Watching teachers unions, government school honchos, the media, etc., deny that Critical Race Theory (which makes race the prism through which its proponents analyze all aspects of American life, categorizing individuals into groups of oppressors and victims) is taught in our schools reminds me of that memorable scene from an otherwise forgettable movie, A Guide for the Married Man. A husband gets caught by his wife in bed with another woman, and he simply denies it. And he does so, vociferously and repetitiously to the point that his wife actually starts to believe him.
A typical example of this gaslighting is “Who is Behind the Attacks on Educators and Public Schools?,” posted earlier this month by the National Education Association on its website. The union claims, “Small groups of radicalized adults, egged on by…bad actors, have been whipped into a furor over…the false notion that children are being taught ‘critical race theory.’” At the same time that NEA is denying that CRT is taught, the union published its Racial Justice in Education Resource Guide, in which teachers are advised how to directly address issues such as white supremacy, implicit bias and acknowledging how race influences their work.
In November, an American Enterprise Institute report definitively showed “how legacy and education media refuse to acknowledge the hard evidence — numerous clear examples of CRT curriculum taught to students, a CRT pledge on a state website, and the political implications of parents speaking out about CRT at school boards.” And just last week, John Murawski at RealClearInvestigations gave us abundant evidence that CRT does indeed exist in our schools. One of the myriad examples he gives is Manuel Rustin, a high school history teacher, who helped oversee the drafting of California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. He discloses “Ethnic studies without Critical Race Theory is not ethnic studies. It would be like a science class without the scientific method. There is no critical analysis of systems of power and experiences of these marginalized groups without Critical Race Theory.”
And then there is Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study which thousands of American educators use to teach children to read. As reported by Daniel Buck and James Fury in City Journal, one part of Calkins’ Critical Literacy: Unlocking Contemporary Fiction, which is geared to middle school students, discloses that the unit will delve into “the politics of race, class, and gender.” The authors explain, “One activity asks students to break down ‘hegemonic masculinity’ in the books they’re reading. Another builds ‘identity lenses’ through which students can analyze various texts, including ‘critical race theories’ and ‘gender theories.’ References to identity pervade nearly every page of the unit. Accompanying materials declare that the curriculum is ‘dedicated’ to teaching ‘critical literacies’ that will ‘help readers investigate power.’”
In Los Angeles, the school district’s Office of Human Relations, Diversity & Equity released a PowerPoint presentation which explained that critical race theory isn’t being taught in schools. But at the same time, the district made presentations which did precisely that. L.A. Unified also mandated that teachers take an antiracism course taught by a known critical race theorist who told them to “challenge whiteness.”
Anti-CRT activist Christopher Rufo quotes Detroit school superintendent Nikolai Vitti: “Our curriculum is deeply using critical race theory, especially in social studies, but you’ll find it in English language arts and the other disciplines. We were very intentional about … embedding critical race theory within our curriculum.”
In Seattle, the school district’s “Department of Racial Equity Advancement” employs critical race theorists who apply the controversial concept to school policies and practices as part of the district’s efforts to embed it in elementary schools.
Campbell Union High School District in California’s Silicon Valley has become downright religious on the issue. One of its “equity resources” includes a document that teaches students how to put a curse on those who say “all lives matter.” One section titled “Hex” asserts, “Hexing people is an important way to get out anger and frustration.” And it instructs students to make a list of specific people who have been agents of police terror or global brutality.
The “hexers” are on to something. CRT is, more than anything, a religion. In fact, Columbia University professor John McWhorter has based his new book on the subject. Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America makes the case that, “It is not ‘like’ a religion…rather, it is what any anthropologist would recognize as one, with its own superstitions, rituals, clergy, and judgment day.” He adds that despite its worshippers’ best intentions, “the religion offers an oversimplified sense of what racism is and what one does about it.” He also maintains that CRT’s adherents, whom he calls “the Elect,” are “content to harm black people in the name of what we can only term dogma.”
Religion or not, how do we put an end to it? The answer actually comes from Theresa Montaño, a professional CRT coach and professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at California State University, who coached teachers during a November webinar. She advises her acolytes, “Don’t say critical race theory, just teach its precepts.” She adds, “What they did is they took those tenets of critical race theory, the pedagogy, or the methodology, and create[d] pedagogical models. You’re going to see how classroom teachers apply some of these pedagogical models in ways where they don’t even mention the words critical race theory but are doing anti-racist work.”
Following Montaño’s lead, states and school districts that want to halt the spread of CRT should do so by not using the term. Instead, the Heritage Foundation has solid model wording which avoids any mention of the noxious theory:
- No teacher or student should be compelled to affirm, believe, profess, or adhere to any idea that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- No course of instruction or unit of study may direct or otherwise compel students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to any idea that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- No school shall contract for teacher professional development with providers who promote racially essentialist doctrines and practices that have been held to violate the Civil Rights Act.
- A private individual may bring a right of action against any public institution engaged in racial discrimination.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 very simply “outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and later sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Following that line of thinking, the North Carolina legislature recently passed HB 324, which lays out rules that educators must follow. Schools are not allowed to teach that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex, that an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex, that an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, etc. But Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed it anyway, saying, “The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education.”
This bill is pushing “calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education?” With Cooper’s (intentionally?) warped inversion of reality, it sounds as if a political sequel to A Guide for the Married Man is in the works.
* * *Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.