Posted on July 22, 2021

Culture Warrior

Max Eden, City Journal, July 20, 2021

Last week, the Senate education committee held a confirmation hearing for a woman who has arguably done more than any other government official to fan the flames of America’s culture war: Catherine Lhamon.

President Biden has nominated Lhamon to return for a second stint as assistant secretary in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). During her previous term under President Obama, Lhamon transformed that office from a guarantor of statutorily defined rights into a forward operating base for coercing compliance with liberal social dogma on matters ranging from allegations of sexual assault to school discipline to transgender issues.


{snip} Under her leadership, civil rights investigations became tools of harassment to coerce changes in school policies. These deeply invasive investigations would end only when school districts agreed to adopt lenient discipline policies, notwithstanding evidence that these policies were destabilizing classrooms and leading to increased school violence.

After leaving OCR, Lhamon was appointed to lead the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, where she oversaw a report on disciplinary disparities, Beyond Suspensions. The report concluded that, despite substantial disparities by race in school suspensions, “students of color as a whole, as well as by individual racial group, do not commit more disciplinable offenses than their white peers.” The Washington Post pointed out that the report’s citations “did not offer such evidence. One set of data referenced in the report showed the opposite.” {snip}


Earlier this year, Biden’s OCR suspended a decision that the Evanston/Skokie School District violated Title VI’s prohibition on racial discrimination when it segregated staff by race, instructed teachers to treat students differently based on race, publicly shamed white students based on their race, and taught that “whiteness” was a contract with the devil. The action sent a clear signal that OCR did not intend to enforce anti-discrimination law to protect white students or teachers.

{snip} In her previous term at OCR, Lhamon’s modus operandi was to fabricate new interpretations of what civil rights law requires, then tell educational institutions that they could lose federal funding unless they “voluntarily” agreed to adhere to these dictates. No one should be surprised if Lhamon actually enforces critical race theory—by coercing school districts into “voluntary” resolution agreements that require “anti-racist audits,” mandate race-focused professional development for teachers, or require the hiring of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” consultants or staff.