Schools should be for learning academics, not social activism
Americans have never complained when politicians and adults played politics because the players and the rules were always clear and understood. But this has changed. It is now fair game for administrators to politicize public schooling and our children’s education.
Students are now being exploited as malleable pawns in the manufacturing of a militia of political activists. This hijacking of public education has occurred by well-intentioned but overly righteous activists. The fundamental principles of objective truth, scientific reasoning and universal educational standards are being abandoned in favor of a highly political and ideological pseudo-pedagogy. It’s therefore not a surprise when we learn that academic performance outcomes are sliding throughout the U.S. with the racial gap widening. This regression can be traced straight back to the systemic politicization by the “everything is racist” movement.
This movement believes that to end racism, sexism and classism that our K-12 students must be recruited as a new army of social activists. They believe that the history of racism has been whitewashed and that it must be re-written from the oppressed people’s perspective. They see whites as historically having had their knees on the neck of minorities and that whiteness has dominated every system of control with the sole purpose to protect and preserve white property and power, and, that any benefits to minorities meant there was a gain for white interests.
They embrace intersectionality, the belief that racism intersects every facet of our American lives. They believe that education’s primary focus is no longer reading, writing and arithmetic but rather deploying teachers as ideological change agents and warriors for equity and social justice.
Yes, discrimination exists across all of humanity, but it is not exclusive to white people and it does not exist anywhere near the extent that these impassioned activists insist. Furthermore, every one of these well thought out plans that they have constructed attempt to address racism with racism, stereotyping matched by stereotyping, prejudice with still more prejudice and discrimination countered by discrimination. Implying that the entire American majority are racist is an ignorant proposition indeed and at minimum should require some form of proof or evidence.
Do we really think that all minority outcome inequalities that are occurring within education, health, housing, and income are all because of a white system of racism or that it is even the primary contributor of these disparities? Isn’t it far more plausible that the primary drivers are the combinations of systemic classism, systemic familyism, systemic governmentism and systemic white virtuism? All these toxic notions of critical race theory and all their neo-racism underlings are here now and being systemically structured by the networks of public schooling power players while their public relations communications rebuke it all with plausible deniability gamesmanship. School administrators and think tanks everywhere are pushing back on any opposition with little or no substantive counter-argument and often responding with personal insults and ridicule for the critics.
I would like to show you exactly what this stuff looks like in schools by using my own Somers school district as an example. On May 10 our Somers school district released a diversity, equity and inclusion program update (DEI) that contained all the troubling aspects of these theoretical and ideological concepts. The report alleges that in order to deliver effective teaching one must first create a harmonious coexistence within the classroom environment by dividing groups out based on their race, culture, sex and sexual/gender identities. It then goes on to highlight several critical race theory books and authors for teacher professional development. The premise of many of these books is that all whites are racist and that they use their dominant majority to structurally oppress and discriminate against minorities. If there are any whites that happen to fall outside of the stereotype it is because they have somehow found a way to benefit within this corrupt system. These books demand absolute loyalty to the cause with no option of neutrality. You are to either support this anti-racist ideology and all of its contents or you are befallen as a racist.
The report identifies implicit bias, anti-bias and anti-racism as the touchstone concepts that teachers are to bring back into their classrooms using techniques like “courageous conversations” to spur an awakened sense of social justice activism. It then emphasizes the school’s commitment to programming staff and then students in the concepts of cultural consciousness, cultural responsiveness, cultural advocacy, racial Justice, white privilege and allyship (when you segment students by oppressor and oppressed racial groups as a means to end systemic bias and racial oppression).
Next the report outlines the specific DEI curriculum updates. It targets a literature portfolio that is based in the “windows mirrors and sliding door approach.” This means focusing on books from the prism of the racially oppressed and sexually or gender marginalized. Finally, the report emphasizes that in order for the Somers school district to properly promote social justice, identity and equitability, that they are committed to a curriculum based in part on the four social justice standards under the learning for justice organization. They are (IDJA): (1) Identity (2) Diversity (3) Justice and, (4) Action.
These, as I interpret them, can be summed up like this:
Identity: students will develop language to correctly describe their membership into several identity groups. A focus will be on the dominant grouping creating the dominant culture.
Diversity: students will use their languages within their identity groups to identify differences and similarities with other identity groups. Students will be instructed to exchange ideas and beliefs in an open-minded manner.
Justice: students will recognize bias speech and systemic and institutional discrimination. Students will recognize how their racial power and privilege has contributed to the systemic bias and Injustice of the world with relevant social justice actions and countermeasures.
Actions: students will recognize their responsibility to stand up to exclusion, prejudice and injustice. Students will learn to speak out courageously whenever they suspect someone has been wronged by bias. Students will plan collectively to carry out actions against bias and injustice throughout the world.
This DEI program within the Somers school district is but one example of what people are objecting to throughout the state and the country.
True equality is achieved by maximizing the ability of Americans to become self-sufficient –not by dividing Americans on the basis of race and apportioning resources based on skin color and blindly assuming that all racial disparities are because of racism.
School administrator should not be using the goal of teaching diversity of thought as an excuse to teach students to view others through ethnic stereotypes or that America is an irredeemably racist country.
What is gained by isolating and focusing on our small immutable differences? Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on the whole individual under our single humanity and focusing on the universally shared effective attributes and virtues that can actually be developed and improved?
Americans are united in the fight to end discrimination. But many Americans stand in opposition to the solution that is now sweeping into our public schools. Compromise and common ground comes to mind. There’s actually a more effective choice to fight discrimination which doesn’t fractionalize individuals by sub-identities, ethnocentric sub-groupings or that doesn’t view truth as subjective based on the relative experiences of varying identities and ethnic subgroups.
This alternative uses a principle-based approach that applies a universal set of the most effective shared human habits to every student equally and, that views truth as objective and potentially absolute but recognizes that’s it’s the perception of Truth that is subjective.
It’s time we end the name calling and insults to constructive criticisms and become open to compromise. This is critical because the program currently underway is only going to give us more of what it promises to reduce.
Bob Chester is a candidate for the Somers Board of Education.
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