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Karel | May 26, 2021

[Video] Breaking Down Critical Social Justice Theory in K-12 Education

Here, James Lindsay sits down with high school teacher Will Reusch to talk about an issue of far more importance than the attention it is currently getting: the deep encroachment of Critical Social Justice Theory and activism into our primary and secondary education programs.

As they discuss, it is certainly true that most educators are just caring, engaged individuals who want to do what’s best for all their students, and it is this impulse that Critical Social Justice is manipulating to remake our education system into one of critical pedagogy for equity instead of effective pedagogy for learning. 

As effectively all of our colleges of education and pre-service teacher education programs are now based on critical pedagogy—the teaching of critical theory in service of the view that “teaching is a political act”—this is a significant problem. As our education programs prepare our future professionals, leaders, and citizens, this is also an important problem.

Join Lindsay and Reusch for an animated discussion of the hows and whys behind the Critical Social Justice movement’s bid to establish itself in our K-12 education programs and beyond.

[Video] What You Need to Know About Critical Race Theory

Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report talks to Christopher Rufo (writer, filmmaker) about his reporting on critical race theory and Donald Trump’s executive order banning government agencies from receiving training involving critical race theory.

Why Schools Are Teaching Our Kids “Social Justice”

The Woke have a very specific conception of the world and a very specific mission that has everything to do with that conception. Most of us, going about our daily lives and getting hit with Critical Social Justice — the ideology that leads one to become “woke” — don’t understand this.

We mistake what is, in fact, an entire worldview for a set of fringe ideas dealing with socially important issues like racism, sexism, and transgender rights. Most of us see “Wokeness,” in other words, as something that’s probably mostly good or, at worst, well-intentioned and benign.

When it comes to our children’s schools, then, many of us will conclude that it’s necessary and important in our modern, progressive world for our children to learn about these sorts of issues, and we trust our educators to communicate important truths about them so our kids can keep doing the good work of building a better society.

This kindly liberal view, borne from a combination of good intentions and being too busy to learn otherwise, misunderstands the Critical Social Justice ideology at the most fundamental level, however. It therefore completely misses the specific mission woke people—and woke educators—have for our society and our children. The crux of that mission is hiding in plain sight in the word “woke” itself, and it has everything to do with why we should be opposed to seeing these ideas featured in our educational system.

The mission of Critical Social Justice, to use its right name, is to “awaken” people to the so-called “realities” of systemic oppression in society, as it defines it—thus, “woke.” People who are woke are people who have been trained to see systemic oppression in a particular way, which has been outlined in an otherwise obscure branch of philosophy known as Critical Theory. Speaking formally, the Woke are people who have developed a “critical consciousness” about the identity-based systems of power that are alleged to permeate and define all of society, creating profound and almost intractable injustices that must be “disrupted and dismantled” to achieve “liberation.” The goal of “anti-racist,” “culturally aware,” and “social justice” approaches to education is to awaken a critical consciousness in our children so that they will grow up not to think critically but to think in terms of Critical Theories.

To understand why this isn’t just a problem but an incredibly alarming one requires understanding how the Critical Theories in Critical Social Justice see the world. That is, you have to understand what your kids will be “woke up” to in their classrooms.

To take the issue of race, Critical Race Theory begins with the assumption that racism is ordinary in our societies and present in all interactions and social and cultural phenomena, and it is up to the Critical Race Theorist—using a Woke critical consciousness—to “make it visible” and “call it out.” In Critical Race Theory, the question is not “did racism take place?” but rather, “how did racism manifest in that situation?”

Rather than learning how to do mathematics, then, your children will be taught to ask questions like how mathematics is used to maintain racial oppression—for it must, according to Critical Race Theory. This is precisely the sort of curriculum that we already see in the Ethnic Studies program in the state of Washington and its “ethnomathematics” project. Rather than focusing on the mechanics of mathematics, students will be taught to focus on the ways they can explore topics like racism and oppression through mathematics, or leaning on math as a foil that facilitates discussions on important topics—like “who it benefits” to focus on getting right answers in mathematics.

Other subjects will be similar, if not worse. A Critical Theory approach to studying American history will be dedicated to making students woke to all of the ways the United States, from its founding, has been an unjust, oppressive nation that systemically oppresses certain identity groups. This shouldn’t be understood to be part of a balanced program that reckons honestly with the darker aspects of our national past as framed against the liberal promises that eventually—and painfully—have won great freedom and equality to our diverse citizenry. It will be a sustained program of teaching our children how America is a horrible nation that has never been able to or even wanted to live up to its promise of all men having been created equally, as individuals. “Whiteness is property,” they will instruct, and that property is theft—slogans we have heard repeated as justifications for race-based riots throughout this ugly summer.

Indeed, many such programs will claim that the United States was founded intentionally on genocide, slavery, and a principle of white supremacy and anti-Blackness that has never been repaired. Its legacy is white privilege and white comfort that must be challenged at every opportunity if we are ever to achieve racial equity. Already, at least in the state of California, a proposed – although rejected – curriculum would teach these lessons not as history but as “hxrstory,” where “his” has been replaced by an explicitly “non-binary” formulation of “her,” so that maleness and cisheteronormativity won’t accidentally be centered in the term. (By the way, “his-story” isn’t even the genuine etymology of the word history, but Critical Theory looks for oppression hidden in unlikely symbols, even when it doesn’t make sense.)

Bringing Critical Social Justice into our educational systems is therefore not beneficent or benign. It is a deliberate attempt to try to program our children to think in an explicitly cynical, pessimistic, and falsely sociological way about all matters relevant to identity in every possible subject, including our history and even science and mathematics. The goal is to make our children woke, to give them a critical consciousness with which they will, unlike their parents, know that the point of understanding society is to change it in a very narrow and increasingly divisive way.

Editor’s Note: This article has been revised to clarify that a proposal to rename “history” “hxrstory” in California was rejected.

[Video] Teachers presenting white privilege as fact are breaking the law, warns minister

UK Treasury and Equalities Minister, Kemi Badenoch speaks out against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools and why teachers must be impartial.

Critical Race Theory divides us all

This hyper-racialised worldview is having an alarming influence on our institutions.

‘We do not want to see teachers teaching their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt’, said women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch during a Commons debate this week on Black History Month. ‘And let me be clear, any school which teaches these elements of Critical Race Theory as fact, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law.

Badenoch’s address was welcome confirmation that section 406 of the Education Act 1996, which requires teachers to be politically impartial in the classroom, applies to Critical Race Theory. Her statement should not be in any way controversial; anyone with even a cursory familiarity with CRT understands that it is fundamentally political, something that its proponents would never deny. Even so, Badenoch has predictably come under fire from identity-obsessed academics and journalists. Some have even berated the minister for opposing free speech, which simply shows that their grasp of the concept is severely limited. Like any other profession, teachers are obliged to fulfil the requirements of the job. It would be like a biology teacher refusing to cover the school curriculum, instead devoting all his lesson time to the reproductive anatomy of hens, and then declaring himself a free-speech martyr when fired for gross incompetence.

All Badenoch is saying is that political theories should not be taught as though they are incontestable, which happens to be a legal obligation. In one sense, the teaching of Critical Race Theory is an excellent idea, given that pupils should be able to understand how this divisive and destructive ideology has managed to infiltrate all of our major cultural, political and educational institutions. What better way to explore the concept of groupthink, the corruption of academia, and the bizarre phenomenon of activists who promote racial division in the name of anti-racism, than by studying a deeply flawed and yet hugely successful text such as Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility?

Critical Race Theory is underpinned by a number of suppositions. The first is that race is the defining principle of the structure of Western societies, and that ‘whiteness’ is the dominant system of power. Racial inequality is considered to be present in all conceivable situations, which is why literally anything can be problematised as racist, including breakfast cerealsthe countrysideyogacyclingtippingveganismtraffic lightsclassical musicWestern philosophyfree speechinterior designorcsmermaidspunctualitybeerbrasbotany, and even The Golden Girls.

Where racism is not immediately obvious, it must be assumed to be latent, and only those trained in Critical Race Theory are qualified to detect it. Often, when data explicitly show that racism in institutions is virtually non-existent, the notion of ‘lived experience’ – what used to be called anecdotal evidence – is invoked to prove the opposite. This is why the Guardian was able to run an alarmist front-page headline – ‘Revealed: the scale of racism at universities’ – even though the statistics cited in the article itself revealed that racism in higher education is vanishingly rare. Even in a society such as ours, where to be openly racist quite rightly makes one a pariah, to ask for evidence of systemic racism is taken as complicity in white supremacy.

