As we reach the one-year anniversary of the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a second pandemic of sorts has infected our public and private K-12 schools. It is the increasingly widespread introduction of “Critical Race Theory” into our elementary and secondary grades. There is no vaccine for this infection. The only cure will be the concerted efforts of enough parents willing to take a public stand and yell, “Stop!”
The attention to CRT indoctrination has largely focused on describing the paradigm shift in our schools’ “mission” from providing our children with a broad-based education intended to fan the spark of learning in each of them as individuals to one of “anti-racism” in which, as one widely quoted parent has said, “It’s just about skin color now.” The competing missions are no longer between the old and new curricula—the CRT proponents within both the individual schools and the larger local and state departments of education have already won the initial battles. The mission that matters now belongs to the parents who must decide whether they or the progressive forces that have taken over our schools will teach their children how to think.
Critical Race Theory is the claim that all American legal, economic, and social institutions—including constitutional law, capitalism, education, even rationalism, and the nuclear family—are founded upon race. It further asserts that “whites” constructed these institutions expressly to maintain their supremacy. This in turn has led to systemic racism, which alone accounts for the disparities in social and economic outcomes between different racial groups.
No longer is it sufficient to judge individuals by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin. CRT stands for the exact opposite—to be actively anti-racist requires you to focus on racial identity above all else.
Furthermore, contrary to the racist atrocities in the south and elsewhere that those of us of a certain age recall seeing on television during the civil rights movement of the ‘60s, systemic racism has morphed into “implicit bias” that exists in all whites and in “multi-racial whites” simply by virtue of race. No longer is it sufficient to judge individuals by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin. CRT stands for the exact opposite—to be actively anti-racist requires you to focus on racial identity above all else.
The adoption of this agenda by both public and private schools has been widespread. Most recently, controversy reached the boiling point at New York’s prestigious K-12 Dalton School. A group of anonymous parents penned an “Open Letter” to Dalton decrying the school’s shift from its proven successful approach to teaching and learning in favor of an “anti-racist curriculum” in which the administration has pledged “allegiance to a new ideology that is untested, and worse yet, untestable.”
The Dalton parents point out that the curriculum in every class, “from science to social studies to physical education,” has been rewritten with an obsessive focus on race and identity, such as “racist cop” reenactments in science and “decentering whiteness” in art class. They explain that this new ideology is extremely exclusionary to “those who choose not to make their racial identity the centerpiece of their family life or their children’s education.” Furthermore, lest anyone dismiss the parents as unaware of what is happening in the classroom, they note that due to the pandemic their homes have actually become the classroom, and they have heard the “pessimistic and age-inappropriate litany of grievances in every class.”
The situation is no different in public schools. During the summer of 2020, California’s State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond explained that they intend to build a training module through which school districts can train educators on “implicit bias.” Of particular concern is that Thurmond also announced that they would partner with the National Equity Project in this new training.
What can California families expect from a partnership with the NEP? A quick glance at their website pretty much tells us the direction their training of California’s teachers will take. Up front and center, the NEP asserts that the current education system “perpetuates inequity by design” because, among other reasons, it was “not created to produce equal outcomes or experiences for everyone.” Consistent with Critical Race Theory, the NEP declares that the current education system is one that is deliberately oppressive and dehumanizing and is actually intended to reinforce the marginalization of certain groups.
The NEP’s position would likely come as a surprise to most California public school teachers who come to work each day intending to provide their students with the best possible learning experience. One can only imagine how many teachers will wonder why they even bother when they are accused of oppression and dehumanization because their efforts do not produce equal outcomes among their students.
Whether one is a parent paying over $50,000 per year to send their first grader to Dalton or has enrolled their child in a neighborhood public school in San Diego, the fundamental question is: Whose hand do you want rocking your child’s cradle? Yours, or that of the NEP or some similar organization? The answer is critically important because it will ultimately determine what your child learns and the sort of adult she becomes.
Arthur Willner is a trial and appellate attorney in Los Angeles handling campus First Amendment and due process cases.