Vendor Profile: Pacific Education Group
Since 2009, Evanston (both D65 and ETHS) has paid more than $1.1m to the Pacific Education Group and their local facilitators
FOIA Gras is a free newsletter run by Tom Hayden (FOIA GRAS LLC) that explores various topics in local Evanston Governance, especially around School District 65 (Evanston/Skokie). I publish and share all my data and reports. Subscribing is free, so please subscribe or share
This is a story about company that nationally is controversial, the Pacific Education Group (PEG).
I’ve discussed this vendor before, they were the firm that provided the training that resulted in District 65 receiving a (subsequently revoked) letter of finding from the Department of Education. Evanston has a long relationship with PEG that dates back to the mid-2000s, when they were first hired by ETHS.
Since then, Evanston (ETHS and D65) has spent more than $535k with PEG and $579k with local facilitators (I’ll discuss this below). The number is likely higher than what I have documented; there is missing data from 2010 and my understanding is that ETHS spent considerably that year. In addition, it’s hard to identify which local facilitators use PEG materials and which use their own, so I’ve likely limited my search somewhat.
The point is, Evanston broadly has invested more than a million dollars with PEG in some fashion. In School Year 2021-22 alone, Illinois Districts invested about $222k with PEG, according to filed annual statements of affairs. The number is probably much higher if you consider the spend with local facilitators who use the PEG content.
Who is the Pacific Educational Group?
The Pacific Educational Group is a for-profit corporation based out of Washington DC1. It’s owned by author and speaker Glenn Singleton. As a corporation, they are very protective of their brand and intellectual property, which consists of Courageous Conversation® and Beyond Diversity™ training. In fact, they’re so protective of the materials that a parent in Pennsylvania had to sue in order to even view it.2
To the best of my knowledge, PEG used to operate in a model where they provided both the intellectual property and the facilitators. But in recent years, they appear to have shifted the business model to start “certifying” local facilitators. For about $3,000 you can get certified as a PEG facilitator - in fact, you can view a FOIA’ed copy of an invoice for New Trier staff to be certified as PEG facilitators.
The PEG products are unabashedly critical race theory. I’m not going to belabor the politics, but you can read some slides they presented to UNC back in 2008 to get a good sense of the material. I want to be clear, I don’t have a strong opinion on the material or content of PEG’s training. Maybe it’s good, I’ve never taken it. Generally speaking, I am in favor of CRT.3
However, I want to note that PEG is not a little non-profit trying move the needle on equity. PEG is a for-profit corporation4 with a business model that is like an MLM scheme: there are a handful of (now, quite rich) people on top and dozens or hundreds of local facilitators acting on behalf of the corporation. These facilitators get paid when they get facilitation work with local school boards, companies, and so on and then PEG gets a check for licensing the intellectual property.
National Summit for Courageous Conversation®
PEG hosts an annual conference where they have guest speakers and various certification seminars such as Beyond Diversity™ I, Beyond Diversity™ II, and Beyond Diversity™ III, Beyond Diversity™ 2023: A Certification Community Experience.
This year (as with previous years), the District 202 Board President and District 202 Superintendent will be presenting a seminar at the conference;
I inquired whether they were being compensated by PEG for this presentation. I received no answer from PEG and the following answer from the District;
Dr. Campbell and Ms. Savage-Williams do not receive any compensation, fees, or reimbursements from PEG.
Dr. Campbell is an employee of ETHS District 202 and does not receive compensation to attend conferences. Ms. Savage-Williams is a volunteer Board member and abides by district policy (2:125).
Registered conference attendees may receive presentation materials upon request after the conference.
I asked a follow-up question regarding the last comment (“registered conference attendees”.) Conference registration is around $1,500. Dr. Campbell and Ms. Savage-Williams are quite literally presenting results about ETHS and Evanston’s kids. If District resources are being used (computers, time, etc) then this material is property of ETHS, not the Pacific Educational Group. I have complained before about the uncomfortable relationship between public resources used to benefit private consultants.
On July 10, 2023, I inquired;
One quick follow up question: Is it the ETHS's position that no public resources (either Dr. Campbell's time, computer hardware, etc) will be used for the authorship, creation, or display of the presentation materials, then? Otherwise, those presentation materials should be available to the public without having to purchase a PEG Summit registration.
I received no response to this follow-up inquiry.
They are incorporated in San Francisco but relocated a few years ago to DC.
This is not surprising to me; I’ve encountered similar push-back from literally all the for-profit DEI facilitators and programs when submitting FOIAs. For instance, I FOIA’ed a copy of D73’s materials from a DEI training and was denied for copyright. From a business standpoint, I guess their concern is that another facilitator will steal their materials? Sometimes I wonder if this is about equity or if it’s about getting paid.
You can read some of the opinions of D202 board members from back in 2013. Seems like a mixed bag? I do think it is fair to ask: after 15 years, has it positively improved our community or not. I will say that generally speaking, I am in favor of CRT. However, I strongly believe that the objective of CRT itself suggests that content and curriculum should be open source, not just a luxury for rich school districts run by a rich well-connected for-profit corporation.
California-registered For-Profit Corporation ID: #3714898