Academics claim that ‘whiteness’ is a hindrance to education reform

Two academics recently wrote that "whiteness" has infected the education system.

Among their calls to action is the need for teachers to involve themselves “in the process of challenging whiteness and developing anti-racist cultures.”

One of the academics likewise pointed to “whiteness” in standardized exams.

Two academics are arguing that “whiteness” is inhibiting public education reform.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduate student Nathan Tanner, and University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Anjalé Welton, recently authored a book chapter examining “whiteness in education and how anti-racist preparation could help educational leaders address longstanding inequities.”

[RELATED: Top scientific journal pushes diversity litmus test for would-be authors]

The chapter in the Handbook of Social Justice Interventions in Education argues that “it is essential to build educational leaders’ capacity to resist whiteness and white supremacy in educational institutions and communities.”

“We have a history of the way we implemented education reforms that didn’t think about the roles of whiteness,” Welton elaborated in an interview with Illinois News Bureau — an official outlet of the University of Illinois. “Are we adding a quick fix but not unpacking racist practices and belief systems? There’s no miracle cure or anti-racism snake oil. It’s hard work. We have to think deeply.”

Tanner likewise encourages school leaders to involve themselves “in the process of challenging whiteness and developing anti-racist cultures and staff.”

[RELATED: ‘Anti-racism’ advocates come for the books]

The chapter’s abstract examines “the kinds of structures educational leaders must implement in both higher education and PK-12 schooling contexts... that challenges whiteness” — a process that involves reconsidering the use of standardized tests, as Tanner explained to Illinois News Bureau.

National Association of Scholars Director of Research David Randall told Campus Reform that “every standardized test registers racial disparities in results.”


He noted that “antiracist” researchers “presume that any racial disparity is the result of a racist plot, and that any mode of acquiring information that registers that racial disparity is at best ‘hurtful,’ and thus to be eliminated.”


University of Wisconsin-Madison Director of Media Relations Meredith McGlone explained to Campus Reform that “inspired by a growing body of evidence that racist policies and structures continue to make it difficult for many students to achieve their full potential, Dr. Welton’s work highlights tools educational leaders can use to create more equitable and effective learning environments.”

“The School of Education is aware of these same dynamics and works to address them in our curriculum,” she added.

Members of the professoriate have often claimed that American higher education is irredeemably infused with white supremacy.

In the summer of 2020, for instance, professors took to social media and argued that Western mathematics reinforces white social constructs.

[RELATED: Math education prof: 2+2 = 4 ‘trope’ ‘reeks of white supremacy patriarchy’]

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tanner, and Welton for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft