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From the Cheap Seats: Hiding the Ball

The San Dieguito Union High School District has been a dramatic scene in recent years. Things have been quiet recently, as the board and the public appear to have granted the newly appointed Superintendent Anne Staffieri a honeymoon of sorts since she took office in July.

That quietude may come to an end as the superintendent faces a demanding test of her leadership.

The cause of this potential crisis is an elective course in “Ethnic Literature” offered at Canyon Crest Academy for the next school year, reported to be taught by an English teacher, Milan Perisic.

When the course offering was posted online on the school website, many parents reacted with outrage after seeing that the description and included course materials (Link here: were polluted with the language of critical race theory and intersectionalism. It is much less a literature course and much more a vehicle for indoctrinating student activists.

A genuine ethnic literature course would be a worthy addition to the school curriculum. Many excellent works are available from a diverse range of ethnicities, including American authors and foreign authors whose work has been translated into English. Many books from what some refer to as the BIPOC community have become established in the American literary canon. However, literature is not the focus of the course described. 

As proposed, a mere three weeks of the course are devoted to what might be commonly understood as literature (“Race, Ethnicity, and Identity”). More emphasis is given to “Intersectionality” (four weeks), “Power and Society” (four weeks), “Transformative Resistance” (four weeks), and “Migration, Policy, and the American Dream” (three weeks). Most of the reading material is non-fiction.

The concluding project of the course is a two-week assignment involving “transformative resistance vs. performative allyship,” researching “current projects and local activists,” with students picking “one movement and [creating] an action plan to support that movement,” leading to “a presentation to local school or community group.” 

This is activist recruiting, not the study of literature.

The other objectionable aspect of this offering is the improper approval process. Board Policy 6161.1 requires the review process for instructional materials to “encourage the participation of parents/guardians and community members.” This reflects state law, which mandates the board to “promote the involvement of parents and other members of the community in the selection of instructional materials.” (EDC § 60002).

In this case, the district’s conforming process for adopting materials was circumvented – the public, parents, and the board were kept unaware. Indeed, it was apparent during the board discussion of the course (April 20, 2023, at 3:17:30) that Associate Superintendent Bryan Marcus was reluctant to reveal the required information. Shockingly, that position was reinforced by Board President Rimga Viskanta when trustees Phan Anderson and Michael Allman asked for more transparency.

Now that we can see the full description of the course, it is fair to conclude that the secrecy and abuse of the process surrounding its adoption were deliberate.

Associate Superintendent Marcus did not conform to the required procedure, did not show that the district had established a need for the course, did not reveal the record of the pilot adoption, did not disclose the extent of enrollment in the pilot, did not reveal the required evaluation of the course effectiveness, identified no resulting revisions, did not disclose course materials to the public or even the Parent Curricular Advisory Committee, did not disclose any final report from the Instructional Material Review Committee, and did not show whether there was any substantial revision to the piloted course, which must be re-submitted for approval.

Marcus midwifed a stinker of a course and slipped it by the board by hiding the ball.

This malfeasance potentially exposes the district to legal action and should be condemned by the board.

None of this happened on Superintendent Staffieri’s watch, but she now must clean up the mess and restore confidence in the course development and approval process. An independent investigation is warranted, with the players identified and held accountable so that this misconduct is not repeated. The board needs to recognize its failure in the process — they got played by Marcus because they didn’t demand a review of the pilot approval and implementation record.


steve333 March 7, 2024 at 3:28 pm

To get ahead an education is key, but here we have DEI/Equity Groups actually cancelling AP and Advanced Classes because not enough ‘minorities’ are qualifying.
Therefore, instead of pushing students to succeed they dumb down the curriculum for everyone else.
This is one major reason why Asians oppose these programs, it actually discriminates against students who work the hardest to succeed.
This is the opposite of what this country is about and what made us great.
DEI and Equity also teach a perverted view of history in the lens of White Supremacy and Colonialism being a European construct while colonialism existed in almost all cultures, Europeans being among the last to use it.
The result is a student population indoctrinated with hatred for country, The West, Jews, Asians, Christians, and everything that made this country successful.
It is in invasion of leftwing extremists that was allowed to occur under our noses and it needs to be erased from education, government and business.IMO.

Bhavani Kirnak March 7, 2024 at 2:35 pm

Great article. Schools are no place for this type of indoctrination.

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