Critical Race Theory, then, offers us an alternative vision of society, one that is pessimistic, regressive and opposed to material reality. It asks us to believe that racism is normalised and predominant, even though studies show that the vast majority of people in Britain are opposed to any form of racial prejudice. It suggests that the progress made since the civil-rights movements of the 1960s is a mirage, and that racism has been subsumed into all strata of society and that only through critical methods can it be revealed. The discourse of ‘anti-racism’ invites us to be proactive in this process of discovery. As attractive as it sounds – what kind of person wouldn’t describe themselves as anti-racist? – the concept deems activism as the only option for the enlightened. ‘There is no in-between safe space of “not racist”’, writes Ibram X Kendi. ‘The claim of “not racist” neutrality is a mask for racism.’ In other words, if you claim to be ‘not racist’ that makes you a racist.

Critical Race Theory advances a hyper-racialised approach to human interaction, one that discards the achievements of Western culture as white supremacist and essentially oppressive. This is why it favours historical revisionist endeavours such as the 1619 Project, but also seeks to ‘decolonise’ curricula in universities and schools. It is now one of the most powerful forces in public institutions. Even the British Library has a ‘Decolonising Working Group’ which hopes to review its collections and remove statues of its founders. One of the group’s more bizarre findings is that the library’s main building is a monument to imperialism because it resembles a battleship.

All of which amounts to a belief system that is as maddening as trying to ascend a staircase designed by MC Escher. Like all offshoots of postmodern thought – such as intersectional feminism, disability studies, fat studies and queer theory – incoherence is built into CRT’s core principles. The obscurantism is part of the point. It enables the well-versed to befuddle the layman with jargon, thereby giving vacuous theories the impression of substance. Activists rely on the ambiguity as a get-out clause to make statements that are bound to be interpreted as hostile. This is why Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal can tweet phrases such as ‘abolish whiteness’ and ‘white lives don’t matter’ and then blame those who are offended for being insufficiently schooled.

Many advocates of Critical Race Theory are doubtless well-intentioned, but that is little consolation for its deleterious effects on society. Since the death of George Floyd, numerous school authorities have embraced an ideological position that they barely understand, and teachers throughout the country have been advised to read the work of contentious authors such as DiAngelo and Kendi. Those who would deny that schools are modifying their policies in accordance with Critical Race Theory will have to explain why Channel 4 was able to make an entire documentary about a school that has done precisely that.

It will be interesting to see if Badenoch’s speech will have any broader repercussions in the corporate world or in higher education, where elements of Critical Race Theory have already been adopted as official policy, including mandatory ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘white privilege’ training. At next week’s University and College Union (UCU) conference, some of the submitted motions call for compulsory support for the BLM movement, the implementation of ‘anti-racist’ practice, and the decolonisation of curricula. If the activists get their way, it could have grave consequences for academic freedom and diversity of opinion in our universities.

Badenoch is right to clarify the legal obligations of teachers, particularly at a time when even to raise concerns about Critical Race Theory is to risk being branded a racist. As she pointed out in a recent interview in the Spectator: ‘It’s getting into institutions that really should be neutral: schools, NHS trusts, and even sometimes the civil service.’ We all share the desire to ensure that racism is challenged and defeated wherever it occurs, but this goal will never be reached through an ideology that exacerbates racial tensions and insists on division rather than unity.

Original article here.

[Video] Kemi Badenoch: The problem with critical race theory

Even now, months after the event, Labour MPs have not forgiven Kemi Badenoch for saying that Britain is one of the best countries in the world in which to be black. It was during the Black Lives Matter protests and many politicians — including Sir Keir Starmer — were ‘taking the knee’ to show fealty to its cause.

Badenoch took a different view, seeing within all this a pernicious ideology that portrays blackness as victimhood and whiteness as oppression. In parliament this week, she went further: this, she said, is ‘critical race theory’ — a new enemy for the Tory party and, as equalities minister, one for her to fight.

We met earlier this month in her old workplace, The Spectator (she was our digital chief), where she reassessed her earlier stance. ‘I’d go further and say this is the best country,’ she says. ‘I’ve lived in the US, I’ve lived in Nigeria, so I feel like I’ve got some context to compare. I look at South Africa and look around Europe and ask: are those places better to be black than the UK? I don’t think so. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect… But if as a politician, especially a black politician, I don’t say this, who will?’

When she spoke in the Commons this week in a six-hour debate on Black History Month, it was quite a moment for the Tories, who, as a party, have tended to shy away from the issue of identity politics. About 30 of them offered support from the normally empty benches as she declared war on critical race theory and BLM. She added that teaching children white privilege as a fact was ‘illegal’.

‘Many people don’t realise that [critical race theory] is political,’ she tells me. ‘It’s getting into institutions that really should be neutral: schools, NHS trusts, and even sometimes the civil service.’ She is particularly incensed by the boom in sales of texts such as White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (which claims all white people are racist and any denial of this is further evidence of racism) and Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race (whose thesis is that black history has been eradicated for the political purpose of white dominance). ‘Many of these books — and, in fact, some of the authors and proponents of critical race theory — actually want a segregated society.’ The ideas in such texts, she says, are reaching deep into large private companies and our institutions, as part of the movement to train people to be aware of their supposed ‘unconscious bias’.

She’s sceptical about such training, claiming that there’s no evidence that it works: if anyone is biased, she says, ‘You’re not going to change it within an hour’s training course.’ I point out that her own department, HM Treasury, offers this to civil servants. ‘I’ve asked to do the training!’ she replies. ‘I think there’s been enough time to have a look and see whether it’s working or not. And if it’s not, then we should remove it.’

I ask her about a recent story concerning the V&A, whose guidance for employees defines ‘black’ as ‘a term that embraces people who experience structural and institutional racism because of their skin colour’. ‘This is to politicise my skin colour,’ Badenoch says. ‘The logical conclusion of what they’re saying is that people in Africa who are not discriminated against on the basis of their race are not really black. It is associating being black with negativity, oppression and victimhood in an inescapable way. It’s creating a prison for black people.’

Black people who think like her, she says, tend not to be invited onto television. ‘There is a left-wing view of racial politics that’s assumed to be the black view of politics. Being black is not just about being a minority. On a global scale we are not a minority — but the rhetoric in this country is talking about us as if we are almost a separate sub-species.’

A Tory equalities agenda, she says, should be based on Martin Luther King’s ‘dream’ — that people should be judged ‘on the content of their character’ and not the colour of their skin. ‘Now, it’s all about the colour of your skin. That cannot be,’ she says emphatically. ‘You can’t pick and choose the rules depending on the colour of someone’s skin. That is what the racists do.’

I put to her that the Tories have dabbled in all this for quite some time, talking up racial injustice, then posing as the avengers. David Cameron notoriously claimed that a black Brit was ‘more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university’. ‘There can be an issue,’ she responds. ‘In trying to show that you are a party representing all people, you accept some of the false rhetoric in order to be able to demonstrate that you’re doing something about it. But there are enough problems for us without having to create new ones…The repetition of the victimhood narrative is really poisonous for young people because they hear it and believe it.’

Badenoch grew up in Nigeria and, aged 16, won a part-scholarship to Stanford University to study medicine, but the fees were still prohibitive. She then moved to Britain where, she admits, she experienced discrimination. ‘Some very lovely liberal headteachers said: “Why don’t you try being a nurse instead? It’ll be easier for you to get it.” I would call that racism. In their minds, they were probably trying to help me because they thought: “Oh, this poor black person, she seems to be doing OK at school, let’s get her on the nursing track. She won’t fail at that. But if we give her anything difficult to do, she will fail.”’

She began a career in software engineering before joining Coutts and then The Spectator. She then stood for the Greater London Assembly before being elected to the ultra-safe seat of Saffron Walden in 2017. When she was handed the equalities brief, it surprised her friends because she has had far stronger views on the subject than her party had, historically, been comfortable expressing.

‘Too often, everyone’s waiting for the prime minister to come out and say: “This is really terrible and we’re going to do something about it.” Of course, as politicians, we have a role to play. But it can’t just be us. If you’re just waiting for your MP to say something, then you’ve lost the battle.’

Original article here.

Woke Classrooms Show Why US Parents Should Be Free to Choose on Schools

Families that value liberalism over critical theory should be free to choose different educational options.

Illinois legislators last week voted in favor of enacting new “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards” in the state’s teacher education programs.

Beginning in October, all Illinois teacher training programs must start to reflect the new standards that focus on “systems of oppression,” with teacher trainees required to “understand that there are systems in our society that create and reinforce inequities, thereby creating oppressive conditions.”

Under the new standards, all teachers-in-training are also expected to “explore their own intersecting identities,” “recognize how their identity...affects their perspectives and beliefs,” “emphasize and connect with students about their identities,” and become “aware of the effects of power and privilege and the need for social advocacy and social action to better empower diverse students and communities.”

Even the Chicago Tribune editorial board warned against the passage of these standards in the days preceding the legislative session, noting that “while the rule-writers removed the politically charged word ‘progressive’ from their proposal, there’s no doubt these are politically progressive concepts as we know them in our current national dialogue. If the rules were tilting more toward traditional concepts of teaching, if the word ‘conservative’ were peppered throughout the rules, you can imagine the uproar.”

