The United States military has long been politicized, from imposing mandatory gender training to hosting drag shows, and having a Chief of Staffs defend Critical Race Theory. In a recent report investigated by “Open the Books,” American Pigeon learned that the children of service members are being exposed to the radical ideology of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” with books featuring a broad range of these topics available in their libraries, including What Does It Mean to Defund the Police?
K-12 military schools attended by over 60,000 children of service members are run by an agency called the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). The schools are funded by taxpayer dollars totaling a budget of $3.1 billion.
Today, “every aspect” of the DoDEA “from the curriculum and assessment to hiring and professional development” is entirely overseen by the Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), a new position within the agency. In December 2021, DoDEA Director Thomas Brady announced that DEI specialist Kelisa Wing will be promoted to Chief of DEI.
In a press release, Wing, a U.S. Army veteran, was described as playing a key role in her efforts involving diversity, equity and inclusion in schools.
“Kelisa Wing is the exactly the right person to lead our efforts in building on the foundational work done to support meaningful change in our organization,” said DoDEA Director Brady. “This new position will take a holistic approach to identifying and improving how we integrate the practice of diversity, equity and inclusion in every aspect of DoDEA, from curriculum and assessment to hiring and professional development.”
Wing’s employment is now under review by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness after her previous Twitter posts disparaging white people came to light. Wing, who reportedly described herself as a “woke administrator” said that she was “exhausted at these white folx in [professional development] sessions.”
Despite this, a spokesperson at the DoD, Commander Nicole Schwegman, made it clear that DEI was an important part of the education system.
“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts in…[DoDEA] are an important part of building and sustaining an organizational culture where all students, educators, and staff are valued and respected,” Schwegman said. “Our focus remains on ensuring military-connected students, their families, and our employees have equitable access to opportunities and resources that support student achievement and readiness for college and careers.”
During a presentation in 2020, Wing told educators, “It is your personal decision to show up and be a person who’s going to interrupt this White dominant culture that our education systems have been built upon.”
But the tweets are just the tip of the iceberg, according to Open the Books, writing that “Wing may have used taxpayer-funded platforms to promote her private enterprises and radical ideologies…[and] may have leveraged her government position to promote herself and her private enterprises.”
DoDEA has rules governing conflicts of interests and standards of conduct, prohibiting employees from using their title when endorsing a “product, service, or enterprise, except as provided by statute or regulation.” When speaking at a non-DoDEA event, they must use a disclaimer when using their title.
“DoDEA communication channels must also only be used for official purposes or purposes authorized by a supervisor,” according to Open the Books. “DoDEA employees may not do government work on matters that will affect the financial interests of any organization of which they are an employee or officer.”
The appearance of wrongdoing may also result in disciplinary or corrective action, according to the DoDEA website.
Using Taxpayer Funded Platforms
An investigation conducted by Open The Books shows that Kelisa Wing has many private interests that may conflict with her employment at the DoDEA, with blurring lines “between her government work, her private enterprises and radical ideologies.”
Wing, who has been employed at the DoDEA for ten years has frequently promoted her books, private website, and Twitter handle. Speaking at the DoDEA “Equity and Access Summit” in May 2021, she said,
“I am a writer, an advocate, and an activist, my passion work is dismantling disparate discipline systems, and I am hugely passionate about dismantling the school to prison pipeline, I have written a book [called] Promises and Possibilities Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline—shameless plug.”
In a 2020 collection of teacher stories, A Sacred Space: 12 Teacher Experts Share Stories of Resilience, Success, and Leadership, Wing bragged about using her influence to “dismantle disparate systems.”
“As a teacher leader, I have leveraged my influence to be a voice for the voiceless. I speak nationally and internationally at conferences about the power that relationships can have in dismantling disparate systems. I tell the stories of my students and colleagues to audiences in the hope that learning about them will somehow help our world to be a better place. I also leverage my influence to create equitable learning opportunities for all students.”
Wing has authored or co-authored 21 books, with a couple more in the works. Three books in her 18-part “Racial Justice in America” short-graphic series, which are meant for children ages 10-13 include, “What is White Privilege?” “What is the Black Lives Matter Movement?” and “What Does It Mean to Defund the Police?”
“In What Does It Mean to Defund the Police? kids are told to ‘Do the work!’ and asked the ‘essential question’ of ‘how can we be anti-racist?’ The book goes on to describe some homework kids can do at school, saying ‘becoming anti-racist requests actively working against racism using words and actions. This project-based learning assignment will allow you to practice these skills.'”
Wing has also used taxpayer funded platforms to encouraging an “educational revolution.”
“I am anti-racist, that means I am actively taking a stand to completely tear down, uproot, rebuild, and create something new, and that’s exactly what we need to do in education,” she said during the Albany State University “A Sacred Space” panel discussion in September 2020. “I know that sounds really revolutionary and hard but there are a lot of mechanisms and tools out there that can help us get there.”
When an audience member asked her whether it was time for a revolution, to transform curriculum and education, Wing replied with “Most definitely,” ending her presentation by encouraging participants to “agitate, agitate, agitate.”