The laws are bad. I’ve said it. Others have said it. Laws are not up to the job of addressing the myriad issues and problems. But the problem not only isn’t going away, no matter how passionate Judd Legum’s denials.
This is no small matter, given that many progressives have rested their entire defense of CRT on the idea that it’s a very narrowly defined aspect of elite law school training. Judd Legum, formerly of [the now defunct] ThinkProgress, has said the notion that CRT is taught in K-12 schools is a lie. During an extended and furiously unproductive debate on the subject, MSNBC’s Joy Reid accused Manhattan Institute scholar Christopher Rufo—the leading anti-CRT activist—of “making up your own thing, labeling it something that already existed as a name, slapped that brand name on it, and turned it into a successful political strategy.”
There are some hills parents will happily die on, and the indoctrination of their children is one of them. Teachers unions, on the other hand, know better.
Like the AFT, the NEA is on board.
This doesn’t mean your child’s teacher is going to turn second-grade math into a “struggle session” about why its white supremacy to conclude that 2+2=4, or that your kid’s elementary school will be hanging signs over the door that say “hard work is racist.” If the issue is whether 9th grade American history needs to do a better job teaching about slavery and Jim Crow laws, that would be one thing. But that doesn’t appear to be what the unions are up to.
At its yearly annual meeting, conducted virtually over the past few days, the NEA adopted New Business Item 39, which essentially calls for the organization to defend the teaching of critical race theory.
“It is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory,” says the item.
It’s almost as if they’ve taken some right-wing nightmare and set it into curricular stone.
Consistent with its defense of CRT, the NEA will also provide a study “that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society.” The implication is that these critiques are aspects of critical race theory, which in a weird way makes this an example of the activist left basically accepting the activist right’s new working definition of CRT as “all of the various cultural insanities.”
And you thought the states that required the teaching of the “1619” revisionist “history” was bad enough? Wait until junior comes home from school to inform you that if you’re not an anti-racist, you’re a racist complicit in oppression and he won’t eat his broccoli because of the patriarchy.
Will this happen? Who knows? No doubt there will be resistance by teachers and school boards that reject this ideological indoctrination, but there will be others that embrace it and believe it’s their righteous duty to turn little Suzy into an avenging angel against anthropocentrism. After all, who knows better about how to educate the young’uns than the educational establishment, as represented by teachers unions?
This has the potential for an explosive war between parents and teachers, parents and school boards, that will end up proving disastrous for education. As the “adults” fight, the children fail to be educated, the attitude toward education and teachers shifts from valued to loathed, and schools and teachers become the putative enemies of parents who refuse to let some woke teacher instill her flavor of racial morality in their little darling.
How far this will go, how real this will get, is unknown as of yet, but one thing is abundantly clear. Parents will not quietly acquiesce to the conversion of their second graders into social justice warriors. It’s the perception of harm to children that will do the damage long before actual damage is done, as children only have one chance to be a second grader and parents aren’t about to let the NEA or AFT ruin it for them with their “academic frameworks.”
It’s not as if our educational system is doing such a great job teaching math, science, reading or, well, much of anything. It’s not as if there’s a lot of downtime to fill with lessons about the evils of white supremacy and why hoop earrings are microaggessions. And it’s not as if parents send their children to school to be indoctrinated into critical race theory or any of the racial or gender permutations that lack a usable name so they can be condemned.
So as long as schools have been doing an extremely mediocre job before, and then lost at least a year of meaningful education during the pandemic, will parents be happy to have their children welcomed back to elementary school classrooms with tests seeking the correct spelling of “cis-heteronormative”?
What we’re talking about, and where this is going, has become more the battlefield than what we’re depriving children in desperate need of an education. They will never get another chance to be in second grade, and if we blow it on culture wars, we have abused them. But will parents hand their kids over to the AFT and NEA because they’re the “experts” in reimagining a curriculum based on Kendi? This is going to be a fiasco.