The Tribune editors also acknowledged the “real concerns” critics have expressed toward these standards.

“Teachers could be evaluated on how sensitively they meet students’ needs, how engaged they become in political causes, rather than how much their students understand basic reading, writing and critical thinking — must-have skills to prepare any student for life,” wrote the editorial board on February 15.

Two days later, a legislative committee approved the new standards.

The Illinois action is one example of an accelerating trend toward introducing and elevating critical theory ideology throughout US institutions, including government schools.

As Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay write in their book Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity—And Why This Harms Everybody: “A critical theory is chiefly concerned with revealing hidden biases and underexamined assumptions, usually by pointing out what have been termed ‘problematics,’ which are ways in which society and the systems that it operates upon are going wrong.”

Pluckrose and Lindsay trace the evolution of critical theory over the past half-century, from its emergence in academia to its growing influence in culture and public policy. They argue against its “illiberal” foundations that prioritize the group over the individual and that often silence free expression and dissent.

“In the face of this,” the authors write, “it grows increasingly difficult and even dangerous to argue that people should be treated as individuals or to urge recognition of our shared humanity in the face of divisive and constraining identity politics.”

The emphasis on identity politics rooted in critical theory is increasingly driving education policy, such as the new Illinois teacher standards as well as the continued push for a new high school “ethnic studies” graduation mandate in California. But it’s not just government schools that are affected by these policies.

In December, the Dalton School, a pricey New York City private prep school, made headlines when an 8-page manifesto was released demanding more attention to an “anti-racist” agenda, including hiring at least 12 “diversity and inclusion” staff members, compensating Black students who engage in antiracism activities or have their photos used in school materials, redistributing half of the private donations to Dalton toward New York’s public schools, and requiring “courses focusing on ‘Black liberation and challenges to white supremacy’ and ‘yearly anti-racist training’ for not only employees but trustees and Parent Association volunteers.”

Some parents of Dalton students removed their children from the school, including one father who told the New York Post: “It’s completely absurd and a total step backwards. This supposed anti-racist agenda is asking everyone to look at black kids and treat them differently because of the color of their skin.”

The same choice of exit should be open to more families who are disillusioned by what they see happening in their children’s schools. The school shutdowns and related remote learning plans implemented over the past year have given parents an unprecedented look at what their children are, or are not, learning in their schools. Many parents feel a renewed sense of empowerment and have left their district schools for private education options, including independent homeschooling which has more than doubled during the pandemic response. Other parents may want to leave their district school but lack the resources to do so.

Support for education choice policies that expand learning options for families has grown during the school shutdowns. A fall RealClear Opinion Research survey revealed that 77 percent of respondents are in favor of funding students over systems, up from 67 percent last spring.

Twenty-six states now have active legislative proposals to expand education choice and allow funding to follow students. Illinois is one of these states, with a proposal to create an education savings account program for income-eligible families that enables a portion of per pupil funding to go directly to families for approved educational expenses.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist, Milton Friedman, was an early and enthusiastic advocate of education choice policies. “If present public expenditures on schooling were made available to parents regardless of where they send their children, a wide variety of schools would spring up to meet the demand,” Friedman wrote in his book, Capitalism and Freedom. “Parents could express their views about schools directly by withdrawing their children from one school and sending them to another, to a much greater extent than is now possible.”

Parents may decide to remove their child from an assigned district school for a variety of reasons, ranging from academics to student well-being to ideology. As states like Illinois continue to push their educational institutions toward a more progressive ideology, rooted in critical theory, parents who disapprove of this ideology should have the choice and opportunity to exit in favor of other options.

“Liberalism values the individual and universal human values,” write Pluckrose and Lindsay in Cynical Theories. “Theory rejects both in favor of group identity and identity politics.”

Families that value liberalism over critical theory should be free to choose different educational options, and taxpayers who value the same should choose their legislators wisely.

California’s Education Department Chooses Critical Race Theory Over 100,000 Objections

The California Department of Education (CDE) voted to adopt the fourth version of an ethnic studies curriculum after four years, three previous versions, and more than 100,000 objections.

The reason for so many objections? The curriculum continues to be founded on critical race theory (CRT), which is the view that our legal, economic, and social institutions are inherently racist and are exploited by some Whites to retain their dominance by oppressing and marginalizing others. The CRT-focused curriculum will foster divisions among students and will almost certainly not improve learning outcomes, as advertised by its proponents.

The focus on critical race theory has been severely denounced, including by the editorial staff at the Los Angeles Times and implicitly by California governor Gavin Newsom, who vetoed the second version of the curriculum. This led to the watering down of CRT over each successive revision to the point that the critical race advisors to the curriculum resigned after the second revision, complaining that—you guessed it—racist and White supremacist organizations were trying to hijack their turf.

These members wrote: “We urge the CDE not to give in to the pressures and influences of white supremacist, right wing, conservatives (‘Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies’, ‘Educators for Excellence in Ethnic Studies’, Hoover Institute [sic], etc.) and multiculturalist, non-Ethnic Studies university academics and organizations now claiming ‘Ethnic Studies’ expertise.”

CDE made a mistake by investing the curriculum in critical race theory. The CDE is unwilling to let go of this despite so many Californians believing that none of the fourth version of the curriculum is in the best interest of California students. At a time when diversity and inclusiveness are the coin of the realm within education circles, it should be apparent that ethnic studies is not an exclusive club formed by those teaching critical race theory, nor do they hold veto power in terms of who is and isn’t qualified to have a relevant idea about the subject.  

In choosing to vote unanimously for the fourth version, the CDE has accepted a model curriculum with inaccuracies and omissions, as well as themes that will push students away from their own individualities and into group think that focuses on oppression and marginalization as the primary ills of today’s society. This passage from the opening paragraph says it all: “This coursework, through its overarching study of the process and impact of the marginalization resulting from systems of power, is relevant and important for students of all backgrounds.”

We should teach students world and American history honestly, openly, and with the opportunity for students to engage and understand the past with the hope that we will continue to do better, treating each other as the individuals that we are. We have had many successes in this enterprise, as no matter how flawed today’s world is, it is more democratic, civil, and peaceful than in the past.

But California’s ethnic studies curriculum differs sharply from this vision, because the narrative of critical race theory does not dovetail with a world that, on average, gets better each day. Some of the major principles of the curriculum are “critiquing empire-building and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, and other forms of power and oppression,” and “challenging racist, bigoted, discriminatory, imperialist/colonial beliefs and practices on multiple levels.” 

The book refers teachers of ethnic studies to draw on the New York Times 1619 Project, which at this point has been completely discredited in terms of its arguments about capitalism, and which reflects historical errors pointed out by the Times’ own fact checker, which were ignored.

The curriculum is also flawed, and dangerously so, regarding its depiction of the War on Drugs in the 1980s and 1990s: “The dominant narrative of the ‘War on Drugs’ was that drug dealers and users were causing violence, poverty, and addiction in cities across the country. In actuality, this narrative was used to justify disproportionate arrests of communities of color, even though Blacks and Whites use drugs at similar rates.”

According to the curriculum, the War on Drugs was a racist tool to put non-Whites behind bars. Taking their argument one step further, it implies that mayors of cities, including Black mayors, chose to incarcerate non-Whites because they were . . . not White. Nowhere does the narrative describe how crack cocaine devastated poor neighborhoods in many major cities in the 1980s through the late 1990s, turning certain sections of Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, Atlanta, New York—the list goes on—into war zones as competing drug dealers fought to control the sale of a toxic molecule that delivered enormously high profits.

Nowhere is it mentioned that the homicide rate of Black children between the ages of 14 and 17 more than doubled at the peak of these drug wars, nor that 14-to-17-year-old Blacks were 10 times as likely to be murdered than Whites during this period. Nowhere is it mentioned that the number of Black babies in foster care more than doubled, rising to a level more than six times that of White babies. How often is crack cocaine mentioned in the model curriculum? Never.

The War on Drugs did fail miserably in certain ways, including some drug sentences that were too long and inadequate prosecution of police corruption. But there are people alive today who would not be here had members from drug gangs not been arrested. Telling this part of our history—being honest and open about our country’s issues—does not fit with the narrative of critical race theory. And herein lies the major problem, and why a fourth version of the model curriculum remains unsatisfactory: because it is driven by a political and social agenda that omits the facts that inconveniently are at variance with its 24/7 narrative of oppression, imperialism, White supremacy, and exploitation.  

But there is some good news. The pushback of more than 100,000 objections removed some of the most inappropriate material in earlier versions. This includes deleting positive role-model narratives about convicted murderers of police and changing the benign narrative that was originally presented about Pol Pot and the Killing Fields, where as many as 30 percent of Cambodians were murdered by his regime. The discussion of Pol Pot in earlier versions focused on how US imperialism in Southeast Asia facilitated his rise to power, not on how he was one of the of most heinous dictators of the 20th century. Go figure. Discussions about capitalism being racist, and a section that included several disturbing discussions about racial purity, also have been removed.

I doubt all these changes would have come about without the efforts of Elina Kaplan, of the Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies, Lori Meyers of Educators for Excellence in Ethnic Studies, and Tammi Rossman-Benjamin of AMCHA, all of whom have been powerful forces for providing positive directions for the curriculum. Like me, they have been called White supremacists by critical race proponents on the curriculum’s advisory committee. White supremacists? When facts and logic don’t fit the narrative, then play the race card and go right to Defcon 1: “White supremacist.” Even when they know next to nothing about any of us. But the positive here is that the alternative perspectives that Elina, Lori, Tammi, and I have been advancing are getting attention and hopefully moving the needle.  

I hope these women continue to fight for California kids. We need them. And I hope that California’s school superintendent, Tony Thurmond, listens to them in the future. California schools have been chronically failing Black and Hispanic schoolchildren, as their math and reading proficiencies have been far below state standards for years. If we fix this, we will be able to fix so much more in our state, problems that will never be addressed by critical race theory.

 

I Refuse to Stand By While My Students Are Indoctrinated

Children are afraid to challenge the repressive ideology that rules our school. That’s why I am.

I am a teacher at Grace Church High School in Manhattan. Ten years ago, I changed careers when I discovered how rewarding it is to help young people explore the truth and beauty of mathematics. I love my work.

As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding.   

“Antiracist” training sounds righteous, but it is the opposite of truth in advertising. It requires teachers like myself to treat students differently on the basis of race. Furthermore, in order to maintain a united front for our students, teachers at Grace are directed to confine our doubts about this pedagogical framework to conversations with an in-house “Office of Community Engagement” for whom every significant objection leads to a foregone conclusion. Any doubting students are likewise “challenged” to reframe their views to conform to this orthodoxy. 

I know that by attaching my name to this I’m risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.

My school, like so many others, induces students via shame and sophistry to identify primarily with their race before their individual identities are fully formed. Students are pressured to conform their opinions to those broadly associated with their race and gender and to minimize or dismiss individual experiences that don’t match those assumptions. The morally compromised status of “oppressor” is assigned to one group of students based on their immutable characteristics. In the meantime, dependency, resentment and moral superiority are cultivated in students considered “oppressed.”

All of this is done in the name of “equity,” but it is the opposite of fair. In reality, all of this reinforces the worst impulses we have as human beings: our tendency toward tribalism and sectarianism that a truly liberal education is meant to transcend.

Recently, I raised questions about this ideology at a mandatory, whites-only student and faculty Zoom meeting. (Such racially segregated sessions are now commonplace at my school.) It was a bait-and-switch “self-care” seminar that labelled “objectivity,” “individualism,” “fear of open conflict,” and even “a right to comfort” as characteristics of white supremacy. I doubted that these human attributes — many of them virtues reframed as vices — should be racialized in this way. In the Zoom chat, I also questioned whether one must define oneself in terms of a racial identity at all. My goal was to model for students that they should feel safe to question ideological assertions if they felt moved to do so. 

It seemed like my questions broke the ice. Students and even a few teachers offered a broad range of questions and observations. Many students said it was a more productive and substantive discussion than they expected.

However, when my questions were shared outside this forum, violating the school norm of confidentiality, I was informed by the head of the high school that my philosophical challenges had caused “harm” to students, given that these topics were “life and death matters, about people’s flesh and blood and bone.” I was reprimanded for “acting like an independent agent of a set of principles or ideas or beliefs.” And I was told that by doing so, I failed to serve the “greater good and the higher truth.” 

He further informed me that I had created “dissonance for vulnerable and unformed thinkers” and “neurological disturbance in students’ beings and systems.” The school’s director of studies added that my remarks could even constitute harassment.

A few days later, the head of school ordered all high school advisors to read a public reprimand of my conduct out loud to every student in the school. It was a surreal experience, walking the halls alone and hearing the words emitting from each classroom: “Events from last week compel us to underscore some aspects of our mission and share some thoughts about our community,” the statement began. “At independent schools, with their history of predominantly white populations, racism colludes with other forms of bias (sexism, classism, ableism and so much more) to undermine our stated ideals, and we must work hard to undo this history.”

Students from low-income families experience culture shock at our school. Racist incidents happen. And bias can influence relationships. All true. But addressing such problems with a call to “undo history” lacks any kind of limiting principle and pairs any allegation of bigotry with a priori guilt. My own contract for next year requires me to “participate in restorative practices designed by the Office of Community Engagement” in order to “heal my relationship with the students of color and other students in my classes.” The details of these practices remain unspecified until I agree to sign.

I asked my uncomfortable questions in the “self-care” meeting because I felt a duty to my students. I wanted to be a voice for the many students of different backgrounds who have approached me over the course of the past several years to express their frustration with indoctrination at our school, but are afraid to speak up. 

They report that, in their classes and other discussions, they must never challenge any of the premises of our “antiracist” teachings, which are deeply informed by Critical Race Theory. These concerns are confirmed for me when I attend grade-level and all-school meetings about race or gender issues. There, I witness student after student sticking to a narrow script of acceptable responses. Teachers praise insights when they articulate the existing framework or expand it to apply to novel domains. Meantime, it is common for teachers to exhort students who remain silent that “we really need to hear from you.” 

But what does speaking up mean in a context in which white students are asked to interrogate their “white saviorism,” but also “not make their antiracist practice about them”? We are compelling them to tiptoe through a minefield of double-binds. According to the school’s own standard for discursive violence, this constitutes abuse. 

Every student at the school must also sign a “Student Life Agreement,” which requires them to aver that “the world as we understand it can be hard and extremely biased,” that they commit to “recognize and acknowledge their biases when we come to school, and interrupt those biases,” and accept that they will be “held accountable should they fall short of the agreement.” A recent faculty email chain received enthusiastic support for recommending that we “‘officially’ flag students” who appear “resistant” to the “culture we are trying to establish.” 

When I questioned what form this resistance takes, examples presented by a colleague included “persisting with a colorblind ideology,” “suggesting that we treat everyone with respect,” “a belief in meritocracy,” and “just silence.” In a special assembly in February 2019, our head of school said that the impact of words and images perceived as racist — regardless of intent — is akin to “using a gun or a knife to kill or injure someone.” 

Imagine being a young person in this environment. Would you risk voicing your doubts, especially if you had never heard a single teacher question it?

Last fall, juniors and seniors in my Art of Persuasion class expressed dismay with the “Grace bubble” and sought to engage with a wider range of political viewpoints. Since the BLM protests often came up in our discussions, I thought of assigning Glenn Loury, a Brown University professor and public intellectual whose writings express a nuanced, center-right position on racial issues in America. Unfortunately, my administration put the kibosh on my proposal.

The head of the high school responded to me that “people like Loury’s lived experience—and therefore his derived social philosophy” made him an exception to the rule that black thinkers acknowledge structural racism as the paramount impediment in society. He added that “the moment we are in institutionally and culturally, does not lend itself to dispassionate discussion and debate,” and discussing Loury’s ideas would “only confuse and/or enflame students, both those in the class and others that hear about it outside of the class.” He preferred I assign “mainstream white conservatives,” effectively denying black students the opportunity to hear from a black professor who holds views that diverge from the orthodoxy pushed on them.

I find it self-evidently racist to filter the dissemination of an idea based on the race of the person who espouses it. I find the claim that exposing 11th and 12th graders to diverse views on an important societal issue will only “confuse” them to be characteristic of a fundamentalist religion, not an educational philosophy. 

My administration says that these constraints on discourse are necessary to shield students from harm. But it is clear to me that these constraints serve primarily to shield their ideology from harm — at the cost of students’ psychological and intellectual development. 

It was out of concern for my students that I spoke out in the “self-care” meeting, and it is out of that same concern that I write today. I am concerned for students who crave a broader range of viewpoints in class. I am concerned for students trained in “race explicit” seminars to accept some opinions as gospel, while discarding as immoral disconfirming evidence. I am concerned for the dozens of students during my time at Grace who shared with me that they have been reproached by teachers for expressing views that are not aligned with the new ideology.

One current student paid me a visit a few weeks ago. He tapped faintly on my office door, anxiously looking both ways before entering. He said he had come to offer me words of support for speaking up at the meeting.

I thanked him for his comments, but asked him why he seemed so nervous. He told me he was worried that a particular teacher might notice this visit and “it would mean that I would get in trouble.” He reported to me that this teacher once gave him a lengthy “talking to” for voicing a conservative opinion in class. He then remembered with a sigh of relief that this teacher was absent that day. I looked him in the eyes. I told him he was a brave young man for coming to see me, and that he should be proud of that. 

Then I sent him on his way. And I resolved to write this piece.

Original article here.

[Video] Helen Zille on Wokeness

Join Nicholas Lorimer and Gabriel Crouse for an exclusive interview with DA Federal Council Chairman, Helen Zille, about her new book '#StayWoke Go Broke' and why she thinks the American culture wars are so bad for South Africa.

You Have to Read This Letter

A New York father pulls his daughter out of Brearley with a message to the whole school. Is the dam starting to break?

I was planning to publish a roundup today of the many thoughtful responses to Paul Rossi’s essay. I’m going to save that post for Sunday, because I was just sent this letter that has my jaw on the floor. It was written by a Brearley parent named Andrew Gutmann.

If you don’t know about Brearley, it’s a private all-girls school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It costs $54,000 a year and prospective families apparently have to take an “anti-racism pledge” to be considered for admission. (In the course of my reporting for this piece I spoke to a few Brearley parents.)

Gutmann chose to pull his daughter, who has been in the school since kindergarten, and sent this missive to all 600 or so families in the school earlier this week. Among the lines:

If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called “equity,” it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets. If the administration was genuinely serious about “diversity,” it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

I’m pasting the whole thing below.

Meantime, I’m going to ask Andrew Gutmann to join Paul Rossi and me for our subscriber-only conversation this coming Tuesday night. I hope he’ll join. Details about that event will be in Sunday’s post.

I promise: this newsletter won’t be exclusively about education. But my gosh is it a wild right story to follow right now. . .

See you Sunday.


April 13, 2021 

Dear Fellow Brearley Parents, 

Our family recently made the decision not to reenroll our daughter at Brearley for the 2021-22 school year. She has been at Brearley for seven years, beginning in kindergarten. In short, we no longer believe that Brearley’s administration and Board of Trustees have any of our children’s best interests at heart. Moreover, we no longer have confidence that our daughter will receive the quality of education necessary to further her development into a critically thinking, responsible, enlightened, and civic minded adult. I write to you, as a fellow parent, to share our reasons for leaving the Brearley community but also to urge you to act before the damage to the school, to its community, and to your own child's education is irreparable. 

It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop. It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearley has completely lost its way. The administration and the Board of Trustees have displayed a cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob, and then allowing the school to be captured by that same mob. What follows are my own personal views on Brearley's antiracism initiatives, but these are just a handful of the criticisms that I know other parents have expressed. 

I object to the view that I should be judged by the color of my skin. I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs. By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died. 

I object to the charge of systemic racism in this country, and at our school. Systemic racism, properly understood, is segregated schools and separate lunch counters. It is the interning of Japanese and the exterminating of Jews. Systemic racism is unequivocally not a small number of isolated incidences over a period of decades. Ask any girl, of any race, if they have ever experienced insults from friends, have ever felt slighted by teachers or have ever suffered the occasional injustice from a school at which they have spent up to 13 years of their life, and you are bound to hear grievances, some petty, some not. We have not had systemic racism against Blacks in this country since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, a period of more than 50 years. To state otherwise is a flat-out misrepresentation of our country's history and adds no understanding to any of today's societal issues. If anything, longstanding and widespread policies such as affirmative action, point in precisely the opposite direction. 

I object to a definition of systemic racism, apparently supported by Brearley, that any educational, professional, or societal outcome where Blacks are underrepresented is prima facie evidence of the aforementioned systemic racism, or of white supremacy and oppression. Facile and unsupported beliefs such as these are the polar opposite to the intellectual and scientific truth for which Brearley claims to stand. Furthermore, I call bullshit on Brearley's oft-stated assertion that the school welcomes and encourages the truly difficult and uncomfortable conversations regarding race and the roots of racial discrepancies. 

I object to the idea that Blacks are unable to succeed in this country without aid from government or from whites. Brearley, by adopting critical race theory, is advocating the abhorrent viewpoint that Blacks should forever be regarded as helpless victims, and are incapable of success regardless of their skills, talents, or hard work. What Brearley is teaching our children is precisely the true and correct definition of racism. 

I object to mandatory anti-racism training for parents, especially when presented by the rent-seeking charlatans of Pollyanna. These sessions, in both their content and delivery, are so sophomoric and simplistic, so unsophisticated and inane, that I would be embarrassed if they were taught to Brearley kindergarteners. They are an insult to parents and unbecoming of any educational institution, let alone one of Brearley's caliber. 

I object to Brearley’s vacuous, inappropriate, and fanatical use of words such as “equity,” “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called “equity,” it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets. If the administration was genuinely serious about “diversity,” it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Instead, the school would foster an environment of intellectual openness and freedom of thought. And if Brearley really cared about “inclusiveness,” the school would return to the concepts encapsulated in the motto “One Brearley,” instead of teaching the extraordinarily divisive idea that there are only, and always, two groups in this country: victims and oppressors. 

l object to Brearley’s advocacy for groups and movements such as Black Lives Matter, a Marxist, anti family, heterophobic, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic organization that neither speaks for the majority of the Black community in this country, nor in any way, shape or form, represents their best interests. 

I object to, as we have been told time and time again over the past year, that the school’s first priority is the safety of our children. For goodness sake, Brearley is a school, not a hospital! The number one priority of a school has always been, and always will be, education. Brearley’s misguided priorities exemplify both the safety culture and “cover-your-ass” culture that together have proved so toxic to our society and have so damaged the mental health and resiliency of two generations of children, and counting. 

I object to the gutting of the history, civics, and classical literature curriculums. I object to the censorship of books that have been taught for generations because they contain dated language potentially offensive to the thin-skinned and hypersensitive (something that has already happened in my daughter's 4th grade class). I object to the lowering of standards for the admission of students and for the hiring of teachers. I object to the erosion of rigor in classwork and the escalation of grade inflation. Any parent with eyes open can foresee these inevitabilities should antiracism initiatives be allowed to persist. 

We have today in our country, from both political parties, and at all levels of government, the most unwise and unvirtuous leaders in our nation’s history. Schools like Brearley are supposed to be the training grounds for those leaders. Our nation will not survive a generation of leadership even more poorly educated than we have now, nor will we survive a generation of students taught to hate its own country and despise its history. 

Lastly, I object, with as strong a sentiment as possible, that Brearley has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think. I object that the school is now fostering an environment where our daughters, and our daughters’ teachers, are afraid to speak their minds in class for fear of “consequences.” I object that Brearley is trying to usurp the role of parents in teaching morality, and bullying parents to adopt that false morality at home. I object that Brearley is fostering a divisive community where families of different races, which until recently were part of the same community, are now segregated into two. These are the reasons why we can no longer send our daughter to Brearley. 

Over the past several months, I have personally spoken to many Brearley parents as well as parents of children at peer institutions. It is abundantly clear that the majority of parents believe that Brearley’s antiracism policies are misguided, divisive, counterproductive and cancerous. Many believe, as I do, that these policies will ultimately destroy what was until recently, a wonderful educational institution. But as I am sure will come as no surprise to you, given the insidious cancel culture that has of late permeated our society, most parents are too fearful to speak up. 

But speak up you must. There is strength in numbers and I assure you, the numbers are there. Contact the administration and the Board of Trustees and demand an end to the destructive and anti-intellectual claptrap known as antiracism. And if changes are not forthcoming then demand new leadership. For the sake of our community, our city, our country and most of all, our children, silence is no longer an option. 

Respectfully,

Andrew Gutmann

Original article here.

These Parents and Teachers Have Had Enough of Woke Classrooms and Critical Race Theory

Parents are starting to push back. Here's what we can do to empower them.

More parents are waking up to the “woke” ideology that is seeping into their children’s classrooms and curriculum. Increasingly, they are speaking up and opting out.

Last week, Andrew Gutmann, a father of a student at the elite, $54,000-a-year Brearley School in Manhattan, wrote a scathing open letter to the school community. He stated that he wouldn’t be re-enrolling his daughter this upcoming academic year due to the school’s singular focus on “anti-racism” efforts that, according to Gutmann, are overtly racist and exclusionary.

“I object to Brearley’s vacuous, inappropriate, and fanatical use of words such as ‘equity,’ ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusiveness,’” wrote Gutmann in his 1700-word letter, which was published on Friday at journalist Bari Weiss’s website.

“If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called ‘equity,’ it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets," the letter continues. "If the administration was genuinely serious about ‘diversity,’ it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Instead, the school would foster an environment of intellectual openness and freedom of thought."

"And if Brearley really cared about ‘inclusiveness,’ the school would return to the concepts encapsulated in the motto ‘One Brearley,’" Gutmann concludes. "Instead of teaching the extraordinarily divisive idea that there are only, and always, two groups in this country: victims and oppressors.”

The Brearley School’s headmaster responded to the letter, calling it “deeply offensive and harmful.” But more parents are coming forward to speak up against these initiatives that are rooted in critical race theory, the push to view social and cultural issues through the lens of racial identity and, in particular, power structures related to that identity.

In an article last month at City Journal, Weiss described many of the parents who have come forward from prestigious private schools in major cities to criticize what they see as indoctrination of their children into a leftist ideology of “wokeism.” In an article last week, Weiss shared a letter from a teacher at one of these prep schools who is no longer willing to be silent about this ongoing indoctrination of students.

“As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students,” wrote Paul Rossi, who teaches mathematics at the posh Grace Church High School in New York City. “But right now, my school is asking me to embrace ‘antiracism’ training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding."

"‘Antiracist’ training sounds righteous, but it is the opposite of truth in advertising," Rossi concludes. "It requires teachers like myself to treat students differently on the basis of race.”

Grace Church High School made headlines in March for releasing an “Inclusive Language Guide” that, among other recommendations, urged the school community to become more “welcoming and inclusive” by avoiding words such as “mom and dad,” “parents,” and “boys and girls.”

As more parents and educators feel emboldened to speak out against the rising tide of wokeism in their children’s schools, it offers opportunities for change.

Some of that change might come from schools reining in their woke rhetoric if enough parents object, but much of the change will likely come from parents opting out of these private schools for other options. As more independent schools realize there is a market for focusing strictly on teaching and learning without political indoctrination, they will be able to differentiate themselves from schools seeped in critical race theory.

Similarly, more parent demand for alternatives to woke education will lead to more entrepreneurial efforts to build new learning models that focus on individual development over group affiliation.

 

I recently received an email from an Asian mother whose child attends a private school in the Boston area and who is fed up with the school “trying to ‘brainwash’ kids.”

“The social pressure to conform with what the schools define as ‘moral compass’ is enormous and exhausting," she wrote. "The underground chattering is bubbling and I wonder where the parents would ultimately draw the line and declare enough is enough. I personally feel time may be ripe for more innovative and balanced models to challenge the status quote of the existing learning institutions.”

The demand for non-woke education truly is skyrocketing and it presents a moment ripe for “creative destruction” in the education sector.

The term creative destruction was popularized by economist Joseph Schumpeter in his 1942 book, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, to describe the dynamic process of new business models and organizations replacing outdated or inadequate enterprises. He explained that capitalism is “the perennial gale of creative destruction,” fueled by entrepreneurship and innovation.

Parent demand may spur the private sector to offer alternatives to woke education through free-market capitalism, but what about the children forced to attend government schools that are much less responsive to market signals? Like many elite private schools, public schools are also embracing woke ideology at alarming rates.

In February, Illinois legislators voted in favor of enacting new “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards” in the state’s teacher education programs. These programs must begin to reflect the new standards that focus on “systems of oppression.” Illinois teachers-in-training will be expected to “explore their own intersecting identities,” and become “aware of the effects of power and privilege and the need for social advocacy and social action to better empower diverse students and communities.”

Around the same time the Illinois standards were passed, a group of educators released a document criticizing objective math education as being racist, and called for “dismantling white supremacy in math classrooms by visibilizing the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.” States like Oregon seem to be taking note.

And last month, the California Board of Education passed an ethnic studies curriculum for K-12 students that focuses primarily on four ethnic groups, including African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Latino Americans, and Native Americans. While the new statewide ethnic studies curriculum is not a high school graduation mandate, as California legislators and the state’s teachers union originally proposed before California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill last fall, the new school curriculum emphasizes group identity over individualism.

Ahead of the governor’s veto, The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote about the state’s proposed ethnic studies curriculum: “This is ugly stuff, a force-feeding to teenagers of the anti-liberal theories that have been percolating in campus critical studies departments for decades. Enforced identity politics and ‘intersectionality’ are on their way to replacing civic nationalism as America’s creed.”

Many parents may disagree with the woke ideology their children are exposed to in schools, or they may simply prefer that these schools focus on academics, not activism. But too many families have too few options beyond a mandatory public school assignment. Expanding education choice policies, as more than two dozen states are currently attempting to do, will enable more families to choose their preferred educational setting.

Private school parents are courageously pushing back against the ideology of wokeism that is invading their children’s schools, and they are using their resources to find or build different learning models. Education choice policies will allow public school parents the same opportunity of exit and innovation.

Original article here.

Biden Administration Prioritizes "Wokeism," Critical Race Theory In Schools

There is no constitutional role for the federal government in education.

The Biden administration is taking new steps to promote Critical Race Theory and The New York Times’s controversial 1619 Project in US education programs. In a proposed federal rule issued on Monday, the US Department of Education indicated that it will be using taxpayer funds to award millions of dollars in American history and civics education grants that prioritize the belief that America is systemically racist.

The grant program seeks “projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives into teaching and learning,” and refers to President Biden’s Inauguration Day executive order that explains how our country is plagued by “systemic racism” and “deserves an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda” to address this issue.

The new federal proposed rule refers to the 1619 Project and related curriculum resources as a “landmark” model for US history and civics education, despite its agenda-driven hostility against capitalism, its flawed historical analysis that many scholars have deemed false, and the Times’s own correction of the project.

The grant prioritization also pushes for greater emphasis on “anti-racism” training in schools, and quotes the work of Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist.

Successful applicants will demonstrate how their projects emphasize “systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history,” and promote “identity-safe learning environments.”

When former President Trump issued his call for a “1776 Commission” last September to advocate for widespread “patriotic education” in schools across the country, I warned that this was a bad idea. There is no constitutional role for the federal government in education. If one president decides to use the power of the federal government to push one particular educational paradigm, then another president could use the same power to push a different one. In my FEE article, I wrote:

“Emboldening the federal government to execute education policy may seem appealing when your preferred politician or party is in power, but that power remains when leadership inevitably sways to another politician or party. If you wouldn’t support a Biden ‘1619 Commission,’ then you shouldn’t support Trump’s ‘1776 Commission.’ If you wouldn’t support mandatory ‘critical race theory’ taught in your local schools, then you shouldn’t support mandatory ‘patriotic education’ either.”

But, here we are.

Decentralizing power away from the federal government and towards the state and local levels allows for greater taxpayer influence over public policy. It also makes it easier for citizens to choose where to live based on policy. For instance, if parents in Illinois don’t like the new teaching standards that the legislature recently passed to incorporate Critical Race Theory into state teacher training programs, they can always move to another state. If the federal government passes such a law, parents have far fewer options.

The Founders’ belief in federalism, or avoiding the concentration of power at the federal level, is crucially important. As James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, no. 45: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” States can make education policy. The federal government cannot.

 

While the federal government should not be involved in education policy, there is much to debate at the state and local levels in terms of curriculum and learning standards. Critical Race Theory is penetrating classrooms across the country, and parents and teachers are increasingly speaking out against this leftist ideology of “wokeism,” even if it costs them their job.

We should absolutely celebrate diversity, show tolerance for difference, and acknowledge the deeply racist parts of American history, including government-sponsored racism through Jim Crow laws and redlining. We should also recognize that racism still exists today.

But Critical Race Theory seeks to view all social and cultural issues through the lens of race and racial identity, and to cast all human relations in terms of power structures related to that identity. It is a collectivist notion that puts the group above the individual and pigeonholes people as either oppressor or oppressed.

Indeed, the history of Critical Race Theory is rooted in Marxist thought and began to gain traction in academic circles in the early to mid-20th century through the “Frankfurt School” before spilling over into the broader culture near the turn of the millennium.

Last fall, FEE’s Dan Sanchez, Tyler Brandt, and Brad Polumbo wrote an excellent, in-depth explainer article on Critical Race Theory (CRT), discussing how it threatened the important progress made by the Civil Rights Movement. “The pre-CRT Civil Rights Movement had emphasized equal rights and treating people as individuals, as opposed to as members of a racial collective,” they wrote. “In contrast, CRT dwells on inequalities of outcome, which it generally attributes to racial power structures.”

They argued that the Civil Rights Movement was in line with the broader classical liberal movement, whose harmony-oriented vision stands in stark contrast against the Marxian conflict-oriented view of Critical Race Theory.

“The classical liberal ‘harmony doctrine,’” they explained, “was deeply influential in the movements to abolish all forms of inequality under the law: from feudal serfdom, to race-based slavery, to Jim Crow. But, with the rise of Critical Race Theory, the cause of racial justice became more influenced by the fixations on conflict, discord, and domination that CRT inherited from Marxism. Social life was predominantly cast as a zero-sum struggle between collectives: capital vs. labor for Marxism, whites vs. people of color for CRT.”

The antidote to this Marxist framework is to prioritize individualism over collectivism, in both schools and society more broadly. It’s to focus on the content of one’s character rather than the color of one’s skin, as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. urged.

Critical Race Theory does the opposite. "‘Antiracist’ training sounds righteous, but it is the opposite of truth in advertising," math teacher Paul Rossi wrote last week in his letter objecting to the adoption of Critical Race Theory at his elite private school in Manhattan. "It requires teachers like myself to treat students differently on the basis of race.”

As more parents and teachers speak out against Critical Race Theory and “wokeism” in their schools, education policy and pedagogy will hopefully reject group antagonisms and embrace individual liberty and social harmony.

Original article here.

Keep Racist Critical Race Theory Ideology Out of K-12 Classrooms

How would you feel if your child came home from school and said her teacher had told her that everything that happens in the world is “racist” and that she’s part of the problem because of the color of her skin?

That may sound far-fetched, but such disturbing ideas are coming to your children’s schools, if they are not there already.

In Michigan, an Educator Advisory Council to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer produced a report called “Social Justice and Anti-Racist Resources” that included an article in which the author says everything that happens today is racist and the only question teachers and students can ask is “How much racism was in play?”

In Buffalo, New York, the school district’s “Emancipation Curriculum” told children that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism.” That statement was eliminated only after investigative journalist Chris Rufo put it in a headline and embarrassed the school system.

The message that “anyone who does not believe in systemic racism is part of the problem” is sadly permeating all the literature on race in America today.

At the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, a Smithsonian institution funded by taxpayers, officials released a document last year intended for use in schools that claimed ideas such as “hard work is the key to success” and that trying to “be polite” are evidence of an oppressive society.

Here again, museum officials withdrew the document only after complaints.

Examples such as these are common in K-12 schools today. When educators treat students differently because of their skin color or say children are guilty of oppression because of their race, it violates existing law. It should go without saying, but such dogma is also dispiriting for all children, white or non-white.

These ideas of oppression and systemic racism come from a Marxist doctrine called “critical theory.” Over the past 40 years, college professors and activists expanded critical theory into what is now called “critical race theory,” a worldview that “questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”

The curriculums and trainings cited above clearly belong to the Critical Race Theory discipline.

Last year, then-President Donald Trump blocked federal agencies and contractors from training federal employees to think that America is irredeemably racist, but President Joe Biden rescinded the ban on his very first day in office.

Now, state officials have the responsibility to make sure public school employees and those in other public institutions do not violate the Civil Rights Act or the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by calling for people to be treated differently according to race, sex, or national origin.

State lawmakers in New Hampshire, Louisiana, Florida, and elsewhere are considering proposals that reinforce federal law—and reject the “woke” culture of victimhood.

Because progressives have pounced on these moves as proof that conservatives are practicing cancel culture and intolerance, we released a report that explains why any reasonable interpretation of the 14th Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 means that implementing critical race theory in the manner described in the examples cited violates existing laws. The Civil Rights Act specifically prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, or national origin.

Teachers have a responsibility to help students understand different perspectives on controversial issues, and we should not ban the teaching of critical race theory. But increasingly, parents, policymakers, and the media are uncovering instructional materials that apply critical race theory, proclaiming that America is systemically racist and that people should be treated differently based on the color of their skin or their national origin.

Those ideas will not create a national identity that the future lawyers, doctors, and lawmakers—not to mention parents, neighbors, and co-workers—can share. State officials, local school board members, and educators have the power—and the right—to prevent this new material from telling students that there is no America, only tribes competing for power.

Anyone living in a nation alongside people from different ethnic backgrounds should take seriously the issues of race and equality under the law, but Americans also need to recognize the difference between separate racist acts and a legal system stacked against individuals from certain ethnicities.

Racist acts are deplorable and should be condemned. Yet, declaring Americans to be systemically racist today is a sign of disrespect to those brave souls who marched in civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s, fought to defend our way of life overseas, or are protecting our streets and communities now.

State lawmakers and local education officials must make sure new K-12 lessons do not discriminate by race, sex, national origin, or any other immutable characteristic, because such discrimination violates federal law.

And after all who have sacrificed to help America live up to her promise, we should hope that teaching students to treat people differently based on skin color would be “far-fetched” again someday.

Original article here.

[Video] What Is Critical Race Theory?

Have you heard of Critical Race Theory? If you haven’t, you will. It’s coming to a high school, college, or workplace diversity training session near you. What do you need to know about it, and what can you do to stop it?

States Are Moving to Ban Toxic 'Critical Race Theory' in Schools—But Their Efforts Could Backfire

No matter how good our intentions are, government involvement in education is bound to create political struggles and choose winners and losers.

Amom in a Boston-area online parenting group posted earlier this week that her child’s public school chemistry class was replaced one day by some older students who gave an 80-minute presentation to the class on “white power” and “white aggression.” The parent was surprised that this occurred during her child’s science period and concerned about the racialized language and content of the presentation.

This is critical race theory, or the practice of viewing all social and cultural issues through the lens of race and racial identity and casting all human relations in terms of power structures related to that identity. It is pervading both private and public school classrooms across the country, and is embraced by the Biden administration, whose recent proposed federal rule would use taxpayer funds to award millions of dollars in American history and civics education grants that prioritize critical race theory.

I have argued that critical race theory, as it is currently implemented in schools across the country, is a harmful and divisive ideology influenced by Marxism that moves us further away from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a nation that focuses on individual character, not color. It is important to speak out against this ideology that places group identity above individualism and creates a binary conflict between “oppressor” and “oppressed” in relation to race.

There is an understandable urge to use public policy to prevent this toxic ideology from seeping into US classrooms, but it is also important to recognize the limitations of government regulation in addressing critical race theory.

One of the great virtues of our country is our framework of federalism that seeks to minimize the powers of the federal government to those narrowly defined by the Constitution, while giving states wide freedom to enact policy on a variety of issues. When the federal government meddles in education, it impacts all of us. We might cheer when our preferred politician or party is in power and initiates programs we embrace, but when the pendulum inevitably swings, the cheering inevitably stops.

This is why it is just as important to oppose the Biden administration’s support for teaching critical race theory in America’s schools as it was to oppose the Trump administration’s support for teaching “patriotic education” through the proposed “1776 Commission.” The key is to limit the power of the federal government and devolve that power to the states.

One state recently took on the issue of critical race theory.

The full Idaho legislature just passed a bill preventing critical race theory from being taught in the state’s public schools and universities. The bill uses neutral language that recommits to nondiscrimination and calls for public education to “respect the dignity of others, acknowledge the right of others to express differing opinions, and foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and instruction, and freedom of speech and association.” This week, I joined the Idaho Freedom Foundation to talk more about this new bill, which the governor signed into law on Wednesday.

 

The bill may seem benign and affirming, but in its implementation it could prevent honest and important discussions about the history of American slavery and government-sponsored racism through Jim Crow laws and redlining.

It could effectively mandate that educators ignore or gloss over real examples of past and present American racism, or avoid books and resources that bring these examples to light. Indeed, one Idaho lawmaker, Rep. Heather Scott, stated in support of the Idaho bill that teaching Harper Lee’s classic book, To Kill A Mockingbird, in schools is an example of how critical race theory has been “creeping through our schools forever.”

To Kill A Mockingbird is a fictional story of actual racism in the Jim Crow-era South where a black man is falsely accused of raping a white woman. Statewide attempts to crush critical race theory in schools could go too far in responding to overly racialized classrooms by dismissing racism altogether.

State lawmakers can and should consider these issues when debating education policy, and be held accountable by their constituents. On Thursday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives also approved a ban on critical race theory in the state’s schools, and similar legislation is being discussed in several other states.

In Idaho, some people peacefully protested the newly enacted bill, and there are likely many parents who disagree with it. If Idaho parents don’t like the state’s policy response to critical race theory in schools, they should have the opportunity to leave their assigned district school. Similarly, if my state of Massachusetts passed a bill mandating critical race theory in public schools, then parents here who disagree with that curriculum approach should also have the freedom of exit. School choice policies such as education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tax-credit scholarship programs can help more families to do this.

The trouble with government involvement in education, even at the state and local levels, is that it creates political struggles and chooses winners and losers. This is why I ultimately favor a fully privatized education system, and why I advocate for the elimination of compulsory schooling laws.

But in the absence of that ideal, statewide school choice policies allow more parents to withdraw from a mandatory school assignment for whatever reason, including their possible disagreement over curriculum and classroom ideology. These policies allow per-pupil taxpayer funding to follow the child rather than the school in the same way that food stamps follow the grocery shopper rather than the store.

Government policy, even when implemented more locally and even when we might agree with the policy, is rooted in coercion. We can minimize that coercion by reining in government and limiting the power of politicians over our lives, as well as by creating off-ramps to allow those citizens who disagree with a coercive policy to more easily opt-out.

Original Article here.

Critical Race Theory Drives Students Apart. Idaho Lawmakers Had Enough

Officials at an Idaho middle school tried pressuring teachers to judge students by the color of their skin. But state lawmakers rejected this application of critical race theory, a deeply divisive philosophy driving many federal, state, and local policies today.

Idaho lawmakers made the case that school officials should not force students to believe “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin is inherently superior or inferior.” This is a biased belief that would violate any reasonable interpretation of federal civil rights laws if students acted on it.

Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, approved the proposal this week. With the new provisions, “no public institution,” including colleges and K-12 schools, “shall direct or otherwise compel students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere” to the idea that “individuals should be adversely treated on the basis of their sex, race, religion, color, or national origin.”

Lawmakers were right to be concerned that some educators were distorting the idea of equality under the law. The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a research institute based in the state, obtained a flyer posted by Meridian Middle School officials that says it is not enough for teachers to “treat ALL students the same” (emphasis in the original). Instead, school officials say educators must recognize students’ multiple identities based on race, sex, religion, and other immutable traits.

Colorblindness, according to the school officials, is a “myth,” a rejection of this once-cherished idea from the civil rights movement. The flyer, available on the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s website, says colorblindness “perpetuates the idea that ‘white’ is the norm and everything else is not.”

It goes on to say that teachers are biased, whether they know it or not. That’s why you should “be aware of the areas you may experience privilege based on your gender, race, and sexual or gender identity” and “acknowledge your role as a social activist,” even if you did not realize you had chosen to be one.

The flyer is a striking example of the woke mob’s attempt to control how people think and act. It tries to manipulate guilt (“you may experience privilege”) and rejects the idea that we are all created equal, and that legal and cultural institutions should treat us accordingly (“reject the myth of colorblindness”).

The critical race theory dogma on display in this Idaho middle school is a philosophy that originated in Germany in the 1920s among a group of Marxist intellectuals. Originally termed “critical theory,” it teaches that we must consider society as being inhabited only by oppressors and the oppressed.

This worldview influenced professors in American law schools in the mid-20th century, inspiring a generation of lawyers, legislators, and legal scholars to apply the idea to an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and legal system, arguing that American law is systemically oppressive. President Joe Biden even used this term in his speech before Congress earlier this week.

Still other intellectuals and academics in the U.S. expanded critical theory into what is now known as critical race theory, which believes that racial discrimination causes the constant state of oppression in society.

These ideas should offend the generations of Americans who have been taught that, as historian and former adviser to President John F. Kennedy Arthur Schlesinger said, “There are few better arguments for the Bill of Rights than the revolution in race relations over the last half century.”

What bizarre times we live in when lawmakers feel it necessary to remind teachers that students should not be taught to discriminate against other people based on immutable characteristics.

State lawmakers in TexasLouisianaNew Hampshire, and Oklahoma, to name a few, are considering proposals similar to what Little approved in Idaho, and for good reason. For example, in Louisiana, the Orleans Parish school board adopted a resolution that says “our country’s racist history” is “still pervasive in today’s systems” and calls this nation “an unjust systemic racist America.”

How are students to believe that the American dream could ever be within their reach if school officials are telling them that this nation that they call home holds no such promise for them?

As lawmakers consider such proposals, policymakers should be careful to protect free speech rights. Teachers, especially college professors, commonly assign students critical reading material such as the “Communist Manifesto,” but lawmakers should be prepared to prohibit teachers from telling students to apply critical ideas.

Educators should not treat colleagues or students differently according to skin color or any other immutable characteristic, nor should teachers tell students to do the same.

“Wokeness is a problem and we all know it,” progressive campaign strategist James Carville told Vox this week in an interview. Shortly after Vox posted Carville’s comments, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., responded to Biden’s address by saying, “Race is not a political weapon to settle every issue the way one side wants.”

It’s refreshing that we can still find such perspectives on both the right and left. Educators should be listening.

Original article here.

Texas bans ‘woke philosophies’ from being taught in classrooms

Republican lawmakers in Texas are reportedly moving forward with an effort to prohibit teaching of “woke philosophies” such as critical race theory in favor of “traditional history” being taught in schools.

Two pieces of legislation, Senate bill 2022 and House bill 3979, making their way through the legislature would ban teachers from teaching anti-racist material, and from receiving private funding or material for teaching the controversial 1619 Project.

The Senate bill, authored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, says that “no teacher shall be compelled by a policy of any state agency, school district, campus, open-enrollment charter school, or school administration to discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs.” 

In addition, schools would be barred from requiring “political activism” as part of a course or including as extra credit, and from teaching that people should feel “discomfort” or “guilt” because of their race or sex, according to the bill text. Students also would be prohibited from being taught that “meritocracy” or “hard work” are racist or sexist, the bill says. 

Creighton told the Texas Tribune the bills are meant to encourage schools to teach “traditional history, focusing on the ideas that make our country great and the story of how our country has risen to meet those ideals.” 

“Texans reject critical race theory and other so-called ‘woke’ philosophies that maintain that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex or that any individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement, according to the Texas Tribune. “These divisive concepts have been inserted into curriculums around the state, but they have no place in Texas schools.”

But a Texas State Teachers Association representative told the Tribune the bills would make schools paper over American “injustices” in their curricula. 

“These bills try to ignore or downplay the racism, sexism and other injustices in our state’s and nation’s history, but students must be encouraged to fully explore and understand those injustices if Texas is to provide an equitable future for a rapidly diversifying population,” said spokesperson Clay Robinson, according to the report. 

Original article here.

Joe Biden Wants to Take Critical Race Theory to the Next Level

If the Biden administration gets its way, the federal government will soon be alternatively bribing and threatening every school district in the country to push divisive and damaging curricula on race in the classroom.

It would come courtesy of a proposed rule from the Department of Education, available for public comment until May 19. In announcing the rule, the Department cited the historically debunked 1619 Project from the New York Times, as well as the “scholarship” of Ibram X. Kendi, whose many radical arguments include a suggestion that every law in the country should be subject to the approval of an unelected board of “antiracist” academics.

But the rule’s consequences would be more than academic. It would infuse critical race theory into the whole of the federal government’s primary governing law concerning K-12 schools, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And if Congress standardizes state civics metrics, the rule will help shape the content of it (and do it with a billion-dollar-a-year cash infusion), unwittingly moved forward in a bipartisan way by Republicans.

Initially, the rule would apply only to a couple of small grant programs. But it wouldn’t stop there. Its introduction would follow a pattern similar to that of other unpopular national curriculum efforts, such as Common Core, which gained entrée to classrooms all over America through a carrot-and-stick approach.

Critical race theory is already engendering strong pushback from parents and state legislatures, incensed by an ever-growing list of outrages.

In New York City, parents lamented that white students as young as ten years old are learning that they are perpetuating the problem of racism and that their families are racist. In North Carolina, a teachers’ conference focused on “whiteness” and “disrupting texts.” In Oregon, teachers were encouraged to take “ethnomathematics” in order to “dismantl[e] racism in mathematics.” In California, teachers were taught to hide radical left-wing indoctrination from students’ families.

Now Washington proposes to do another end-run around parents through Department of Education bureaucracy, one that will add jet fuel to the already-burgeoning industry of radicals, grifters, and consultants all intent on hocking an ideology that drives a wedge between students of different backgrounds and divorce students of color from any feelings of patriotism for their country.

States are already responding to teachers’ union-led school closures against scientific advice by proposing school choice programs. No fewer than thirty state legislatures are considering new and expanded options that would empower parents to take their education dollars to whatever learning option best suits their children.

It’s imperative that parents be freed financially from dependence on public schools that will be tempted to take the grants offered under this proposed rule. However, school choice will be effective if parents are involved—and vigilant, because as recent events have demonstrated, private schools are not immune to this pernicious ideology.

In a recent open letter, Paul Rossi, a school teacher at a private school in New York City, walked through how his school has implemented “antiracist” teachings and how those teachings are impacting children. As Rossi explains, CRT and its calls to “undo history . . . lacks any kind of limiting principle and pairs any allegation of bigotry with a priori guilt.”

Or take the case of Brearley parent Andrew Gutmann. Brearley is a tiny $54,000-per-year private school that now requires parents to sign an “antiracism pledge” prior to admission. Gutmann recently pulled his daughter from the school and penned a scathing letter on the pernicious nature of CRT. “I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs,” he said in his letter.

The fight is everywhere. Critical race theory is turning Americans against one another by weaponizing what used to be the fantasies of tenured professors in dimly lit offices of the Ivory Tower, now transmitting it through colleges of education to teachers who carry it into the K-12 classroom. The Biden administration now plans to supercharge that effort through federal rules and regulations, access to billions in taxpayer funding, and the imprimatur of the federal government.

Children deserve better than to have the emotional distress of CRT inflicted upon them. Parents must make their voices heard at the more than fourteen thousand school boards across the country. Taxpayers must shout “no” to their hard-earned money being used to further this pernicious ideology. And people must have the courage to speak out against this great threat to the greatest country in the world.

Original article here.

[Video] Concerned parent speaks out against critical race theory on 'Tucker Carlson Tonight'

Concerned mother opposes the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the school of her child.

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