Amid investigation, UT Austin stops then resumes 'anti-racism' pre-K research project
A complaint to the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights made the Texas university halt a research project three of its scholars were conducting.
Recently, the administration let the scholars resume their research on anti-racism education for White preschool-aged children.
Following an investigation that halted an anti-racism study on White preschool-aged children, the University of Texas at Austin has now allowed the researchers at the institution to continue with their project.
The GoKAR! Project is led by Dr. Jessica Toste from the Department of Special Education, Dr. Huriya Jabbar from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, and Dr. Kathrynn Pounders from the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations.
Mark Perry, a University of Michigan-Flint professor and American Enterprise Institute fellow, issued a complaint to the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, claiming the study discriminates against children of color.
The project, according to the researchers, “aim[s] to develop an educational program for caregivers to teach anti-racism at home with preschool age children (4-5 years).”
As a result of Perry's complaint, the university launched its own investigation.
“In consultation with the University of Texas System legal leadership, the university was authorized to lift the pause on delivery of new program materials to new participants," the Nov. 29 announcement from UT News read.
In an email reported by Inside Higher Ed, Wood expressed satisfaction with the study’s initial approval by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Institutional Review Board.
The communication read:
“… some of the public-facing descriptions of GoKAR!, including the title of the project and some of the promotional materials about the work, unintentionally create ambiguity and may have led some to question of whether GoKAR! is a beneficial education program that excludes potentially interested parents and children who do not identify as white, rather than a targeted educational research study.”
The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is still considering Perry’s concerns regarding the discrimination of non-white preschoolers, according to The Texas Tribune.
Campus Reform contacted the three UT Austin professors, the GoKAR! Project, Provost Sharon L. Wood, and the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. This story will be updated accordingly.