Archives for category: Race

In the past few years, we have seen the rise of something called the “parental rights” movement. This movement consists of angry white parents, mostly women, like “Moms for Liberty” and “Parents Defending Freedom,” who insist that they as parents have the “right” to decide what their children are taught in school and what books they read. They strenuously object to teaching about race and racism, which they say makes their children “uncomfortable.” They believe that teachers are “grooming” their children to be gay or transgender by teaching them about gender or sexuality. Of course, if the last were true, almost everyone would now be transgender, since most students have taken a sex-ed course at some point, focused mainly on health.

In response to the outcry from these groups, a number of states, led by Florida and Virginia, have passed laws they describe as “parental rights” laws, which ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” because they make students “uncomfortable.” The most “divisive” concept of all is “critical race theory,” which states ban. Since legislators don’t know what critical race theory is, their laws are meant to remove any teaching about race and racism from the curriculum.

Bottom line: only white parents have parental rights.

But what about Black parents? Do they have rights? Apparently not.

What about other parents who do not identify with angry white parents? Don’t their children have the right to learn an accurate history of the state, the U.S., and the world?

Why do Moms for Liberty get to define what all parents want?

Shouldn’t Black children learn about the history of race and racism?

Why shouldn’t all students learn accurate history, even if it makes them “uncomfortable”?

Why should a small subset of far-right fringe white parents get the power to censor what everyone else is taught and is allowed to read?

These “parental rights” laws are a paper-thin veneer for censorship, gag orders, lies and propaganda. They are the product of arrogant racists who can’t be bothered to hide their venomous racism.

They prefer ignorance to knowledge. They should not be allowed to impose their hateful ideology on others.

I will be a participant in a summer school program on Critical Race Theory. You are invited to sign up. I am part of the panel on July 20.

Greetings Friends and Colleagues, 

The African American Policy Forum is so excited to be Teaching Truth to Power this year at Critical Race Theory Summer School! It is crucial that we prepare racial justice advocates to defend the right to teach truth in classrooms. This powerful and urgent program runs July 18 to July 22, 2022. 

Seats are limited, so register here today! Events will be held daily between 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET throughout the week. Be sure to sign up for our listserv so that you don’t miss any updates. 

CRT Summer School 2022 will include a variety of plenaries, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities aimed to inform, activate, and inspire. We’re inviting parents, educators, students, social workers, legal practitioners, media professionals and concerned community members from all walks of life, because there is something for anyone to learn from the sheer breadth of options available this year! 

Daily Plenary Sessions

July 18 – Everyday CRT: A Commonsense Framework for Racial Liberation

July 19 – Public Schools, Private Agendas: How the Assault on Racial Justice Undermines Education

July 20 – Strange Bedfellows: The Left/Right Convergence that Enabled the Normalization of White Nationalism

July 21 – Define, Do Not Defend: How to Resist the Disinformation Campaign Against CRT

July 22 – Transforming a Moment to a Movement: Building A New Coalition to Secure our Multiracial Democracy

Discounts and Purchase Orders

Group sales (registration in increments of ten and five) are available and yield a 25% discount. For Purchase Orders please contact crt@aapf.org for more information.

Individual recipients of this email are eligible for a 10% discount using the following code during check-out: TSICAF-992000-IWANJ.

Full and partial scholarships are available. For more information visit our website: www.aapf.org/crtsummerschool.

On Demand Content

Great news! This year, all CRT Summer School content will be available to all registrants after the close of the event until Labor Day. You can watch anything you missed or revisit your favorites to ensure that you are a prepared racial justice advocate ready to defend the right to teach truth in schools.

We hope to see you at CRT-SS 2022! Please also share this email with your network – friends, colleagues, and constituents.

Onward,

African American Policy Forum

#TruthBeTold

Voters are not buying the phony claims of the candidates running on platforms against “critical race theory,” not even in conservative counties in Georgia. Thanks to Jennifer Berkshire for this story.

The Georgia Recorder reports on two elections:

Voters in Cherokee and Coweta counties rejected three school board candidates backed by a right-wing federal PAC Tuesday, following similar losses in last month’s primary.

