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Caldara: Boulder school district shows ‘tolerance’ by shunning intellectual diversity

To witness a true lack of diversity, look no further than the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD). Last Tuesday the school board voted to reject a charter school application that would bring just a little educational diversity.

Identity politics version of diversity

Now to set the scene, remember Boulder schools are adorned with “Celebrate Diversity” posters. The entrance to the BVSD building, where the board itself meets, sports a sign that says “welcome” in a dozen languages. And in this temple of acceptance, they torpedoed Ascent Classical Academy for daring to be a little different.

Ascent merely wanted to do what Jared Polis did when he replicated his successful charter schools. The school they’ve been working so hard to build in Boulder would be modeled after their highly effective Golden View Classical Academy in Jefferson County, which has a waiting list about equal to its current enrollment.

Focusing on a “classical” education, Ascent promotes a traditional liberal education, diving deeply into classic literature and focusing on core skills. The horror — they wear uniforms and read Chaucer.

The education establishment fears schools like these will shine a light on the failures of public education, so they work to stop them. And because school boards are largely elected due to the work and money of teachers’ unions, they fight approving charters, especially those that have a scent of a rigorous traditional curriculum.

But school boards need something to scapegoat their rejection of philosophical diversity. They often turn to the theater of political identity for cover.

Ascent has a strict non-discrimination policy. Fortunately for BVSD, the National Education Association — which hates charters and competition — helps fund the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Purely coincidence then that the local NAACP chapter came out to protest Ascent’s charter application.

The theatrics were what you’d expect. Ascent’s application was rejected because of trumped-up charges that their non-discrimination policy didn’t cover enough boxes, and of course, BVSD didn’t like how they’d govern their own school.

The diversity police simply don’t want intellectual diversity in Boulder. It would have been more respectful if they just admitted it instead of hiding behind identity politics.

We live in a sterilizing age of identity politics fueled by social justice. Bigotry is separating us more so than at any time in my life.

Although on the surface the progressive movement touts its goal as equality, its strategy is to slice us up into smaller and smaller boxes based on our skin tones, genitals, underwear choices and what we do while naked. This is how we are to be identified.

We are reduced to these base, simplistic and inconsequential components. It is wholly insulting and degrading. It’s sad.

Progressives define diversity via these silly boxes. And to celebrate diversity is to celebrate these meaningless differences.

And the more we do that, the less we recognize what real diversity has to offer us — challenging our values; thoughts and ideas; and exposing us to new concepts.

Real diversity also comes from different ways of thinking. But the left is hostile to intellectual diversity. Blind to it.

Examples pop up everywhere. I just heard one of National Public Radio’s patented editorials disguised as a news feature, “The push to break up the boy’s club at the Fed.” The piece detailed the horrors of a Federal Reserve Board overwhelming made up of men and celebrated the courageous women working to change that. The Fed needs more people from the vagina box — to NPR that is diversity.

Nowhere in this self-righteous piece was there mention of philosophical diversity, only diversity of reproductive organs. So, would more women on the Fed mean a shift to Keynesian monetary policy? Would more blacks tighten the money supply? Would more transsexual left-handed Muslims on the Fed fight inflation?

If public radio had any intellectual diversity in its own newsrooms maybe one, just one reporter in the staff meeting would have raised her hand to ask, “So if we are successful in getting more women on the Fed, that will change interest rates in what direction exactly?” Or, “So if half the guys on the Fed tomorrow changed their sexual identity to female, problem solved?”

We will never get intellectual diversity in the media unless we get it in education.

Maybe the next charter applicants will have the diversity school boards like BVSD are comfortable with, you know, from people who think just like them.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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