End of controversial Deep Equity and YES programs in CUSD


Anna Myers

Corwin Deep Equity is being utilized in school districts throughout the states highlighted in purple. The program was implemented in Chandler Unified up until the district’s recent decision to phase it out.

After months of controversy, parent complaints, and community concerns, the CUSD governing board has officially begun to phase out the Corwin Deep Equity program, based on the essays of Dr. Gary Howard.

The curriculum was introduced at the beginning of 2019 as a part of the board’s Journey 2025 plan that promotes the reform of the district’s equity, grade level proficiency, graduation rate, and communication with the community. 

Alongside Deep Equity, high schools within district adopted the YES, Youth Equity Stewardship, program. 

Unease was first recorded in the board meeting minutes on Jan. 9 of last year. The archives outline that “Community member Kurt Rohrs expressed concern about the Deep Equity program now being implemented in Chandler School District… Politics should not drive the educational process rather a culture of excellence should be promoted.”

More anxiety stemmed from one specific essay by Dr. Howard entitled “How we are white.” The piece expresses that if you are born white you are “inextricably tied to privilege,” and inadvertently racist, a claim that worried teachers and parents. This concern was voiced at the Dec. 4 board meeting.

Gary Howard’s “How we are white” 

Community apprehension continued to grow as the year digressed. 

Parent groups organized and teachers contacted human resources. Board meetings began to be characterized by tension and hostility as the upholstered seats at the district office became flooded with support and opposition. One retired English teacher from Desert Vista commented at a meeting that “I’m a taxpayer in CUSD and I’m afraid of what I have heard about this equity program.”

Despite the mass amount of opposition from the community, the program did cultivate some support from groups that agreed: equitable environments are lacking in Chandler schools. 

In an email to faculty members over the Winter break, superintendent Dr. Camille Casteel issued that “The Deep Equity YES material and trainers have been discontinued.” CUSD spokesperson Terry Locke confirmed this. “We are no longer using Corwin programs,” he explained. “We needed some help to kick start a diversity and inclusion program and we hired an outside organization to do so.” 

Locke and other board members failed to establish whether or not any specific programs were being considered to replace Corwin Deep Equity, and what the budget for these projects would look like. Locke did reiterate however that the district is “as committed to diversity and inclusion programs as ever.”