Race Profiteers in San Marcos CISD

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Famed civil rights icon Booker T. Washington once observed that “…there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.”

Unfortunately for society, Washington’s diagnosis proved correct—and remains true even now.

Today, race profiteers zealously stir unrest and inflame tensions. Their goal is not public reconciliation but personal gain. And they are busy, even in Texas.

Late last year, San Marcos CISD (SMCISD), a mid-sized school district south of Austin, decided to undergo a third-party equity audit to survey attendance, discipline, and the racial climate in some of its schools. To conduct the audit, the district plopped down more than $50,000 to hire the Tracey A. Benson Consulting firm—a tricky business as we’ll see.

The Benson firm last week provided the SMCISD board with some of its early findings.

In its presentation, the firm’s equity auditors warned that “there are incidents of racism occurring in the school district and they’re not being reported.” As evidence, they pointed to a questionnaire, admittedly hobbled by “low response rates,” that found, in part, some students had heard other students “use a racial put-downs [sic] or name.

To get at the problem, or at least the perception of one, it was recommended that trustees adopt a series of reforms, including one to: “Enroll every school leader as well as designated district leaders in the Anti-Racist Leadership Institute™ to increase their racial literacy, confidence, and ability to successfully navigate and combat racism in San Marcos CISD.” Such an endeavor would be no small commitment either, requiring participants to complete “a 40-hour anti-racist master class in addition to 12 weeks of ongoing coaching…

But while the auditors made their sales pitch well, they left out one key detail.

Not mentioned in the materials is the fact that the Tracey A. Benson Consulting firm runs the Anti-Racist Leadership Institute. In other words, the group hired to investigate racism found it rampant and recommended itself as the solution. All at taxpayer expense, of course.

The obvious grift is troubling in at least a few ways. First, it diverts money away from the classroom under the guise of fighting racism. Second, it proposes to burden taxpayers with another expense at a time when San Marcos residents—the majority of whom are minorities themselves—are struggling to make ends meet. Third, and perhaps worst of all, it gives the district cover to continue in its mediocrity.

See, SMCISD, a district whose student population is mostly Hispanic, has consistently underperformed expectations, despite it spending more than $10,000 per student. In fact, its most recent A – F accountability ranking rates it as a middling district struggling to shine in areas like STAAR performance, academic growth, graduation rate, and more.

The Benson firm’s self-seeking report gives trustees an out. An excuse to ignore the district’s failings. After all, it’s not SMCISD’s fault that students are performing poorly, it’s a consequence of widespread racism, they’ll say. And that type of thinking helps no one—except the consultants

If trustees really want to help San Marcos students succeed, then they should start by rejecting the Benson firm’s blatant money-grab and let it be known that race profiteers are not welcome. Nor is their divisive agenda. Then the district should redouble its efforts to teaching the basics. Reading, writing, and math.

This class of race-problem solver deserves to be exposed at every turn. They bring nothing but trouble to everything they touch. And they only do so for personal gain.