Bibb school administrators getting diversity training

Bibb County school administrators will undergo mandatory diversity training at the end of the month.

School officials have said training from the Pacific Educational Group will address issues crucial to helping close Bibb’s achievement gap between white and Asian students and black and Latino students. Critics, however, contend that the instruction is divisive and will cost the system too much money.

Principals, assistant principals, directors, coordinators and district-level department heads will attend all-day training July 26 and 27, hosted by two PEG consultants, according to a statement from Donald Porter, a spokesman for the school system. The training will cost about $19,000.

Glenn Singleton founded PEG in San Francisco in 1992 to provide educational support for families. Later, the company added to its mission “addressing systemic issues of educational inequity” by helping school systems meet the needs of “underserved students of color populations.”

Singleton co-authored “Courageous Conversations About Race” with Curtis Linton in 2006, which Singleton said provided a blueprint for people to identify racism -- and overcome it.

Singleton told The Telegraph in March that the training is aimed at making participants examine racism that might exist -- even if it is unintentional. A teacher’s cultural reference points may not always resonate with students of different backgrounds, he said.

The Bibb County school system’s Macon Miracle school improvement plan outlines training by the Pacific Education Group as a way to boost achievement among “historically underachieving student populations.”

Superintendent Romain Dallemand, who worked with Singleton in Hartford, Conn., and Rochester, Minn., previously said the issues brought up in PEG’s training need to be addressed in order to close Bibb’s achievement gap.

“The Strategic Plan outlines ongoing, periodic diversity training sessions as one of many approaches that are designed to build strength of character in our students and help develop graduates who are college-ready,” Porter wrote in an e-mail Thursday.

Critics have said the training attacks white teachers, and they have also raised issues about costs of the training to the system.

Andy Wilson, who has three daughters in the school system, said there is data that contradicts Singleton’s claims, and the Bibb school district should not be spending the money while it is taking about $8 million from its reserves to balance its budget.

“This is a time to cut, not to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants. It’s a terrible decision, Wilson said.

The two-day training, which will take place at the Goodwill Anderson Conference Center, will cost the system $18,700 and includes consultant travel, according to Porter.

To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.