Forcing 1 Million Escaped Students Back to the Public School Plantation

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

The Great Public School Exodus, as some are calling it, is transforming the educational system.

As the New York Times recently noted, “America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020.” School systems in woke states were hardest hit. “New York City, the nation’s largest school district has lost some 50,000 students over the past two years” while California lost a quarter of a million students.

The total loss of over a million students leaves public school enrollment at a historic low.

Even while trapped in a failed system, those kids still meant money in the bank for teachers’ unions and the leftist politicians funded by dirty money looted from property taxes. Now that they’re gone, both Democrats and unions want to bring back their property to keep the cash.

Democrats could try to win back the million students and their parents who fled a failing system. They could try to retune schools to better compete with private schools, charters, homeschooling, and other alternative options to the failed public school system.

Otherwise how are you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm now that they’re seen what a  functioning educational system that puts math and science ahead of wokeness looks like?

In the face of parental revolts over efforts to bring graphic sex, racism, and sexual identity grooming into classrooms, Dems could give parents greater control over school curriculums.

Instead they’re trying to destroy any alternative to the system whose teachers fund their party.

Last week, minority parents protested outside the White House against Biden’s new war on charter schools. Even while the media eagerly covered every pro-abortion activist wearing a handmaid costume, 1,000 parents rallying at the White House received virtually no coverage.

Why are minority charter school parents upset?

The Biden administration’s assault on charter schools comes by way of rules which, much like the CDC’s school reopening regulations, were likely written with a great deal of input from the UFT and teachers’ unions, are meant to cut off alternatives to the failed public school system.

After attacking school choice and now charter schools, all that’s left is homeschooling, and educrats have been pushing for “reforms” to crack down or eliminate that option entirely.

Elizabeth Bartholet, the director of Harvard Law’s Child Advocacy Program, described the “homeschooling phenomenon” as a “threat” to society, claiming that conservative parents “homeschool because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to our democracy”, “promote racial segregation and female subservience”, and “question science”.

Her paper called for a “presumptive ban on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool.” These views are not fringe.

Other leftist activists are targeting Christian and Jewish religious schools, often under the guise of front groups like the anti-Orthodox Yaffed. Under Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, New York’s Jewish and Catholic schools banded together to resist the leftist assault on their schools.

But the smears and efforts at regulation continue to be mainstreamed among Democrats.

Examples include the “Don’t Say God Bill” (or as its backers call it, Senate Bill S6423 or the Right to Learn Bill) by New York Senator Robert Jackson who boasts of being awarded the highest honor by the United Federation of Teachers which also targets religious schools.

Beyond the obsession with ideological indoctrination, it’s also about following the money.

Teachers’ unions remain a major contributor to Democrat candidates and to the Left’s activist machines, and their members are campaign foot soldiers whose loss would be devastating.

For example, the New York State United Teachers alone accounted for $5.8 million in 2016 spending. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association spent over $35 million in 2020. Beyond that they ran phone banks and got out the vote.

The vast political power bought by teachers’ unions allowed its members to keep schools shut down during the pandemic, destroying the education of an entire generation of students.

The Democrats only forced school reopenings when poll numbers turned catastrophically bad and Virginia turned red. But they still face the problem of over a million missing students.

Enrollment declines also mean that fewer teachers and schools will be needed. And while teachers’ unions routinely fight to minimize class sizes, not because they want to be better teachers, but because they seek to maximize their employment numbers, there’s only so many crooked contracts that can offset a decline of 50,000, let alone 250,000 students.

Unions and Democrats need those kids back in public schools. There’s a lot of money and power riding on it. Declining unions won’t have as much money to give to the Democrats. And fewer teachers will mean less activists manning phone banks or knocking on doors.

Biden is trying to put those escaped students back on the public school plantation where they will be taught nothing except racism and sex, but their bodies will be used to generate cash.

Over the pandemic, white public school enrollment dropped by 8%, while black enrollment only declined by 5%. While black students have fewer options, parents got out when they could. That’s why the Biden administration is going after charter schools, a popular alternative among black parents, and why its allied activists are hitting homeschooling and religious schools.

The common denominator here is getting escaped slaves back to the public school plantation.

Or, as the New York Times puts, “State education officials have appointed a task force to investigate the decline and to try to determine the whereabouts of unaccounted-for students and their reasons for leaving the public school system.” But the reasons are abundantly obvious.

New York took a 6% hit in enrollment, the highest in the country, with California in fourth place, while Florida, Texas and South Dakota had some of the best numbers.

The American Enterprise Institute found that mostly remote schools lost four times as many students as schools that remained mostly in-person. Remote learning was never about public safety, it was one of a million concessions to the corrupt quid-pro-quo influence of unions.

But this was the one that broke the public school system in the only way they care about.

Biden is going to war against parents who opted out of the public school plantation because he and his party desperately need every advantage that they can get in 2022 and 2024. Having already destroyed public education, they’re out to destroy private education too.