It’s uncommon for political action committees to weigh in on local races, so voters were surprised to open up their mailboxes and find flyers from the 1776 Project PAC endorsing a slate of candidates ahead of the primary.

The PAC is a response to the 1619 Project, a New York Times initiative examining the lingering effects of slavery throughout U.S. history.

The 1619 Project; critical race theory; diversity, equity and inclusion and social and emotional learning have become rallying points for white, conservative parents who say their children are being made to feel guilty for racial injustice.

On its website, the committee describes itself as “dedicated to electing school board members nationwide who want to reform our public education system by promoting patriotism and pride in American history. We are committed to abolishing critical race theory and ‘The 1619 Project’ from the public school curriculum.”

Among the PAC’s endorsees were Cherokee County’s Sean Kaufman, a small business owner, and Ray Lynch, a physician.

Cherokee

The two previously teamed up with fellow 1776 Project endorsees Cam Waters, who works for the Georgia Association of Health Underwriters, and accountant Chris Gregory, styling themselves as 4CanDoMore, a slate for parents who “have been silenced, ignored and belittled.”

“With 4CanDoMore we can have a board majority that asks questions, a board that is transparent and unafraid, a board that reflects the family values of Cherokee County,” reads a statement on their website.

Their goal was to create a majority on the seven-member board to prevent policies they view as divisive, especially critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

The district had plans to hire Cecelia Lewis, a Black principal from Maryland to serve as its first diversity, equity and inclusion administrator, but she decided not to take the offer after watching a raucous meeting in which parents railed against her hiring.

The 4CanDoMore team offered Lewis’ planned hiring as evidence that the board did not consider the desires of parents.

Lewis has said she did not know what critical race theory was at the time and had no plans to incorporate it in her role. Cherokee County has never included the concept, which is typically reserved for higher-education graduate studies, in its curriculum, but the school board approved a resolution to ban it anyway. The state school board went on to impose its own ban on lessons teaching that the United States is racist, and Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill into law further banning “divisive concepts” regarding racial history. Teachers and administrators have largely said such measures were unnecessary.

Cherokee is a conservative county — nearly 70% of voters there chose Donald Trump in 2020, but their rejection of the 4CanDoMore squad suggests local issues can still trump national culture war arguments, said Jamie Chambers, a writer and Cherokee County resident who opposed the four candidates.

“In my area, Ray Lynch was running against Susan Padget-Harrison, and unlike him, where he came from out of state and was just kind of attacking, she has experience. She has been a teacher. She’s been involved with our school system for decades and has ties to our community,” he said. “And I think, ultimately, that’s the thing that carried the day with voters, people who were connected, that were actually talking about real issues within our schools and not just repeating talking points that don’t apply to us. While we live in a very conservative area, I don’t think that the kind of people who were protesting the hiring of Lewis, who were banging on the windows and doors of the superintendent’s office, those aren’t representative of the voters around here.”

Kaufman lost to Erin Ragsdale, a businesswoman and educator, and Lynch was defeated by Padgett-Harrison, a professor of education at Piedmont College.

In last month’s primary, Waters and Gregory were both defeated by incumbent board members by significant margins.

Coweta

In Coweta, incumbent school board member Linda Menk was ousted by baseball coach Rob DuBose, who received nearly 80% of the vote in the runoff.

Menk received calls for her resignation after she attended the Jan. 6, 2021 rally in Washington that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Critics also offered a list of insensitive and conspiratorial social media posts as evidence of her unfitness.

She also raised hackles on the board in 2019 for contacting the FBI, allegedly in an attempt to set up colleagues in a non-existent bid-rigging scandal.

Menk said she did not breach the Capitol and was simply expressing her First Amendment right to protest.

She offered no apologies in a school board meeting days after the riot.

“It was not sedition, it was not insurrection,” she said. “I attended a very peaceful rally, one of the most meaningful things that I actually had the privilege of engaging in was a large percentage of the attendees were there who had escaped communist China and had emigrated to this country, and the stories that they told me, basically, the United States was the last hope, it was the last place that they had to go.”

At the same meeting, then-board chair Amy Dees castigated Menk for distracting from the job of supporting students.

“We do have First Amendment rights as board members, but as an elected official, there are consequences for what we post and say,” she said. “Tonight, three board members took an oath of office. That oath of office means something, it means something to me. I uphold that with the utmost of integrity. It saddens me that we are here again and again and again, and it seems to me, Miss Menk, that you’re in the center of that.”

Other Coweta candidates endorsed by the 1776 Project PAC, Maxwell Britton, Megan Smith and Cory Gambardella, fell to board incumbents in the May primary.

ProPublica wrote about a campaign to destroy the reputation of a black educator and their pursuit of her to another district. The white agitators accused her of being an advocate of “critical race theory,” but she didn’t know what it was. That didn’t deter the vigilantes.

In April of 2021, Cecelia Lewis had just returned to Maryland from a house-hunting trip in Georgia when she received the first red flag about her new job.

The trip itself had gone well. Lewis and her husband had settled on a rental home in Woodstock, a small city with a charming downtown and a regular presence on best places to live lists. It was a short drive to her soon-to-be office at the Cherokee County School District and less than a half hour to her husband’s new corporate assignment. While the north Georgia county was new to the couple, the Atlanta area was not. They’d visited several times in recent years to see their son, who attended Georgia Tech.

Lewis, a middle school principal, initially applied for a position that would bring her closer to the classroom as a coach for teachers. But district leaders were so impressed by her interview that they encouraged her to apply instead for a new opening they’d created: their first administrator focused on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives…

At first, the scope of the role gave Lewis pause. In her current district, these responsibilities were split among several people, and she’d never held a position dedicated to anything as specific as that before. But she had served on the District Equity Leadership Team in her Maryland county and felt prepared for this new challenge. She believed the job would allow her, as she put it, to analyze the district’s “systemic and instructional practices” in order to better support “the whole child.”

“We’re so excited to add Cecelia to the CCSD family,” Superintendent Brian Hightower said in the district’s March 2021 announcement about all of its new hires. (The announcement noted that the creation of the DEI administrator role “stems from input from parents, employees and students of color who are serving on Dr. Hightower’s ad hoc committees formed this school year to focus on the topic.”) Hightower acknowledged “both her impressive credentials and enthusiasm for the role” and pointed out that, “In four days, she had a DEI action plan for us.”

But then a group of white parents decided that Lewis planned to bring “critical race theory” to their district. And they decided to hound her out of her job and out of Georgia.

Colbert I. King, a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote recently about the acknowledgement by various institutions about their role in perpetuating slavery. Harvard University was the most recent example. King says that not enough attention has been paid to the sexual exploitation of slave women. As we reflect on the current Republican obsession with banning teaching about racism and accusing teachers of pedophilia, think of the following story. Who were the most dangerous pedophiles in American history?

King writes:

This soul-searching may well help the nation come to terms with its past. But an examination of racist cruelty in 18th and 19th-century America cannot stop with the failings of public and private institutions.

No probe into the corrosive effects of racial bondage can be complete without coming to grips with, besides slavery itself, the single most heinous crime against humanity committed in the annals of U.S. history: the centuries-long sexual exploitation and subjugation of Black women and girls….

How many black women and girls were sexually exploited?

The 1860 federal census provides a clue. In Southern or slaveholding states, and in Northern states respectively, 518,360 and 69,885 people were classified as “mulattoes.”

Then King refers to a relationship that was revealed almost a decade ago. I did not read about it then.

A 22-year-old White South Carolinian who impregnated a 16-year-old Black maid in his father’s house also comes to mind. He, Strom Thurmond, avowed segregationist, Dixiecrat presidential candidate and staunch opponent of civil rights legislation, went to his grave without saying a word about what he did to that teenager. As did hundreds if not thousands of White men before him.

King links to an article that tells the story of Thurmond’s never-acknowledged black daughter. It was written by journalist Mary C. Curtis and published in the Washington Post in 2013.

Essie Mae Washington-Williams lived for 87 years. But, in her own words, she was never “completely free” until she could stand before the world and say out loud that Strom Thurmond, the one-time segregationist South Carolina senator, was her father. That was in 2003, after she had spent more than 70 years being denied what we all deserve – her true name and birthright. “In a way, my life began at 78, at least my life as who I really was,” Washington-Williams wrote in her life story. She has died.

Thurmond’s oldest child — born when he was a 22-year-old man and her mother, Carrie Butler, a 16-year-old black maid in his father’s house – had kept the senator’s secret, an open one rumored about but never revealed when he was alive because, she had said, “He trusted me, and I respected him.” As in the case of Thomas Jefferson, another successful southern politician who was father to black children, stories shared among African Americans were long disbelieved until they turned out to be true….

She remained silent even as he did his best to block civil rights legislation and uphold white supremacy. She and her mother occasionally visited Thurmond’s law office. He sometimes gave her money. But he never gave her his name.

In 2003, she could finally stop holding her breath and tell her truth. The Thurmond family didn’t dispute her, and her name was added to the list of children on a monument for the senator on the grounds of the South Carolina state house, joining the Confederate flag, a monument to the contributions of African Americans and statues honoring segregationists who did their worst but could not stop Washington-Williams from achieving.

Wanda Bailey, Washington-Williams’ daughter, said in The State newspaper that her mother was an inspiration. “She was there for us,” Bailey said. “She was a very giving person. She did everything she could not only for her children, but her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

In that, she proved a better person than the man who spent his own life denying her. I wonder if she was smiling a few years ago when she said she would become a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy through Thurmond’s ancestral lines.

Facing internal conflicts most could only imagine, she became a mother, wife, teacher, and a daughter that Strom Thurmond or any father could be proud of.

South Carolina journalist Marilyn Thompson was credited with breaking the story of Strom Thurmond’s biracial daughter.

In New York State, a court determined that the state’s congressional districts were gerrymandered in favor of Democrats. The special master appointed by the court drew new districts that dilutes the black vote and negatively affects Congressman Jamaal Bowman, one of the state’s most progressive members of Congress. The redistricting might lead to a primary between Bowman and Rep. Mondaire Jones, who is also Black. That would mean the loss of a Black member of Congress. The redistricting is weighted towards helping Republican candidates.

The New York Times writes that the new map is likely to create seats for Republicans.

The new lines even cast the future of several long-tenured, powerful Democratic incumbents in doubt, forcing several to potentially run against one another.

The most striking example came from New York City, where Mr. Cervas’s proposal pushed Representatives Jerrold Nadler, a stalwart Upper West Side liberal, and Carolyn Maloney of the Upper East Side into the same district, setting up a potentially explosive primary fight in the heart of Manhattan. Both lawmakers are in their 70s, have been in Congress for close to 30 years and lead powerful House committees.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a favorite to become the party’s next leader, was one of a handful of incumbent lawmakers who, under the new map, would no longer reside in the districts they represent. In one case, the new lines put Representative Brian Higgins mere steps outside his greater Buffalo district.

Taken together, the proposed changes have broad national implications, effectively handing Republicans the upper hand in a national fight for control of the House, and rattling the top echelons of House Democratic leadership…

In a blistering statement, Mr. Jeffries accused the court of ignoring the input of communities of color, diluting the power of Black voters and pitting Black incumbents against each other in “a tactic that would make Jim Crow blush.”

One of my friends, Jamaal Bowman, has been imperiled by the redistricting. His office issued this statement:

For Immediate Release
Date: May 17, 2022
Contact
press@bowmanforcongress.com


STATEMENT: Rep. Jamaal Bowman Responds to Proposed District Map that Decreases the NY-16 Black Voter Population by 17%
 

YONKERS, NY – Yesterday a court filing unveiled the newly redrawn congressional districts in New York City. The new maps, which were drawn by court-appointed Special Master Jonathan Cervas but are not yet final, change the 16th Congressional District to remove much of the Bronx, decreasing the Black voter population by about 17%. In response, Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) released this statement:

“The whole point of redistricting is to create congressional districts that keep communities of interest together. Unfortunately, the map created by the special master splits NY-16’s historically low-income Bronx communities into three congressional districts and decreases the Black voter population by 17%. This occurred despite an outpouring of testimony urging redistricting officials to protect the Black vote by keeping the northeast Bronx with lower Westchester together. The proposal shows that Co-Op City is mapped into NY-14, Williamsbridge and Baychester into NY-15 and Edenwald kept in NY-16. The map data shows that this directly resulted in the Black voter population declining by 17%. Co-Op City, Williamsbrige, and Edenwald are strong communities of interest that must remain together as a unity and connected to lower Westchester. The Black voting power in NY-16 cannot be diluted in favor of more compact but less fair maps.

“Edenwald in the Bronx is home to the third-largest public housing community in New York State and one of the largest in the country. The Edenwald community is a vulnerable community that is separated in this proposed map from the other densely populated majority Black communities like Co-Op City, Williamsbridge, and Baychester, whose voting power helps protect these communities’ specific needs around housing, public safety, and poverty alleviation. Similarly, Co-Op city is the largest naturally occurring retirement community in the country predominantly populated by lower-income and Black seniors. By splitting these communities, the map further alienates them and perpetuates the opportunity for further historical neglect by the electoral system. These are communities who have been kept together in maps for decades for good reason and with good intention. Their voting power is directly tied to their lives and they deserve a fair chance at electing representatives that take their unique needs into full consideration.

“Now, I only have one message for NY-16: I will continue fighting for you, and I will fight to continue to represent you. I also hope that voters continue to have their voices heard in every elected official that represents them as I intend to continue and advocate for their needs and the needs of every person in NY-16.”   

About Jamaal Bowman
Congressman Jamaal Bowman was an educator and advocate for public schools for over 20 years and previously served as principal for the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA), a public middle school he founded in 2009 in the Baychester neighborhood of The Bronx. Rep. Bowman is a life-long New Yorker who lives in Yonkers with his wife and children.

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Jan Resseger, now retired, spent her career as an activist for social justice. Her recent essay was reposted by the Network for Public Education. It seemed appropriate to post it on the 68th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision of 1954. In trying to assess the meager progress towards the ideals of Brown—specifically, equality of educational opportunity—she lays some of the blame on No Child Left Behind and the corporate school reform movement,

Jan Resseger attended the recent Network for Public Education conference, where she took inspiration from speaker Jitu Brown, director of the Journey for Justice Alliance. Reposted with permission.

She wrote:

A highlight of the Network for Public Education’s recent national conference was the keynote from Jitu Brown, a gifted and dedicated Chicago community organizer and the national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance. His remarks made me think about the meaning of the last two decades of corporate school reform and the conditions today in his city and here where I live in greater Cleveland, Ohio. It is a sad story.

Brown reflected on his childhood experience at a West Side Chicago elementary school, a place where he remembers being exposed to a wide range of information and experience including the study of a foreign language. He wondered, “Why did we have good neighborhood schools when I went to school but our kids don’t have them anymore? For children in poor neighborhoods, their education is not better.”

Brown described how No Child Left Behind’s basic drilling and test prep in the two subjects for which NCLB demands testing—math and language arts—eat up up more and more of the school day. We can consult Harvard University expert on testing, Daniel Koretz, for the details about why the testing regime has been particularly hard on children in schools where poverty is concentrated: “Inappropriate test preparation… is more severe in some places than in others. Teachers of high-achieving students have less reason to indulge in bad preparation for high-stakes tests because the majority of their students will score adequately without it—in particular, above the ‘proficient’ cut score that counts for accountability purposes. So one would expect that test preparation would be a more severe problem in schools serving high concentrations of disadvantaged students, and it is.” (The Testing Charade, pp. 116-117)

Of course, a narrowed curriculum is only one factor in today’s inequity. Derek W. Black and Axton Crolley explain: “(A) 2018 report revealed, school districts enrolling ‘the most students of color receive about $1,800 or 13% less per student’ than districts serving the fewest students of color… Most school funding gaps have a simple explanation: Public school budgets rely heavily on local property taxes. Communities with low property values can tax themselves at much higher rates than others but still fail to generate anywhere near the same level of resources as other communities. In fact, in 46 of 50 states, local school funding schemes drive more resources to middle-income students than poor students.”

Again and again in his recent keynote address, Jitu Brown described the consequences of Chicago’s experiment with corporate accountability-based school reform. Chicago is a city still coping with the effect of the closure of 50 neighborhood schools in June of 2013—part of the collateral damage of the Renaissance 2010 charter school expansion—a portfolio school reform program administered by Arne Duncan to open charter schools and close neighborhood schools deemed “failing,” as measured by standardized test scores. On top of the charter expansion, Chicago instituted student-based-budgeting, which has trapped a number of Chicago public schools in a downward spiral as students experiment with charter schools and as enrollment diminishes, both of which spawn staffing and program cuts and put the school on a path toward closure.

As Jitu Brown reflected on his inspiring elementary school experience a long time ago, I thought about a moving recent article by Carolyn Cooper, a long time resident of Cleveland, Ohio’s East Glenville neighborhood: “I received a stellar education in elementary, junior high, and high school from the… Cleveland Public School system… All of the schools I attended were within walking distance, or only a few miles from my home. And at Iowa-Maple Elementary School, a K-6 school at the time, I was able to join the French Club and study abroad for months in both Paris and Lyon, France… Flash forward to this present day… To fight the closure of both Iowa-Maple and Collinwood High School, a few alumni attended a school facilities meeting held in October 2019 at Glenville High School… Despite our best efforts, Collinwood remained open but Iowa-Maple still closed down… Several generations of my family, as well as the families of other people who lived on my street, were alumni there. I felt it should have remained open because it was a 5-Star school, offering a variety of programs including gifted and advanced courses, special education, preschool offerings, and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).”

In his keynote address last week, Jitu Brown explained: “Justice and opportunity depend on the institutions to which children have access.” Brown’s words brought to my mind another part of Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood less than a mile from Iowa-Maple Elementary School. If you drive along Lakeview Road between Superior and St. Clair Avenues, you see a neighborhood with older homes of a size comfortable for families and scattered newer rental housing built about twenty years ago with support from tax credits. You also see many empty lots where houses were abandoned and later demolished in the years following the 2008 foreclosure crisis. Separated by several blocks, you pass two large weedy tracts of land which were once the sites of two different public elementary schools—abandoned by the school district and boarded up for years before they were demolished. You pass by a convenience store surrounded by cracked asphalt and gravel. Finally you pass a dilapidated, abandoned nursing home which for several years housed the Virtual Schoolhouse, a charter school that advertised on the back of Regional Transit Authority buses until it shut down in 2018.

My children went to school in Cleveland Heights, only a couple of miles from Glenville. Cleveland Heights-University Heights is a mixed income, racially integrated, majority African American, inner-ring suburban school district. Our children can walk to neighborhood public schools that are a great source of community pride. Our community is not wealthy, but we have managed to pass our school levies to support our children with strong academics. We recently passed a bond issue to update and repair our old high school, where my children had the opportunity to play in a symphony orchestra, and play sports in addition to the excellent academic program.

Jitu Brown helped organize and lead the 2015 Dyett Hunger Strike, which forced the Chicago Public Schools to reopen a shuttered South Side Chicago high school. Brown does not believe that charter schools and vouchers are the way to increase opportunity for children in places like Chicago’s South and West Sides and Cleveland’s Glenville and Collinwood neighborhoods. He explains: “When you go to a middle-class white community you don’t see charter schools…. You see effective, K-12 systems of education in their neighborhoods. Our children deserve the same.”

In the powerful final essay in the new book, Public Education: Defending a Cornerstone of American Democracy, Bill Ayers, a retired professor of education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, agrees with Jitu Brown about what ought to be the promise of public education for every child in America:

“Let’s move forward guided by an unshakable first principle: Public education is a human right and a basic community responsibility… Every child has the right to a free, high-quality education. A decent, generously staffed school facility must be in easy reach for every family… What the most privileged parents have for their public school children right now—small class sizes, fully trained and well compensated teachers, physics and chemistry labs, sports teams, physical education and athletic fields and gymnasiums, after-school and summer programs, generous arts programs that include music, theater, and fine arts—is the baseline for what we want for all children.” (Public Education: Defending a Cornerstone of American Democracy, pp. 314-315) (emphasis in the original)

Only one publisher met all of Florida’s requirements for K-5 math textbooks.

The winner was Houston-based Accelerate Learning.

The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, acquired Accelerate Learning on Dec. 20, 2018, according to the firm’s website.

During that time, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was the co-CEO of the firm. After 25 years with the company, Youngkin resigned in 2020 to run for office in Virginia.

The first thing Youngkin did as governor of Virginia was sign an executive order to “end the use of inherently divisive concepts, including critical race theory, and restoring excellence in K-12 public education in the commonwealth,” a measure that’s comparable to DeSantis’ “Stop WOKE Act.”

The story reviewed Accelerate’s website and learned the following:

Accelerate Learning’s website includes an undated diversity statement which says the company commits to hold more diversity training, examine current business and recruitment practices and continue to be inclusive in all levels of the company.

“Our nation’s black communities have long faced the repeated, harmful effects of systemic racism within the justice and education systems,” the statement said.

The company also matched all employee donations to the NAACP, Black Lives Matter and Equal Justice organizations.

“Accelerate Learning, Inc. is committed to supporting diversity in all its manifestations, which requires a consequent commitment to equity and inclusivity,” the statement said.

Sounds like the winner of the math textbook competition is woke and espouses critical race theory.

The Oklahoma legislature just passed a bill guaranteeing the free speech rights of professors and students in Oklahoma higher education. It has been sent to Governor Kevin Stitt for his signature.

The sponsor of HB 3543, Rep. Chad Caldwell, (R)-Enid, said the goal is to protect students who may not have the same viewpoints as their classmates and professors.

“We shouldn’t have a professor worried about getting fired if they say this or that,” Rep. Caldwell said. “We shouldn’t have a student that has to worry about, if I don’t take a Republican view or a liberal view that I’m going to get an ‘F’ on a paper. That shouldn’t be something that’s going on at any of our colleges or universities.”

The legislature apparently forgot that they banned the teaching of “critical race theory” in 2021 and discouraged teaching the facts about the horrific Tulsa Massacre. Kathryn Schumaker, the Edith Kinney Gaylord presidential professor in the department of classics and letters at the University of Oklahoma, wrote at the time that the law banning discussion of racism would make it impossible to teach history honestly on campus.

She wrote in The Washington Post:

The law is aimed at eradicating the supposed scourge of critical race theory (CRT) from state classrooms and campuses, a cause that has become a right-wing talking point over the course of the past few months. Oklahoma educators and academics have denounced the law, noting that it will deter teachers from discussing Oklahoma’s fraught racial past of Native American dispossession, lynching and racial terror.

For example, as we mark the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre in late May, state political leaders are making it clear that they would like Oklahomans to leave the past behind. In 2001, a state commission report called for reparations and public recognition of the legacy of the massacre. But this new law undermines efforts to reckon with our collective past, and it will chill classroom discussions of this history. H.B. 1775 instructs educators to emphasize that although the perpetrators of the Tulsa Race Massacre did bad things, their actions do not shape the world we live in — even though White rioters murdered scores of Black Tulsans and destroyed more than 1,200 buildings in the Black Greenwood neighborhood, annihilating decades of accumulated Black wealth.

Meanwhile, a seventh-grade science teacher at Jenks Middle School was fired for refusing to remove a rainbow-colored flag from a display of flags in his classroom.

Oklahoma suffers from a severe case of schizophrhrenia or hypocrisy.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the free speech law is used to defend teaching critical race theory in higher education.

Thanks to John Thompson of Oklahoma for the updates from his state.

Stephanie Saul is a crack investigative reporter at the New York Times. In this story, she took a close look at Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s request to ultra conservative Hillsdale College to open 50 charter schools in Tennessee.

