On June 30, members of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, voted to approve a plan to promote critical race theory in all 50 states. Union delegates representing 3 million public school employees approved funding for three separate items related to “increasing the implementation” of “critical race theory” in K-12 curricula; promoting critical race theory in 14,000 local school districts; and attacking opponents of critical race theory, including parent organizations and conservative research centers.
The public vote represents a significant strategic pivot. For the past month, many liberal pundits and activists have insisted that critical race theory is not taught in K-12 schools. This was always a bad-faith claim; the ideology has made inroads in public schools for more than a decade. But the NEA’s official endorsement puts the final nail in the coffin of this rhetorical dodge.
In the resolution, the union agreed publicly to “convey its support” for critical race theory, oppose restrictions in state legislatures, and use schools to promote political activism. The delegates pledged to “join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project” to hold a “national day of action” on George Floyd’s birthday, recruiting teachers to hold political demonstrations and “teach lessons about structural racism and oppression.”
The resolution also promised to develop a study to critique “empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, [and] anthropocentrism”—that is, adapting the most fashionable and intellectually bankrupt ideas from the universities for use in grade school classrooms.
Finally, the NEA passed a resolution to “research the organizations” that oppose critical race theory—including grassroots parent organizations—and provide resources to groups and individuals targeting them. The national teachers’ union will use union dues, collected from public employees paid by taxpayers, to attack parents who oppose the racial indoctrination of their children.
Yet we might thank the NEA for one thing. Its new militant stance on critical race theory provides much-needed clarity to the debate on this issue. Progressives such as MSNBC host Joy Reid can no longer disingenuously claim that critical race theory is only taught in law schools or is only a “lens” for examining American history. The teachers’ union has nationalized critical race theory and committed to the full range of left-wing radicalism, including opposition to “capitalism” and “anthropocentrism.”
Moving forward, the question is now clear: Who should decide what happens in public schools—parents, voters, and state legislatures, or the national teachers’ union and its allies in the public school bureaucracy?
Fortunately, the American people aren’t ready to cede their authority to left-wing ideologues masquerading as educators. According to a recent YouGov survey, 58 percent of Americans who have heard of critical race theory and “have a good idea of what it is” have an unfavorable view of it—and 55 percent of this group, including 72 percent of independents, believe that teaching it in schools is “bad for America.” The parents who are standing up and speaking out in local school boards across the country understand that critical race theory is ideological poison, and more are joining their ranks every day.