It is well known that America’s schoolchildren are woefully ignorant of their national history and government. Majorities of young adults no longer feel grateful to be an American, undoubtedly because they fail to comprehend the precious freedoms to which they were born.
So are the teachers unions who educate our children concerned about this deplorable situation? Do they have a plan to correct it? You know the answer.
Instead, the National Education Association recently voted to ensure that all American school children are comprehensively taught Critical Race Theory. This is the unscientific notion that white people are inherently, incorrigibly racist and thus America’s foundational values were and are bigotry and racial oppression.
As the NEA puts it, “all K – 12 schools should teach children that White supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-indigenity, racism, patriarchy, capitalism, and anthropocentrism form the foundation of our society“. Furthermore “to deny opportunities to teach truth about Black, Brown and other marginal races minimizes the necessity for students to build efficacy.”
Not sure what that last means, but basically nobody is trying to prevent teaching about slavery, Jim Crow or the struggles racial minorities have faced. It should be balanced with the recognition that America has come a long way in correcting injustices and that there are boundless reasons to feel pride and love for our country.
The NEA means business. They’re allocating a $70,000 addition to normal operating funds to push CRT. More ominously, they are funding an “opposition research” effort meant to smear parents and organizations opposed to racist propagandizing of their children. Charming.
These same unions also spearheaded the effort to keep schools closed long after it was known that school children were neither the victims nor spreaders of serious Covid disease. They demanded political favors, like forcing private schools to also close and limiting new charter schools, as the ransom for their return to the work they were being paid to do. Some schools are not open even yet.
The results of their mulish selfishness are trickling in. It’s bad. Students in every grade are failing classes and falling behind.
Preliminary research suggests that students will return with less than 50% of normal learning gains in math and under 70% in other subjects. Since these are averages, disadvantaged and disabled learners will fare even worse. Catching up this much academically is difficult, if not impossible. It will take years, if ever, to undo the damage.
Meanwhile, our nation’s teachers’ unions are doubling down on the effort to turn public schools into centers for radical indoctrination. History is now taught as the ceaseless struggle between oppressors and victims. A substitution of “race” for “class“ is the only deviation from classical Marxist theory.
Students in biology are taught that gender is merely a social construct and that they are free to select theirs “don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” Math instruction is threatened by “social justice” warriors who deem requiring one correct answer and showing your work to be “white.“
Great literary works are being culled, and our history obliterated, for lack of adherence to modern standards of political correctness. Shakespeare and Steinbeck are among those facing permanent removal.
Some teachers are refusing to teach “To Kill a Mockingbird” because of racist language and the depiction of a “white savior.” That’s rich. Arguably the most influential anti-racist novel of modern times is shunned because Atticus is a decent white man who helps blacks and that doesn’t fit CRT’s malignant stereotypes.
In a few months, they’ve gone from claiming CRT isn’t taught in K-12 to insisting that instruction must be universal. Fortunately, grassroots and parent groups are waking up and fighting back. They should consider resisting not only objectionable courses of instruction, but the politicized education system that creates them.
Clear majorities, Including 75% to 85% of minority parents, favor charter schools and other forms of school choice. Yet there is stiff political resistance to reforms like Educational Savings Accounts, which empower parents. Arizona’s legislative Democrats this session voted unanimously to deny parents these options, thus denying them leverage in their dealings with unresponsive unions and schools.
So is public education meant to benefit the big people or the little people?
As a retired Arizona teacher and former member of the National Education Association, I am disgusted regarding the teachers unions’ recent solid support for instruction based on “critical race theory” – a point of view that promotes divisiveness based on race and/or ethnicity. Although recent state legislation outlaws CRT instruction in public schools, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, is advising the teachers to break the law and continue with it nevertheless. She promises that the union will pay any fines imposed on them.
CRT instruction is not new to Arizona. For several years, the Tucson Unified School District has implemented a program referred as “ethnic studies,” specifically “La Raza” for Hispanic students. This course of study promotes racial hatred toward whites, much like CRT. For example, the book OccupiedAmerica used in La Raza classes includes a speech by a Mexican leader who calls upon Chicanos To “kill the gringo” and end white control over Mexicans.
In 2008, several Tucson students reported that the director of the La Raza program had called a popular Mexican-American teacher a “White man’s agent” because he did not agree with the anti-white instruction. The students added that they were advised to “not fall for the White man’s trap” and to attend college to attain the power to take back “the stolen land” and return it to Mexico.
Tom Horne, former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction (2003-2011) and then State Attorney General (2011-2015), opposed this instruction so much that he wrote a bill prohibiting it. The legislature passed it and Governor Jan Brewer signed it into law in 2010. However, in 2017, after Horne had left office, a liberal federal judge found the law to be unconstitutional. No one in public office at that time bothered to appeal this judgment so it has continued in Tucson schools.
People do not realize teachers unions have failed the public in other ways. While still a teacher in 1998, I left the union myself in response to its involvement in replacing a competent Phoenix high school principal who valued student achievement with an incompetent one who favored equity over equality. This leadership-change resulted in the gradual demise of advanced placement instruction and the watering down of other classwork. A once-orderly high school turned into a teenage day center. This high school never recovered. Presently, Great Schools ranks it, out of a possible “10”, as “3” in academic progress and “2” in state test scores.
Several years ago, in a community column for the Arizona Republic, I compared Phoenix school districts with high union enrollment with those with low or no union enrollment. The highest paying district had the greatest number of union members, yet turned out to be the one with the lowest rate of student achievement. Other factors such as poverty come into play when making these evaluations, but not as dramatically as the unions claim.
In one large low-income, predominantly minority Phoenix elementary school district, the superintendent successfully persuaded her teachers to invest in mutual funds instead of spending thousands of their hard-earned money every year on union dues. She realized that a powerful union would make it impossible for her to do anything about low achievement, a consequence of poor-performing teachers. Soon, the schools showed remarkable academic progress and the teachers were quite proud of what they had accomplished.
In a “right to work” state like Arizona, unions have to work diligently to build membership among teachers because no one can be forced to join. Thus, in order to gain support, the unions focus on salary, benefits, job-protection, and political action against anyone who disagrees with their union causes.
School boards and administrators are supposed to be a force of opposition to union control. Unfortunately, that seldom happens because unions themselves often handpick and fund the campaigns of those board candidates – whom they can count on to hire superintendents of the same mind.
Parents would be wise to seek out the dedicated teachers who realize that union policy has become detrimental to student success. Together, they could establish a better way – either through reform or total abolishment of teachers unions.
Johanna J. Haver is a retired teacher with 32 years of experience. She was a member of the Maricopa County Community College District board (2015-18) and has written three books, most recently Vindicated: Closing the Hispanic Achievement Gap Through English Immersion (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).
A growing number of parents of K-12 and high school students throughout the country have rebelled against the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) and “anti-racism” in public and private schools. The reasons for their alarm vary, and the rhetorical battles can be confusing, but it is not hard to get to the heart of parents’ objections.
They reject the presentation of our country, its history, its founding, its institutions and its present laws and practices as pervasively, uniformly, profoundly and irredeemably racist. Nor do they accept the corollary that all white Americans automatically enjoy illegitimate “white privilege”—and that they are to blame for every problem that people of color, especially blacks, experience today.
We think that these tenets are dubious at best. But in our opinion the most pernicious aspect of CRT instruction, from an educational perspective, is not its content, but the one-sided, dogmatic intolerance of any alternative point of view.
CRT banishes any classroom mention, let alone thoughtful discussion, of the full range of ideas about race currently articulated across the political spectrum. (The same thing is true in corporate America and at universities, where employees know better than to openly object to CRT’s rigid dogmas.) The CRT-approved story, in a nutshell, is that white racism is pervasive and accounts for all racial deficits and disparities. What is not being taught—what students are not exposed to, and not even allowed to hear—is the contrary position that persistent racial inequalities are oftentimes rooted in cultural differences and behavioral tendencies that are not all traceable to slavery or Jim Crow, and cannot all be solved by purging the vague category of “structural racism.”
In too many of our nation’s classrooms, children are being taught that everything should be seen through the lens of race—a divisive and damaging worldview that negates the value of the individual. Instead of reading our country’s founding documents, students are being told that America was founded on fundamentally hateful and intolerant ideas. And they’re learning that the American Dream isn’t really for everyone. What is a parent to do?
In a new paper released by the American Enterprise Institute, Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg shows that in order to truly put parents—and not bureaucrats—in control of kids’ education, more sunlight is the answer. And Goldwater is leading the effort to bring that sunlight to school districts across America, in the form of academic transparency.
To date, state lawmakers have dealt with the issue of politically charged classroom content by either doing nothing or banning certain curricula or materials. But neither path is sufficient to proactively root out political content in our schools. And neither path gives parents the power they need to make the best possible decisions regarding their children’s education.
Every American should be free to support nonprofit organizations they believe in without being harassed or intimidated. You would think this is obvious. But leave it to California’s former Attorney General, Kamala Harris, to trample on that freedom.
Back in 2010, Harris began ordering nonprofits that fundraise in the State of California to disclose the information of their major donors. Of course, the California government had no real need for this information. And, despite the fact that the state was required to keep donor names private, they were regularly leaked to the public.
There is likely no other intellectual today willing to write on the controversies in social science concerning human achievement with the courage and wisdom of Charles Murray.
Universities used to be the place where anything could be discussed and reasonable people could work out their disagreements with each other.
But the universities are now failed institutions and have become a crudeecho chamber for left wing views.They in fact became the conduit to inject discord into the greater society.
And outside of the university, the freedom to express controversial ideas has narrowed in the public square. Media monopolies routinely utilize shaming, book banning, boycotting and ‘canceling’ against those they disagree with. On the ground there is harassment and even physical assaults on those that disagree with the leftist narrative.Murray himself has been a victim of this.Hence, we regard him as courageous.