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 teacher’s 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 $127,000 addition to normal operating funds to push CRT. More ominously, this allocation includes 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?
Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute.