Schools across country disbanding DEI programs in droves; education expert explains why

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last summer to ban affirmative action practices in college admissions, in addition to various state legislation and mounting political pressure, a growing number of institutions for higher learning are dismantling their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and practices. The Chronicle of Higher Education has tracked changes at 158 college campuses in 22 states since January 2023, saying the tracker “collects changes that public colleges have made to offices, jobs, training, diversity statements, and other DEI-related activities as the result of bills, executive orders, system mandates, and other state-level actions.”Most recently, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees dismantled its DEI programs and transferred millions in funding instead to public safety and campus police on the heels of sweeping anti-Israel demonstrations. Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education, a national grassroots group aimed at urging schools to “educate — not indoctrinate,” told Fox News Digital in an interview that the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision provided a legal backstop for some universities already unhappy with the lack of results from bloated DEI departments receiving millions in funds.ELITE UNIVERSITY ELIMINATES DEI HIRING REQUIREMENT: ‘THEY DON’T WORK'”I think it’s an opportunity to start to rein in these excesses, because as much as all these districts and educators and universities talk about ‘we want evidence based’ — where is the evidence that this programming has worked or made an impact? I mean, are our campuses calmer and more chill than 10 years ago? Absolutely not,” she said. Neily explained that in some institutions, DEI “proxies” are starting to arise, perhaps to evade accountability. “A couple years ago, it was critical race theory. And then everybody said, ‘No, we’re not doing critical race theory. Now what we’re doing is culturally responsive teaching,’” Neily explained.”I think the same thing is happening with the DEI moniker. We’re sort of watching this shift in real time. For a while it was JEDI — justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Now, we’re seeing a lot of so-called ‘belonging.’” Neily added that part of the problem has been “there’s just a really significant public choice conundrum built into it.”RUTGERS UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR SAYS WITHOUT DEI OFFICES, THERE IS ‘NO ABILITY TO MAKE MEANINGFUL PROGRESS'”If you have a fiefdom, if you are the DEI dean or the DEI director, you can’t actually go at the end of a fiscal year and say, ‘Hey, incidents of hate on campus have dropped a lot, or it looks like we’re like we brought in the most diverse class ever,’ because then you have a smaller budget, and then you have to find your staff. It’s a solution in search of a problem kind of thing,” she explained. But now in light of the Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard case, in which the Supreme Court in June ruled that using race as a factor in college admissions is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, Neily says school administrators who are not in favor of DEI problems but “felt like they had to” have them now have legal cover to dismantle them. SEN MIKE LEE TARGETS UNIVERSITY GRANTS, CITES ‘WOKE DEI PROGRAMS,’ ANTI-ISRAEL RIOTSThe Chronicle reported that legislation in over 20 states has already impacted schools’ DEI programs. But Neily says she hopes to see more. “The governors do have a lot of control over this, as do the state legislatures. So I would like to see a little bit more urgency from them about this, that we believe in a colorblind society, we believe in America. We don’t believe in Balkanizing humans based on immutable characteristics. So why are our federal and state tax dollars being used for that purpose?” she said.Fox News Digital’s Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.
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