Two weeks ago, President Trump issued an executive order to root out critical race theory “trainings” from federal government agencies. Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, explained that “these types of ‘trainings’ not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce.”
CNN anchor Brian Stelter credited City Journal contributing editor Christopher Rufo for bringing this issue to the administration’s attention through his investigative journalism, featured prominently on Tucker Carlson Tonight. Working with whistleblowers, Rufo documented that NASA spent half a million dollars on “power and privilege sexual education workshops,” that the FBI was holding weekly “intersectionality” workshops, and that Sandia National Laboratories, which designs America’s nuclear weapons, held a three-day reeducation camp to deconstruct “white male culture.”
Cancelling these conferences, workshops, and seminars is an overdue and salutary step, but a more formidable task lies ahead: rooting out identity-politics propaganda from America’s public schools.
Exposing the problem is the easy part. Some school districts have become proud indoctrination factories. Take just one example, featured yesterday on Tucker Carlson’s show: the Buffalo Public Schools’ (BPS) Black Lives Matter (BLM) curriculum.
The curriculum takes as a starting point that the purpose of American public education is to recruit students into the BLM movement. The first lesson plan for BPS’s “First Days of School” sequence for second-, third-, and fourth-graders asks the “essential question”: “What is the Black Lives Matter Movement and what is our role in it?” The second lesson, titled “Do Black Lives Matter in America?” states as its objective that “students will be able to understand the need for the Black Lives Matter Movement.”
Despite months of nonstop commercial endorsement by some of the largest corporations in the United States, public opinion on BLM remains divided, as many Americans are uneasy about the more extreme elements of the movement’s platform. But BPS is teaching BLM’s most radical idea, telling fifth-grade students: “We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” At the end of that lesson, students are asked: “What do you think about our society being organized into separate, nuclear family units?”
After second-graders read “The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet,” they are directed to write “pledge cards” vowing to speak up when they see injustice and then scripted to discuss “Colin Kaepernick who refused to be silent about discrimination against Black people.”
Lesson objectives for fifth- and sixth-grade students include “identify misconceptions about Christopher Columbus” and “explain why the US should celebrate Indigenous People’s Day.” Seventh- and eighth-grade students receive a lesson titled “Think About It George Washington: The Beginnings of 273 Years of Hypocrisy in America.”
Middle school students are invited to solve the conundrum that stumped Socrates and his interlocuters—“What is Justice?”—with a discussion framed by the following questions: “How would you classify the ideas held and applied about justice in Western society (punitive)?” and “How would you classify the ideas held and applied about justice in Traditional societies (restorative/empathetic)?”
In high school, students learn about “Confronting Whiteness in Our Classrooms,” with lessons on “white privilege” taken from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and are guided through units of the New York Times’s 1619 Project.
At the height of this summer’s riots, 1619 Project lead author Nikole Hannah-Jones said, in a since-deleted tweet, that she would consider it an honor if they were called the “1619 Riots.” BPS’s curriculum contains a two-day unit for high school juniors and seniors that appears designed to express similar moral approbation regarding the riots—not just the peaceful protests, the riots. The lesson suggests that students reflect on the difference between peaceful protest and rioting and then asks, with stunning yet unsurprising civic illiteracy: “Why would someone engaging in rioting be protected under the First Amendment?”
Parents may wonder how our public schools became propaganda mills. The answer, to paraphrase Hemingway, is two ways: gradually, then suddenly. Critical race theory was largely pioneered in U.S. schools of education; a generation of teachers has been trained in its toxic assumptions. Then, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, a host of major education trade associations publicly vowed to imprint this ideology onto the next generation.
This is not a situation easily remedied by presidential executive order. Though the Trump Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights could issue a Dear Colleague Letter warning schools against teaching lessons that explicitly denigrate white students on the basis of their race, the federal government is not in a position to police the curricula of America’s 100,000 public schools.
It will be up to parents to watch closely what their children are being taught and to petition their school board when schools cross the line between education and indoctrination. Unfortunately, to the extent that school administrators have genuinely absorbed critical race ideology, they will dismiss objections to their “anti-racist” curriculum as motivated by racism. We may soon reach a point where parents who want their children to grow up to be well-informed and open-minded citizens may have little choice but to withdraw them from American public schools.
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