Daniel Greenfield

End the Culture War; Separate School and State

A Florida bill restricting classroom instruction regarding sexuality in kindergarten through third grade has become the latest culture war skirmish.

Supporters of the bill say government schools have no business being involved in this type of instruction with young students. They make a good point. The use of government power to indoctrinate children in certain political and social beliefs — regardless of the wishes of parents — is a major problem.

While the instruction at issue in Florida is associated with efforts of leftists, the temptation to seek to achieve ideological objectives through education policy can be strong among conservatives as well.

The Ohio legislature is considering a bill similar to the Florida bill. Because the Ohio bill applies to private schools participating in Ohio’s taxpayer-funded school voucher program in addition to government schools, conservative legislators supporting the Ohio bill are vindicating the warning of conservatives and libertarians that allowing government to subsidize private school tuition would lead to government control of private schools.

Other conservatives are trying to force schools to adopt a “patriotic” curriculum. This is just as pernicious as leftists’ efforts to force schools to teach critical race theory. Students indoctrinated in critical race theory will graduate believing that white male capitalists are the source of all evil. Students indoctrinated in “patriotism” will graduate believing every bit of propaganda sponsored by the war party and will smear all dissenters from the “party line” as unpatriotic spreaders of disinformation from Russia or whatever country replaces Russia as global enemy number one.

In a free society, parents — not politicians, bureaucrats, or teachers unions — would control education. Parents would decide whether and when their children’s education will include topics like sexuality, race theory, and the evidence for and against Darwinism.

Parents’ demand that their children receive a quality education reflecting the parents’ values could be met by a free market if the government got out of the way. A free-market education system would provide parents with a variety of options, including religious and secular private schools, community-based schools, and homeschooling.

People searching for a quality homeschooling program that incorporates libertarian ideas without ever sacrificing education for indoctrination should look into my homeschooling curriculum.

The Ron Paul Curriculum provides students with a well-rounded education that includes rigorous programs in history, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences. The curriculum also provides instruction in personal finance. Students can develop superior communication skills via intensive writing and public speaking courses. Another feature of my curriculum is that it provides students the opportunity to create and run their own businesses.

The government and history sections of the curriculum emphasize Austrian economics, libertarian political theory, and the history of liberty. However, unlike government schools, my curriculum never puts ideological indoctrination ahead of education. Interactive forums provide students with the opportunity to interact with their peers outside of a formal setting.

I encourage all parents looking to provide their children with an indoctrination-free education to go to RonPaulCurriculum.com for more information about my homeschoolirobertsng program.

Paul Craig Roberts

The Big Money Behind the Push for 1619 Project Education

Many people have become aware of how Mark Zuckerberg’s Center for Technology and Life nonprofit foundation influenced the 2020 elections.

But few are aware of how his company, Meta, and other far-left companies are also underwriting 1619 Project educational indoctrination programs for future voters. Taxpayers help subsidize these efforts. Those who profit are the world’s largest publisher, Penguin Random House, and the global media company, the New York Times, whose newspaper has the second-highest circulation in the nation.

The New York Times, a for-profit company, had its product promoted by a nonprofit company, the Pulitzer Center, which designed the prepackaged curriculum and pushed it, unvetted, into 3,500 schools immediately after the 1619 Project was published as a special issue of the August 18, 2019, New York Times Magazine. Coincidentally, Sam DolnickNew York Times assistant managing editor, sits on the board of the Pulitzer Center. The Pulitzer Center also posts promotional materials, such as editor Jake Silverstein’s op-ed touting the 1619 Project books and webinars on teaching the 1619 Project, where subscriptions for the newspaper are pushed to teachers.

Penguin Random House, which published The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, a picture book, and The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, a pseudo-scholarly, 500-page neo-Marxist expansion of the magazine (copyright held by the New York Times) also enjoys the services of the Pulitzer Center to market its books to educators and librarians, and to fight laws intended to keep it away from students.

Penguin Random House also exploits nonprofit opportunities to sell its books. Markus Dohle, the CEO of the German group Bertelsmann that owns Penguin Random House, donated $500,000 via the nonprofit Dohle Book Defense Fund to PEN America to fight “censorship.” As Daniel Greenfield has written, Penguin Random House specializes in publishing racist “anti-racist” tracts by Robin DiAngelo, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Ibram X. Kendi, and pushes them into schools. Kendi’s screed, “Progress,” which refers back to his own book Stamped, appears in The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. Before publishing The 1619 Project books, Penguin had quickly produced a collection edited by Kendi and Keisha Blain (University of Pittsburgh history professor, who, in the Nation claimed that the “obsession over critical race theory is a new manifestation” of  “anti-Blackness and anti-intellectualism”). Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, featured short knock-off essays by contributors to the 1619 Project and mostly far-leftists, such as Donna Brazile, the Democrat Party-Clinton operative, New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie, radical academics Robin D.G. Kelley and Peniel Joseph, Sherrilyn Ifill, Barbara Smith (on the Combahee River Collective), Black Panther and Communist Angela Davis (on “The Crime Bill”) and “Black Lives Matter” founder, Alicia Garza. Most recently, Greenfield has exposed how the company is remaking Dr. Seuss into an avatar of social justice.

