Archives for category: Race

Stephen Dyer is a former state legislator in Ohio and an expert on school finance. In the latest post on his blog, 10th Period, he shows why the arguments for vouchers are a fraud. Vouchers are sold as a salvation for Black and Hispanic students, yet they mostly subsidize white children escaping desegregated schools. And while they are sold with the promise of improving student performance, the voucher schools are in fact inferior to public schools. They are not the schools that rich parents pay for; most voucher schools are low-quality religious schools with unqualified teachers.

Dyer begins:

Now that a group of 100 school districts have formally sued the state over the EdChoice Voucher program, it’s time for voucher proponents to trot out their favorite canard — vouchers give students of color opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. And to oppose vouchers is to oppose opportunities for students of color.

Total crock.

The reason this canard is so pernicious is simple: It’s not true, and in fact, the opposite is true. Vouchers are disproportionately distributed to white students, leading to greater overall segregation in public school districts and communities of color with substantially fewer state resources to educate students in those communities.

This is the stat that voucher proponents love to quote, and it’s what Greg Lawson (a guy I actually like personally, despite our profound policy differences on this and nearly every issue) from the Buckeye Institute articulated in the Dispatch story yesterday:

“Greg Lawson of the Buckeye Institute said the data on who takes vouchers varies from school to school, but overall more minority students use EdChoice. 

Ohio is about 82% white, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. But 50% of the students who take an EdChoice scholarship identify as white or non-Hispanic, according to the Ohio Department of Education. 

‘The choice is there for everybody regardless of what demographic box they check,’ Lawson said.”

What Greg and others “forget” is that EdChoice doesn’t apply to every school district in the state. In fact, according to data from last school year, only 164 of Ohio’s 613 school districts lost any state funding to the EdChoice Voucher transfer last year — a $164 million deduction from districts’ state aid. However, 95% of that funding came from just 38 school districts. Want to take a gander at the demographic makeup of those 38 districts? You guessed it. Overwhelmingly non-white. How overwhelmingly?

Try 68% non-white.

Sounds a whole lot different from the 82% white stat Greg mentioned, doesn’t it? In fact, of those 38 districts, only Wilmington was close to the 82% white stat.

Why would he try to repeat the 82% stat when only 1 district in the entire state that loses substantial state aid to EdChoice fits that description?

Because if only 50% of the voucher recipients are non-white, yet the communities from which the students come are almost 70% non-white, it kinda kills the whole “giving people of color an opportunity” argument.

Yeah….

Seems that for more than 20 years now, legislators have known that vouchers are disproportionately going to white students, yet they have done nothing to address this. 

Someone might want to ask them about that.

Oh yeah. One more thing. It was interesting to read that not even the outrageously histrionic Aaron Baer mentioned in the Dispatch the whole original argument for the voucher program to begin with: it provides better options for kids in “failing” public schools. 

That’s because we now know, thanks to more than a decade of comparative testing, that vouchers actually harm student achievement.

Even the Fordham Institute — an avowed voucher proponent — agreed in 2016 when it found that vouchers actually reduced student achievement. This was affirmed in 2020 when the Cincinnati Enquirer looked at test scores of voucher recipients and compared those scores with scores of students in the communities in which the private school resided. The paper found that 88% of the time, the public school students outperformed the private school students.

To voucher proponents now what matters now is the choice, not the outcomes from that choice apparently.

So let me bottom line this program: it leads to more racial segregation, deprives communities of color much needed state educational aid and provides less successful student outcomes. 

But hey, let’s throw hundreds of millions more of our tax dollars at this thing

Peter Greene describes his latest gambit. He is pressing for the adoption of his “Stop WOKE” act.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing his level best to wreck education in his state by politicizing every education policy. It’s a textbook illustration of fear-mongering and race-baiting. How low can he go without scraping his head on the ground?

Greene writes:

Florida owns the Number One spot on the Public Education Hostility Index, but Governor Ron DeSantis is not willing to rest on his laurels. You may have already heard about this, or you may have passed over the news because it’s Florida, but some bad news needs to be repeated, particularly when it comes from the state that launches so many of the bad trends in education.

DeSantis has borrowed from Texas, where a new abortion banhas come up with a clever way to circumvent rules about what a state can and cannot enforce. Now upheld by SCOTUS, the law makes every citizen a bounty hunter, with the right for “anyone to sue anyone” suspected of being in any way involved in an abortion (in a rare display to restraint, Texas exempts the woman getting the abortion from the civil liability). 

The idea of insulating the state is not new to education privatization efforts. Part of the reasoning behind education savings accounts is that it let’s the state say, “What? We didn’t give taxpayer dollars to a private religious institution. We just gave the money to a scholarship organization (and they gave it to the private religious school). Totally not a First Amendment violation.”

So here comes DeSantis with his “Stop WOKE Act” (as in “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees”– some staffer was up late working on that one). This is legislation he’ll “push for” because of course a governor doesn’t propose legislation–he just orders it up from his party in the legislature. 

The proposal comes wrapped in lots of rhetoric about the evils of “critical race theory,” which DeSantis defines broadly and bluntly: Nobody wants this crap, OK? This is an elite-driven phenomenon being driven by bureaucratic elites, elites in universities and elites in corporate America and they’re trying to shove it down the throats of the American people. You’re not doing that in the state of Florida.

Along with vague rhetoric about learning to hate America, DeSantis brought in crt panic shill Christopher Rufo for his pep rally. And of course he trotted out some highly selective Martin Luther King Jr. quotage, because, hey, he’s totally not racist.

But the highlight here is creating a “private right of action” for parents, an actual alleged civil rights violation. Anyone who thinks their kid is being taught critical race theory can sue (and this will apply to workplace training as well). Parents who win even get to collect attorney’s fees, meaning they can float these damn lawsuits essentially for free– watch for Florida’s version of Edgar Snyder--attorneys advertising “there’s no charge unless we get money for you.”

Allowing parents to file lawsuits would have the effect of making the operating definition of crt even vaguer–it’s whatever Pat and Sam’s mom thinks it is. You can say that using a bad definition that loses the lawsuit would limit this vaguery, but that misses the point–the school would still have to defend itself in court, costing money and time…

Open the link and read the rest.

Greene predicts that teachers will not feel free to teach about America’s racist past. I agree with him.

A few nights ago, I watched a PBS documentary about the life of Marian Anderson, who was hailed in her lifetime as one of the greatest singers in the world. She toured the capitals of Europe to great acclaim. Yet for most of her life, she sang to racially segregated audiences in the United States. The documentary showed that Hitler admired America’s segregationist laws and practices and saw them as a model. Today, those who remember Anderson’s name know her as the black woman whom the DAR (Daughters of the Revolution) prohibited from performing in Constitution Hall in 1939, D.C.’s premier concert hall. D.C. was rigidly segregated. Instead she sang at the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 75,000 people. Her opening number was “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

I expect that no teacher in Florida would show that documentary in class. It may be factual, but some students’ parents would complain and sue the teacher for exposing their children to CRT.

Andre Perry, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, urges parents to speak out against fake conspiracy theories that are being cynically used to undermine public schools, their teachers, and freedom to teach and learn.

Perry writes:

Power-hungry politicians and bigots have always appealed to white supremacist values to achieve their political goals. In the 1950s, politicians latched onto white resistance to desegregation by turning busing into a trigger for white aggression. Children had been bused since the 1920s. But after the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education and the subsequent rulings to enforce it, busing became synonymous with a court-ordered invasion of white privilege. White women fought on the frontlines of the racist resistance to Black families integrating white schools. Politicians and right-wing activists amplified their fury and turned it into a movement.

School busing — not the fact that adults were attacking school buses with rocks and spitting on children — became the supposed threat to democracy. The practice of manufacturing fear around integration has been repeated ever since, with every advance in the Civil Rights Movement facing a racist backlash, including the current uproar over critical race theory, as inaccurately depicted, following the Black Lives Matter protests of the last two years.

Many of the mama bears coming out to protest now are direct political descendants of the white evangelicals who felt embittered about Supreme Court decisions and state policies around school desegregation, the teaching of evolution, the expansion of the curriculum to include multicultural voices, comprehensive sex ed, and the removal of compulsory, school sanctioned prayer. A recent article in the Christian Post lists the grievances for these parents: “We’re fed up with the pollution of our children’s minds with LGBT pedophilia and porn, racism, colorism, anti-capitalism, religious bigotry, anti-free speech, and other anti-American propaganda.”

Expanding civil rights isn’t anti-American. Discriminating against Black people, curtailing the pursuit of truth by Black students and scholars and maintaining a racial hierarchy are the actions that undermine our nation’s ideals — especially when these hateful acts are wrapped in democratic terms like “school choice” and “parent rights.”

Conservatives are currently using bans on critical race theory — a term they inaccurately define as any effort to teach about systemic racism or cultural sensitivity — as a pretext for eliminating from history lessons topics like slavery, Jim Crow racism, voter suppression, and housing and school segregation — all significant aspects of American history with long-lasting impact. In addition, conservatives are attempting to assuage or eliminate any feelings of guilt or accountability their white followers might have for this troubling past: White politicians seemingly don’t dare allow children to know that their ancestors and the U.S. government created these policies…

Stephen Sawchuk is a staff writer for Education Week. He wrote this article back in May, and I missed it. I think it’s one of the clearest, most balanced explanations of CRT that I have read.

Sawchuk writes:

Is “critical race theory” a way of understanding how American racism has shaped public policy, or a divisive discourse that pits people of color against white people? Liberals and conservatives are in sharp disagreement. 

The topic has exploded in the public arena this spring—especially in K-12, where numerous state legislatures are debating bills seeking to ban its use in the classroom. 

In truth, the divides are not nearly as neat as they may seem. The events of the last decade have increased public awareness about things like housing segregation, the impacts of criminal justice policy in the 1990s, and the legacy of enslavement on Black Americans. But there is much less consensus on what the government’s role should be in righting these past wrongs. Add children and schooling into the mix and the debate becomes especially volatile.

School boards, superintendents, even principals and teachers are already facing questions about critical race theory, and there are significant disagreements even among experts about its precise definition as well as how its tenets should inform K-12 policy and practice. This explainer is meant only as a starting point to help educators grasp core aspects of the current debate.

Just what is critical race theory anyway? 

Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

The basic tenets of critical race theory, or CRT, emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others.

A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas.

Today, those same patterns of discrimination live on through facially race-blind policies, like single-family zoning that prevents the building of affordable housing in advantaged, majority-white neighborhoods and, thus, stymies racial desegregation efforts.

CRT also has ties to other intellectual currents, including the work of sociologists and literary theorists who studied links between political power, social organization, and language. And its ideas have since informed other fields, like the humanities, the social sciences, and teacher education.

This academic understanding of critical race theory differs from representation in recent popular books and, especially, from its portrayal by critics—often, though not exclusively, conservative Republicans. Critics charge that the theory leads to negative dynamics, such as a focus on group identity over universal, shared traits; divides people into “oppressed” and “oppressor” groups; and urges intolerance.

Thus, there is a good deal of confusion over what CRT means, as well as its relationship to other terms, like “anti-racism” and “social justice,” with which it is often conflated.

To an extent, the term “critical race theory” is now cited as the basis of all diversity and inclusion efforts regardless of how much it’s actually informed those programs. 

One conservative organization, the Heritage Foundation, recently attributed a whole host of issues to CRT, including the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, LGBTQ clubs in schools, diversity training in federal agencies and organizations, California’s recent ethnic studies model curriculum, the free-speech debate on college campuses, and alternatives to exclusionary discipline—such as the Promise program in Broward County, Fla., that some parents blame for the Parkland school shootings. “When followed to its logical conclusion, CRT is destructive and rejects the fundamental ideas on which our constitutional republic is based,” the organization claimed.null

(A good parallel here is how popular ideas of the common core learning standards grew to encompass far more than what those standards said on paper.) 

Does critical race theory say all white people are racist? Isn’t that racist, too? 

The theory says that racism is part of everyday life, so people—white or nonwhite—who don’t intend to be racist can nevertheless make choices that fuel racism. 

Some critics claim that the theory advocates discriminating against white people in order to achieve equity. They mainly aim those accusations at theorists who advocate for policies that explicitly take race into account. (The writer Ibram X. Kendi, whose recent popular book How to Be An Antiracistsuggests that discrimination that creates equity can be considered anti-racist, is often cited in this context.)

Fundamentally, though, the disagreement springs from different conceptions of racism. CRT puts an emphasis on outcomes, not merely on individuals’ own beliefs, and it calls on these outcomes to be examined and rectified. Among lawyers, teachers, policymakers, and the general public, there are many disagreements about how precisely to do those things, and to what extent race should be explicitly appealed to or referred to in the process.

Here’s a helpful illustration to keep in mind in understanding this complex idea. In a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court school-assignment case on whether race could be a factor in maintaining diversity in K-12 schools, Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion famously concluded: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” But during oral arguments, then-justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said: “It’s very hard for me to see how you can have a racial objective but a nonracial means to get there.”

All these different ideas grow out of longstanding, tenacious intellectual debates. Critical race theory emerged out of postmodernist thought, which tends to be skeptical of the idea of universal values, objective knowledge, individual merit, Enlightenment rationalism, and liberalism—tenets that conservatives tend to hold dear.

What does any of this have to do with K-12 education?

Scholars who study critical race theory in education look at how policies and practices in K-12 education contribute to persistent racial inequalities in education, and advocate for ways to change them. Among the topics they’ve studied: racially segregated schools, the underfunding of majority-Black and Latino school districts, disproportionate disciplining of Black students, barriers to gifted programs and selective-admission high schools, and curricula that reinforce racist ideas. 

Critical race theory is not a synonym for culturally relevant teaching, which emerged in the 1990s. This teaching approach seeks to affirm students’ ethnic and racial backgrounds and is intellectually rigorous. But it’s related in that one of its aims is to help students identify and critique the causes of social inequality in their own lives.null

Many educators support, to one degree or another, culturally relevant teaching and other strategies to make schools feel safe and supportive for Black students and other underserved populations. (Students of color make up the majority of school-aged children.) But they don’t necessarily identify these activities as CRT-related.

As one teacher-educator put it: “The way we usually see any of this in a classroom is: ‘Have I thought about how my Black kids feel? And made a space for them, so that they can be successful?’ That is the level I think it stays at, for most teachers.” Like others interviewed for this explainer, the teacher-educator did not want to be named out of fear of online harassment. 

An emerging subtext among some critics is that curricular excellence can’t coexist alongside culturally responsive teaching or anti-racist work. Their argument goes that efforts to change grading practices or make the curriculum less Eurocentricwill ultimately harm Black students, or hold them to a less high standard. 

As with CRT in general, its popular representation in schools has been far less nuanced. A recent poll by the advocacy group Parents Defending Education claimed some schools were teaching that “white people are inherently privileged, while Black and other people of color are inherently oppressed and victimized”; that “achieving racial justice and equality between racial groups requires discriminating against people based on their whiteness”; and that “the United States was founded on racism.”

Thus much of the current debate appears to spring not from the academic texts, but from fear among critics that students—especially white students—will be exposed to supposedly damaging or self-demoralizing ideas.

While some district officials have issued mission statements, resolutions, or spoken about changes in their policies using some of the discourse of CRT, it’s not clear to what degree educators are explicitly teaching the concepts, or even using curriculum materials or other methods that implicitly draw on them. For one thing, scholars say, much scholarship on CRT is written in academic language or published in journals not easily accessible to K-12 teachers.

What is going on with these proposals to ban critical race theory in schools? 

As of mid-May, legislation purporting to outlaw CRT in schools has passed in Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee and have been proposed in various other statehouses.

The bills are so vaguely written that it’s unclear what they will affirmatively cover. Could a teacher who wants to talk about a factual instance of state-sponsored racism—like the establishment of Jim Crow, the series of laws that prevented Black Americans from voting or holding office and separated them from white people in public spaces—be considered in violation of these laws?It’s also unclear whether these new bills are constitutional, or whether they impermissibly restrict free speech.It would be extremely difficult, in any case, to police what goes on inside hundreds of thousands of classrooms. But social studies educators fear that such laws could have a chilling effect on teachers who might self-censor their own lessons out of concern for parent or administrator complaints.

As English teacher Mike Stein told Chalkbeat Tennessee about the new law: “History teachers can not adequately teach about the Trail of Tears, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement. English teachers will have to avoid teaching almost any text by an African American author because many of them mention racism to various extents.”

The laws could also become a tool to attack other pieces of the curriculum, including ethnic studies and “action civics”—an approach to civics education that asks students to research local civic problems and propose solutions.How is this related to other debates over what’s taught in the classroom amid K-12 culture wars?

The charge that schools are indoctrinating students in a harmful theory or political mindset is a longstanding one, historians note. CRT appears to be the latest salvo in this ongoing debate.

In the early and mid-20th century, the concern was about socialism or Marxism. The conservative American Legion, beginning in the 1930s, sought to rid schools of progressive-minded textbooks that encouraged students to consider economic inequality; two decades later the John Birch Society raised similar criticisms about school materials. As with CRT criticisms, the fear was that students would be somehow harmed by exposure to these ideas.

As the school-aged population became more diverse, these debates have been inflected through the lens of race and ethnic representation, including disagreements over multiculturalism and ethnic studies, the ongoing “canon wars” over which texts should make up the English curriculum, and the so-called “ebonics” debates over the status of Black vernacular English in schools.

In history, the debates have focused on the balance among patriotism and American exceptionalism, on one hand, and the country’s history of exclusion and violence towards Indigenous people and the enslavement of African Americans on the other—between its ideals and its practices. Those tensions led to the implosion of a 1994 attempt to set national history standards.

A current example that has fueled much of the recent round of CRT criticism is the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which sought to put the history and effects of enslavement—as well as Black Americans’ contributions to democratic reforms—at the center of American history.

The culture wars are always, at some level, battled out within schools, historians say.

“It’s because they’re nervous about broad social things, but they’re talking in the language of school and school curriculum,” said one historian of education. “That’s the vocabulary, but the actual grammar is anxiety about shifting social power relations.”

Chris Rufo has taken credit for creating the furor over “critical race theory,” leading about a dozen Republican-controlled states to pass laws banning it (whatever they think it is, mostly anything to do with racism). He is widely recognized for inventing the fear that public schools are teaching children to “hate” America or to be ashamed for being white. Despite lack of evidence that critical race theory is taught in K-12 schools, the issue has made many teachers fearful of teaching the history of racism.

Critical race theory originated among black law school professors, and it is in law school where students and faculty analyze the persistence of systemic racism in our laws and institutions.

To the extent that teachers talk about racism, it is because it has existed and does exist. It is literally impossible to teach American history without discussion of racism.

Chris Rufo loves attention, so he upped the stakes and increased his targets on Twitter, where he released this tweet. See @Realchrisrufo.

It’s time to clean house in America: remove the attorney general, lay siege to the universities, abolish the teachers unions, and overturn the school boards.

The comments below this tweet are worth reading.

A reader who signs in as “Democracy” posted the following comment in response to Jennifer Berkshire’s article in The Nation. Berkshire argued that Terry McAuliffe lost the governor’s race in Virginia because he is a corporate Democrat who doesn’t understand or value public education and couldn’t defend it against Glenn Youngkin’s attacks.

Democracy wrote:

I’ll agree with Jennifer Berkshire that Terry McAuliffe didn’t exactly grasp the historical foundation(s) for public schools. But then, neither do MOST politicians. Nor do most voters. That’s NOT why McAuliffe lost the Virginia election. Racism was.

As I noted previously, prior to the election, the NY Times reported this: “Republicans have moved to galvanize crucial groups of voters around what the party calls ‘parental rights’ issues in public schools, a hodgepodge of conservative causes ranging from eradicating mask mandates to demanding changes to the way children are taught about racism…Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate in Virginia, stoked the resentment and fear of white voters, alarmed by efforts to teach a more critical history of racism in America…he released an ad that was a throwback to the days of banning books, highlighting objections by a white mother and her high-school-age son to ‘Beloved,’ the canonical novel about slavery by the Black Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.”

The Washington Post reported this: “Youngkin surged in the late weeks of the race by tapping into a deep well of conservative parental resentment against public school systems. He promised to ban the teaching of critical race theory, an academic approach to racial history that’s not on the Virginia K-12 curriculum….the conservative news media and Republican candidates stirred the stew of anxieties and racial resentments that animate the party’s base — thundering about equity initiatives, books with sexual content and transgender students on sports teams.”

And, again, the NY Times: “the past half-century of American political history shows that racially coded attacks are how Republicans have been winning elections for decades…Youngkin dragged race into the election, making his vow to ‘ban critical race theory’ a centerpiece of his stump speech and repeating it over the closing weekend — Race is the elephant in the room.”

The Associated Press reported this, on CRT and the the Virginia governor’s race: “The issue had weight in Virginia, too. A majority of voters there — 7 in 10 — said racism is a serious problem in U.S. society, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of Tuesday’s electorate…The divide along party lines was stark: 78% of Youngkin voters considered the focus on racism in schools to be too much.”

How does Jennifer Berkshire explain all this? She doesn’t. UVA political analyst Larry Sabato described the Youngkin Critical Race Theory strategy this way: “The operative word is not critical.And it’s not theory. It’s race. What a shock, huh? Race. That is what matters. And that’s why it’s sticks. There’s a lot of, we can call it white backlash, white resistance, whatever you want to call it. It has to do with race. And so we live in a post-factual era … It doesn’t matter that [CRT] isn’t taught in Virginia schools. It’s this generalized attitude that whites are being put upon and we’ve got to do something about it. We being white voters.”

White voters — especially low-education white voters surely did listen hard and hear well. Youngkin won 76 percent of non-college graduate whites. And Youngkin got way more of the non-college white women votes (75 percent) than McAuliffe.

Check the exit polls:

WHITE WOMEN COLLEGE GRADS
VA 2020: 58% Biden, 41% Trump
VA 2021: 62% McAuliffe, 38% Youngkin

WHITE WOMEN NON-COLLEGE
VA 2020: 56% Trump, 44% Biden
VA 2021: 75% Youngkin, 25% McAuliffe

How does Jennifer Berkshire explain all this? She doesn’t. There’s a reason that KKKers, and Neo-Nazis and white supremacists — Trump’s “very fine people” — identify with the Republican Party. And that’s because it is the party of Trump, and racism, and voter suppression, and white grievance and white nationalism. The Virginia election just mirrored who and what white Republican voters are.

After the election, I posted an article from the Charlotte News-Observer/AP that suggested that attacks on critical race theory was not a decisive factor in many local school board races.

But since there are thousands of local school boards, no one knows for sure whether the issue changed minds and votes.

Axios reports that the anti-CRT crowd made many gains in their effort to win school board races.

Mike Allen writes:

A new PAC focused on electing conservative candidates to public school boards — by raising fears about how racism is taught — won three-fourths of its 58 races across seven states on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Those wins for the 1776 Project PAC, and Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial victory in Virginia, underscore the political potency of culture wars and COVID-related issues in schools this year — and how GOP candidates are seeking to ride the trend to new majorities.

  • Founder Ryan Girdusky told Axios: “My PAC is campaigning on behalf of everyday moms and dads who want to have better access to their children’s education.”

But, but, but: School officials are concerned there’s been intense hype and misinformation around the U.S. about what’s actually being taught in most schools.

  • They also worry politicization of school boards is sometimes translating to violence against teachers, and poorly informed decision-making.

By the numbers: Thirteen Pennsylvania school board candidates backed by the group won their races, along with 11 in Colorado, nine in Kansas, four in New Jersey, three in Virginia and two each in Ohio and Minnesota.

  • They’re not just winning in Republican areas; several candidates won in solid blue counties: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania; Passaic County, New Jersey; and Johnson County, Kansas.

Between the lines: Critical race theory is an academic movement focused on systemic racism, especially in U.S. law. It’s largely remained in graduate school settings as opposed to public secondary schools.

  • But “CRT” has become a potent political buzzword among conservative politicians and parents upset about schools introducing new lessons about racism and the history of slavery in the U.S.

What to watch: Expect more Republican candidates up and down the ballot to pick up CRT along with the rest of Youngkin’s political playbook.

  • The education issue “seems to be trending in our direction, whether it’s school lockdowns, curriculum or critical race theory,” one national GOP strategist told Axios.

If the attacks on CRT continue to stir animosity and spread lies about teaching history, this will cause teachers to self-censor whatever they teach about race and racism. This chilling effect will hamper efforts to think critically and honestly about some of the most important issues in American history. The attacks have also targeted any efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. The anti-CRT crusaders say they want to restore “patriotic education.” That is, an education built on lies.

Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire are co-authors of A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School. It is a book that everyone should read. They recently wrote an article that was posted in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog at the Washington Post.

They write:

In their search for issues that will deliver Congress in 2022, conservatives have begun to circle around the cause of “parents’ rights.” In Indiana, Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita recently introduced a Parents Bill of Rights, which asserts that “education policy and curriculum should accurately reflect the values of Indiana families.” In Florida, the legislature passed an even more comprehensive bill, assuring that the state and its public schools cannot infringe on the “fundamental rights” of parents. A growing number of states are allowing parents to sue districts that teach banned concepts. And in Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin has made parents’ rights a centerpiece of his campaign for governor, staging “parents matter” rallies and declaring, “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.”

Given this frenzy, one might reasonably conclude that radicals are out to curtail the established rights that Americans have over the educational sphere. Yet what’s actually radical here is the assertion of parental powers that have never previously existed. This is not to say that parents should have no influence over how their children are taught. But common law and case law in the United States have long supported the idea that education should prepare young people to think for themselves, even if that runs counter to the wishes of parents. In the words of legal scholar Jeff Shulman, “This effort may well divide child from parent, not because socialist educators want to indoctrinate children, but because learning to think for oneself is what children do.”

When do the interests of parents and children diverge? Generally, it occurs when a parent’s desire to inculcate a particular worldview denies the child exposure to other ideas and values that an independent young person might wish to embrace or at least entertain. To turn over all decisions to parents, then, would risk inhibiting the ability of young people to think independently. As the political scientist Rob Reich has argued, “Minimal autonomy requires, especially for its civic importance, that a child be able to examine his or her own political values and beliefs, and those of others, with a critical eye.” If we value that end, “the structure of schooling cannot simply replicate in every particularity the values and beliefs of a child’s home.”

The law has long reflected this. Consider home schooling. Although it is legal across the country, states still regulate its practice. Such regulations often aren’t enforced, but they are certainly on the books. Home-schooling parents can be required to establish minimal academic qualifications, to submit examples of student work to school district administrators or even to adopt a state-approved curriculum. As the Supreme Court noted in Wisconsin v. Yoder, a case that granted Amish parents the widest possible exemption from state control, “There is no doubt as to the power of a State, having a high responsibility for education of its citizens, to impose reasonable regulations for the control and duration of basic education.” And, as the court made clear in an earlier case, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the state concerns itself not just with the well-being of the child but also with what the justices broadly called “the public welfare.”

The sudden push for parental rights, then, isn’t a response to substantive changes in education or the law. It’s a political tactic.

Writing in the 1960s, historian Richard Hofstadter observed that conservatives felt that the country had been “taken away from them and their kind” and that timeworn American virtues had been “eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals.” In response, they took up what he called the “paranoid style” — an approach to politics characterized by “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.” Published more than half a century ago, his essay could have been penned yesterday.

The “paranoid style” of politics is particularly useful as a mechanism for organizing opposition. And the Republicans employing it right now have two particular targets in mind. The first is the public education system, which hard-liners have long sought to undermine. At an annual cost of nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars, tuition-free, open-enrollment education represents one of the nation’s most substantial commitments to the public good. But well before Ronald Reagan’s failed effort to introduce vouchers in the 1980s, conservatives were making the case for a privatized system — one in which families, not taxpayers, would bear the cost of education, and governance would happen through the free market rather than democratic politics. In recent years, this vision has come roaring back. Conservative legislatures across the United States have introduced bills creating education savings accounts, private-school tuition tax credits and other forms of neo-vouchers that package old ideological wine in new bottles.

But this play is much bigger than education. For years, the Republican Party has understood that the demographic tide is against it. Knowing that every vote matters, the GOP has increasingly relied on a strategy of voter suppression. Simultaneously, Republicans have worked to ensure that their base turns out in force by stoking White racial grievance. The recent firestorm over critical race theory is a perfect case in point. Never mind that this concept from legal scholarship isn’t actually taught in K-12 schools or that it isn’t what most protesters believe it to be. Republicans gain an electoral advantage by convincing their base that White children are being taught to hate themselves, their families and their country. Whether this supposed attack on the American way of life is being coordinated by Black Lives Matter activists, Marxist educators or antifa operatives, the point, as Hofstadter observed, is to generate an enemy “thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable.”

Courts have found that parents have great authority when it comes to deciding how to raise and educate their children. This right, however, does not mean that public schools must cater to parents’ individual ideas about education. Parents can opt out of the public system if they wish, and pay to send their children to private or religious schools. But even there, parental rights remain subject to state regulation and override.

In framing our public schools as extremist organizations that undermine the prerogatives of families, conservatives are bringing napalm to the fight. That may rally the base and tilt a few elections in their favor. But as with any scorched-earth campaign, the costs of this conflict will be borne long after the fighting stops. Parents may end up with a new set of “rights” only to discover that they have lost something even more fundamental in the process. Turned against their schools and their democracy, they may wake from their conspiratorial fantasies to find a pile of rubble and a heap of ashes.

State Senator Lincoln Fillmore is very worried about the teaching of “critical race theory,” although there is no evidence that anyone is teaching it in Utah schools. He is calling for a law requiring social studies teachers to post their daily lesson plans online, so parents and other concerned members of the community can scrutinize them. Teachers are rightly furious.

A Utah lawmaker wants to require that all materials for social science classes in K-12 be vetted and posted online for parents to review in advance — and teachers are pushing back.

Educators say the proposal shows a lack of trust in their judgment. They call it micromanaging. Some argue that it will hamper their ability to teach students about what’s happening in the world in real time. One called it a “classic witch hunt.”

“The ‘witches’ are social studies teachers who dare discuss current events,” said Deborah Gatrell, a teacher at Hunter High in Granite School District, in a post about her concerns.

The controversial idea comes Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, as a continuation of the effort by conservative Utah leaders to control what’s being taught about history in the classroom. Fillmore was also the Senate sponsor on the bill last session that banned discussion of critical race theory in public schools in the state.

The Network for Public Education blog posted this excellent explanation of why the Republican laws banning teaching about racism are wrong. They assert that white children will feel bad about themselves if they learn the truth about the past, about whites’ oppression of Blacks, about lynching and massacres and white supremacy.

From the blog Edukention, a response to the concern that teaching about racial history and institutional racism will make white children feel bad. 

One of the myths about teaching accurate racial history and institutional racism is that it will make white children feel bad about themselves. In most cases, this is a trumped up idea intended to dissuade teachers from teaching accurately and it is a rationale for abusing teachers, administrators, and school boards into supporting a white supremacist curriculum. It makes NO SENSE that an accurate education would make the learners “feel bad” about themselves. What they are learning is what was done BEFORE they were alive; they didn’t do anything wrong. They are learning about what OTHER PEOPLE did.

It’s like saying we shouldn’t teach about World War II because it might make Germans, Italians, and Japanese people feel bad about themselves. I’m ¼ German, and I never once felt the slightest bit of guilt or self-loathing when I learned about Nazi Germany. In fact, I felt good because I learned that people who share my heritage who were wrongheaded in their ideas were defeated and then later they made peace with their past, established a better set of conditions, and became important leaders and global citizens–although far from perfect, of course.

It’s not fun to learn about injustice, especially if you are benefitting from that injustice. We can file these feelings under “growing pains,” which is when you learn something that makes you feel temporarily bad but is ultimately important to be a functioning, ethical adult. For example, think about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or any myths that are prominent among children in your culture. Eventually, the truth must out. Life is not fair, and it’s less fair from some than others. Much less fair. To a degree that takes lives and livelihoods from some and makes it much easier for others.

Over the course of centuries, white people have allowed themselves to be treated with a level of care and respect they have not granted to people of color. After so much time, it can seem natural that some deserve more than others. THAT’S where unfair privilege comes in. Some of us (white, wealthy, male, straight, abled) have a lot of privilege. Yeah, it sucks to have that pointed out, but we have to be adults. We need to learn about it, accept it, and make the necessary changes to make ourselves and our world better.

Children and adolescents are especially attuned to fairness, and as they mature they are rarely wounded when they understand that they must share in fair ways.

Read the full post here.

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/edukention-good-teaching-about-race-does-not-make-white-children-feel-bad-about-themselves/