By Max Eden | AMAC Outside Contributor

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Three years ago, Republicans were reluctant to take direct aim at diversity, equity, and inclusion. It just sounded too nice to oppose. Better, political strategists thought, to go after the toxic concepts and practices by a different name: critical race theory.

After years of public debate and controversy, a substantial share of the public understands the core ideas, be they labeled CRT, promoted as “social justice,” or implemented as DEI. And as policymakers ponder how to root out this ideology from higher education, it is important that they also revisit K-12 education for places where their policies failed to bear fruit because they didn’t use quite the right words.

A few weeks before American universities’ morally demented reaction to the Hamas attack against Israel helped to solidify citizens’ understanding of the true meaning of DEI, USA Today ran an article claiming that K-12 public schools spend about $20 billion per year on DEI training. Of the 45 major school districts they examined, seven came from Florida. Tampa, for example, spends $36 million per year on DEI training for its teachers.

The most popular DEI training, according to USA Today, is Glenn Singleton’s “Courageous Conversations,” which explicitly peddles critical race theory. Rounding out the top five is “UnboundEd,” which explicitly teaches anti-white racism (insisting that there’s no such thing as a good white person).

But wait — isn’t that against the law in Florida? Possibly, but Florida’s anti-CRT law, as with virtually every anti-CRT law, wasn’t clear enough in its language or savvy enough in its structure to accomplish the goal that many of its supporters hoped that it would. The official materials used by the state of Florida to promote the Stop WOKE Act claimed it “prohibits school districts, colleges, and universities from hiring woke CRT consultants.” But it clearly didn’t.

That’s because Florida’s Stop WOKE Act listed a series of concepts that “woke CRT consultants” may not explicitly endorse. But what if, instead of self-declaring as “woke CRT consultants,” they call themselves “DEI consultants”? What if they promote those concepts through slightly different words? Or, what if they promote those concepts directly with the backing of local officials who want to spend tens of millions of dollars on left-wing indoctrination instead of, you know, tutoring or teacher pay?

This is why the budding effort to dismantle DEI bureaucracies in higher education should be accompanied by an effort to defund DEI consultants in K-12 education directly.

There are two key elements to an effective strategy for the latter. The first, which was unthinkable three years ago but is becoming more common in legislative language, is to name DEI directly to send an unambiguous signal to local school administrators. The second, which has not yet been attempted, is to task state superintendents with creating lists of vendors that are ineligible to receive state funding.

This second step is key. Simple statutory language is inadequate to defund the constant linguistic churn of CRT/DEI/”woke” consultants effectively; there must be an element of executive discretion. A state secretary of education should be charged with creating and annually updating a list of vendors that the state will not permit its money to flow to. “Courageous Conversations” obviously belongs on that list, as does “UnboundEd.” But so, too, would “Brave Talks” or “Boundless Ed,” if either of those two companies decide to form spinoffs to try to get around the law.

In late January of 2024, Florida issued its final regulations to dismantle DEI in its higher education system. Education Commissioner Manny Diaz should explore whether the law gives him the flexibility to issue a regulation specifying “woke” K-12 consultants that are ineligible for state funding. If not, it should be an easy fix for the legislature to do so.

Defunding DEI consultants won’t, of course, fix the culture of American education overnight. But with so many problems facing this generation of students, not spending $20 billion dollars on divisive indoctrination consultants would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Reprinted with permission from AEI by Max Eden.

This article was originally posted on and can be viewed here.

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