published : 2023-10-13

Do Chief Diversity Officers Harm the Students They Aim to Help?

Analysis reveals minority students experience greater learning loss in districts with chief diversity officers

An image of a diverse classroom, with students of different ethnicities engaging in a discussion. This photo prompts us to reflect on the importance of addressing racial achievement gaps in education. [Taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV]

At the height of the pandemic, Congress allocated an additional $190 billion to schools in an effort to prevent academic setbacks for students. Many school districts used this funding to hire chief diversity officers, with the belief that these positions would help close racial achievement gaps and support the needs of minority students.

However, a national analysis of test scores reveals a troubling trend. Rather than mitigating learning loss, chief diversity officers have actually exacerbated the problem, particularly among minority students.

In districts where chief diversity officers were employed, test scores for black and Hispanic students experienced a significant decline compared to their white counterparts. The additional decline in math achievement for these minority students was approximately one-quarter of the overall learning loss during the pandemic.

This data suggests that hiring senior district officials who advocate for different standards of behavior and academic achievement based on structural racism undermines the success of minority students.

A close-up image of a student studying math equations, representing the academic challenges faced by minority students during the pandemic. This prompts us to consider the impact of learning loss on their educational journey. [Taken with Nikon D850]

Surprisingly, the negative impact of chief diversity officers persisted even after statistical adjustments were made for existing racial achievement gaps. In fact, these gaps worsened in districts with diversity officers, further hindering the progress of minority students.

It is concerning to note the rapid increase in the adoption of chief diversity officers across school districts. In 2021, 48% of districts with at least 15,000 students had a chief diversity officer, up from 39% before the influx of federal funds.

This trend is particularly evident in larger districts, where a staggering 89% now employ chief diversity officers. Even smaller districts, with between 15,000 and 20,000 students, have followed suit with 40% adopting such positions.

As chief diversity officers infiltrate educational institutions, their impact on academic achievement remains questionable. Instead, their true focus seems to be promoting ideological orthodoxies surrounding race and gender.

A photo of a school board meeting, showcasing district officials and educators discussing policies. This prompts us to question the effectiveness of hiring chief diversity officers in closing the achievement gaps and improving student outcomes. [Taken with Sony Alpha A7 III]

In addition to exacerbating learning loss among minority students, districts with chief diversity officers are more likely to adopt policies that withhold information from parents regarding their children's gender issues. This includes changes in names, pronouns, and even which bathrooms they use.

While it is unclear whether diversity officers directly influence these policies, the correlation is undeniable. It is evident that districts with these officers prioritize advancing contentious ideological agendas, rather than prioritizing student learning.

With the remaining funds from the $190 billion allocation set to be spent by the end of next year, some district officials are considering another injection of federal funds to rescue schools from a fiscal cliff. However, before burdening taxpayers further, it is crucial for school districts to reevaluate their spending.

The first and most obvious expense to eliminate should be the chief diversity officer position. With the evidence suggesting their detrimental impact on academic achievement and the promotion of ideological agendas, it is clear that this role serves neither the students nor the education system as a whole.