She begins:

With only 1,500 students on a small-town campus in southern Michigan, Hillsdale College is far from the power corridors of government and top-ranked universities.

But it has outsize influence in the conservative world, with strong ties to the Washington elite. Republican leaders frequently visit, and Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the 2016 commencement address, calling Hillsdale a “shining city on a hill” for its devotion to “liberty as an antecedent of government, not a benefit from government.”

Now the college is making new efforts to reach beyond its campus, this time with an even younger audience. The college is fighting what it calls “progressive” and “leftist academics” by expanding its footprint in the charter school world, pushing the boundaries on the use of taxpayer money for politically tinged education.

Hillsdale has ambitious plans to add to its network of classical public charter schools, which focus on “the centrality of the Western tradition.” And Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee recently invited the college to start 50 schools using public funds, including $32 million set aside for charter facilities. Hillsdale’s network currently includes 24 schools in 13 states.

Mr. Lee, a Republican, sees his new charter school expansion as part of an effort to develop what he called “informed patriotism” in Tennessee students.

“For decades, Hillsdale College has been the standard-bearer in quality curriculum and in the responsibility of preserving American liberty,” Mr. Lee told lawmakers recently. “I believe their efforts are a good fit for Tennessee.”

Charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, have been more commonly promoted as alternatives to low-performing schools in urban centers. In Tennessee, they have been clustered in the state’s four biggest cities, where like other charters, they have been criticized for siphoning money and students out of more traditional public schools.

Mr. Lee’s plan envisions an expansion into suburban and rural areas where, like many Hillsdale charter schools, they would most likely enroll children who are whiter and more affluent than the average charter school pupil.

In that way, the Hillsdale schools could be something of a publicly funded off-ramp for conservative parents who think their local schools misinterpret history and push a socially progressive agenda on issues from race and diversity to sexuality and gender.

The college has also developed the “1776 Curriculum,” which sets out to portray America as “an exceptionally good country.” During a time when education has become inflamed by divisive cultural debates, Hillsdale has been criticized for its glossy spin on American history as well as its ideological tilt on topics like affirmative action. Educators and historians have also raised questions about other instruction at Hillsdale’s charter schools, citing their negative take on the New Deal and the Great Society and cursory presentation of global warming.

In that way, the Hillsdale schools could be something of a publicly funded off-ramp for conservative parents who think their local schools misinterpret history and push a socially progressive agenda on issues from race and diversity to sexuality and gender.

“I’ve been following charter schools over the last 25 years, and I’ve never seen a governor attempting to use charters in such an overtly political way,” said Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. “You’ve had governors who’ve encouraged the growth of charters to provide more high-quality options for parents, but it’s highly unusual to see a governor deploy the charter mechanism for admittedly political purposes.”

The article goes on at length to describe the Hillsdale curriculum, which is politically conservative , and the demographics of its charter schools, which are disproportionately white.

She adds:

The students [at Atlanta Classical Academy] are selected through a citywide lottery, but the school’s location in affluent Buckhead may deter some applicants. In a city where 73 percent of public school students are Black and 17 percent white, Atlanta Classical Academy is the mirror image: 17 percent Black and 71 percent white, according to a 2020 state report.

Overall, Hillsdale’s charter school racial demographics are close to that of the Atlanta Classical students. That is a departure from charter schools nationally, which are about 30 percent white.

“They’re catering to white families and affluent families,” said Charisse Gulosino, an associate professor of leadership and policy studies at the University of Memphis, whose research has found that students in suburban charter schools do not outperform their public school counterparts.

Not all of Hillsdale’s charter school collaborations have been successful. Hillsdale recently announced it is ending ties with Tallahassee Classical School in Florida.

The school, approved by the state despite local opposition, set out to serve a diverse student body. But two teachers interviewed by The Times said they suspected that the school was trying to jettison low-performing students, a tactic that charter schools have been accused of as a way to increase test scores.

Try to find the full story. It shows how unregulated charter schools can be turned into white flight academies teaching a Trumpian version of history and science.