrative diet of contracts and jobs for its employees.

The Glasgow Group, whose founder Rodney Glasgow recently likened critics of “diversity work” to the Capitol rioters, consists entirely of consultants with posts at the National Association of Independent Schools and its “approved accreditors.” The association requires those accreditors to enforce social justice ideology in private schools, where members of the Glasgow Group double as full-time employees, giving the 12-person firm a say in the education of hundreds of thousands of students. As their education has been shaped by the Glasgow Group’s consultants, diversity professionals have procured more and more power—and more and more money.

Much of that money comes from the “equity audits” that schools purchase to demonstrate their compliance with accreditation standards. The audits ask schools how they are promoting social justice in the classroom and encourage them to build out their “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) bureaucracy, no matter how large it may already be. Los Angeles’s prestigious Harvard-Westlake school, for example, employed five diversity administrators as of this January, when it brought in the Glasgow Group for an audit. Following its completion, the school hired a sixth.

The growth of DEI bureaucracy has alienated parents, who say their kids’ schools have become obsessed with racial identity. That pushback has made headlines—the New York Times covered uproars at Brearley, Dalton, and Grace Episcopal—but relatively little headway. The nation’s top private schools have all gone “woke” simultaneously, transformed by a race-conscious pedagogy. Families who seek an escape hatch often can’t find one, several parents told the Free Beacon last month, because all the best schools are beholden to the same accreditors and use the same consultants.

In some cases, they even employ the same administrators. The Glasgow Group’s consultants tend to cycle through a small set of schools in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, funneling their colleagues into whatever post they just left. At St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland, for example, the past two directors of diversity were both members of the Glasgow Group. Having molded an entire school system in their image, DEI practitioners can move freely within it, profiting at every step of the journey.

The Glasgow Group, which did not respond to a request for comment, shows just how powerful this nepotism can be.

Each of the group’s 12 consultants has ties to the National Association for Independent Schools’ various diversity conferences, which set the tone for DEI programming in private schools. Eleven are faculty members of the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, chaired by Glasgow since 2004. Three have presented at the People of Color Conference, which Glasgow helped organize for over a decade. The events bring thousands of students and administrators together from the nation’s top independent schools, including those who set and enforce accreditation standards.

These conferences have enshrined racial sectarianism at the highest level of private school governance. One presentation, delivered by the Glasgow Group’s Yvonne Adams and Toni-Graves Williamson, was titled “Black Girl Magic: Working with White Women.” The powerpoint slides quote Robin DiAngelo on “White women’s tears” and end by advertising the Glasgow Group’s services.

Race-based affinity groups are a staple of such conferences. Among the 10 that will be featured at the 2021 People of Color conference are “Latinx,” “Transracially Adopted,” and “White, European Awareness & Accountability.”

This sort of racialism tends to trickle down to the regional accrediting bodies, which are themselves populated by members of the Glasgow Group. John Gentile, whom the group advertises as a specialist in “white identity development,” sits on the diversity committee of the New York State Association of Independent Schools, the accrediting body for New York’s most elite prep schools. Two of them, Horace Mann and Calhoun, have employed Gentile as their chief diversity officer.

Other accrediting bodies are represented on the Glasgow Group’s advisory board, the webpage for which was made private after the Free Beacon purchased a webinar from the consultancy. Three members of the board—Jalene Spain Thomas, Bart Griffith, and Antonio Viva—have ties to the association’s approved accreditors in Virginia, Maryland, and New England respectively, states that require schools to promote DEI.

These ties mean that the Glasgow Group is effectively creating demand for its own services. Its consultants are part of the accreditation regime that mandates diversity, equity, and inclusion in private schools—and who better to navigate those mandates than the people who helped craft them? When schools hire the Glasgow Group, they aren’t just paying for diversity audits or “antiracist” training; they’re also paying for an insider’s perspective.

Compounding the demand for DEI is the sense of grievance the consultants promote. After students at elite private schools began airing anonymous accusations of racism on social media, the Glasgow Group put out a guide for how to handle the posts.  Even “if your school is NOT experiencing social media posts,” the guidelines read, it should nonetheless “send out a letter … acknowledging that other schools have received such posts, that your school is not exempt from the experiences outlined in those posts, and inviting alums as well as current students and families to share their stories proactively.” Any solicited stories would reinforce the premise of pervasive racism, justifying continued investment in the consultancy.

The more private schools embrace DEI, the more jobs there are for DEI practitioners at private schools. That has given members of the Glasgow Group a steady source of employment beyond consulting work: Each consultant is also a full-time private school administrator, in some cases at the very schools that are hiring the consultancy. Yvonne Adams, for example, is the director of Equity and Inclusion at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, which in 2019 brought in the Glasgow Group for a diversity audit.

This dual employment appears to have created a kind of patronage network around the consultancy, whose members often take jobs at their colleagues’ current or former schools. After Glasgow left his post as director of Diversity and Community at Worcester Academy in 2012, the school hired the Glasgow Group’s Diane Nichols as its director of Diversity and Student Leadership. Glasgow would go on to serve as St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s chief diversity officer until 2020, when he was succeeded by the Glasgow Group’s Lorraine Martinez Hanley. She in turn had been the director of diversity at Indian Creek School from 2003 to 2017, during which time Indian Creek hired another Glasgow Group consultant, Jamor Gaffney, as a history teacher and diversity practitioner. And in the last year Rohan Arjun served as an admissions officer at St. Mark’s School, Loris Adams became the school’s director of Community and Equity Affairs.

All told, half the consultants have at least one point of institutional overlap outside the consultancy.

Glasgow’s march through the institutions hasn’t just given his colleagues jobs; it’s also given him a potent source of recruits. Gentile, the consultant who specializes in white identity, first met Glasgow as a high school student at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), which Glasgow cochaired.

“Now I have been on the SDLC faculty for the past 11 years,” Gentile told Horace Mann’s student newspaper in 2019. After his own students heard Glasgow speak at the conference, Gentile invited his boss and former mentor to the tony New York school for a diversity assembly.

“I’m here for the revolution,” Glasgow told the audience. He received a standing ovation.

This is how woke bureaucracy reproduces itself in America’s private schools. Consultants infiltrate the institutions that determine what students learn and from whom they learn it. Having been shaped by those institutions, students come to admire the consultants—and some may even join them.

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