Prior to release of the two 1619 Project books in November, the publisher had set up a deal for getting “woke” followers of Hannah-Jones to buy copies and donate them to schools and libraries, where laws addressing curriculum do not apply. This was through a nonprofit, diversebooks.org, which was largely funded by Penguin Random House. By March 1, more than 6,000 books had been bought and donated through retailers at bookshop.org.

The Pulitzer Center, which has enjoyed the largesse of Democrat donor Pierre Omidyar and funding from the Zuckerberg Foundation, has served as the clearinghouse for 1619 Project educational materials.

The Pulitzer Center also helped Penguin Random House by running a pilot program that gave advance copies of the book to 35 educators in fifteen states and the District of Columbia. Last month a post-pilot education conference  hosted by the Pulitzer Center revealed how these two books are intended to be used. (Penguin Random House has also provided free, downloadable educational guides written by Learning for Justice, the educational arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center.) Penguin Random House, which certainly wants to get its books to every student, provided the moderator, Allan Spencer.

The webpage for the conference describes Meta, “formerly Facebook,” as “lead supporter” for the 1619 Project Educational Materials Collection at the Pulitzer Center. Additional funding comes from “Humanity United, the Trellis Fund, the Art for Justice Fund, Open Society Foundations [Soros], The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.” The 1619 Project creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has appeared on several of the Pulitzer Center webinars (alongside teachers union president Randi Weingarten and others) to encourage and instruct teachers on using the materials. Teachers have received $5,000 grants to implement the materials and write lessons.

A good part of the Pulitzer Center’s mission these days is “resisting” state laws against the use of the 1619 Project in classroom instruction. So efforts are being made to get the books to other students and in other ways—such as in libraries, and after-school and prison programs. One of the sessions involved a Stetson University program advertised as offering “quality liberal arts education” to inmates at Florida’s Tomoka Correctional Institution. The presentation by  Andy Eisen, who teaches history, and Pamela Cappas-Toro, professor of World Languages and Cultures, offered a view into the three-day “mini-unit,” Public History and The 1619 Project, created by the non-profit Community Education Project program. As one of the assignments, involving inmate-students collecting information about their sugar consumption from products in the commissary and linking results back to sugar plantations that relied on slave labor revealed, the program has little to do with history, languages, or the liberal arts. It follows, instead, the 1619 Project mantra, that every injustice in the world—down to availability of sugary snacks in a prison commissary—has its roots in slavery.

From Texas, a state that has passed anti-CRT/1619 Project bills, Amanda Vickery, professor of education at the University of North Texas, served on the panel, “Teaching the Next Generation of Teachers, The 1619 Project Books in Schools of Education,” and was commended for her bravery and dedication to “resistance.” She described how she used the free copies in classes for her future teachers. As typical, the idea of historical accuracy was not even broached. Instead, Vickery expressed the reigning 1619 Project idea that history is merely an expression of “power,” with competing narratives, and the importance of students telling their own stories. (Such standards presumably justify the (false) claim in the picture book that “white people” went into Africa and kidnapped “mommies” and “daddies” in order to make them slaves.)

Unfortunately, a number of history professors are supporting the 1619 Project. Not surprisingly, as revealed in The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, such Marxists as Gerald Horne and Eric Foner have advised the 1619 Project from the beginning! Johns Hopkins University history professor Martha S. Jones has jumped on board, contributing essays to both book collections, on  “The American Revolution” and “citizenship,” and making frequent appearances. She gave the keynote address at the conference, but revealed the ahistorical purpose; the 1619 Project, she told teachers, was meant to “challenge us to engage in a powerful thought experiment.”

A number of teachers shared how they used the materials in their classes (one of which was described as 99 percent black with most of the students lagging several grades in reading ability). One teacher used the Project to help instill in her students the idea that they were descended from African “kings and queens” (though not apparently that kings and queens in Africa owned slaves which were often sacrificed in funeral rituals for royalty).

As one reader told me about the use of the 1619 Project in his child’s high school class, the aim is to set students against each other by race. Criticisms or disagreements are cast as evidence of the student’s racism. I advised the student to use the sources in my book, Debunking The 1619 Project, to rebut the claims being made.

Everyone from kindergarteners to inmates are being targeted for indoctrination by companies that are profiting from an alliance with non-profits funded by left-wing political operatives—and taxpayers, against their wishes and the law. Taxpayers subsidize what these companies would normally contribute to the tax base but which they loop into tax-free subsidies to market their own products, as Penguin Random House does with Diverse Books and the Dohle Book Defense Fund. Education professors use class time in state universities to push Random House’s books to future teachers. Woke librarians eagerly accept donated books.

Recently, Hannah-Jones on Twitter asked professors to share how they use the 1619 Project. A sampling of the responses is alarming. In addition to being used in history and education courses, the 1619 Project is infusing English, paralegal studies, sociology, public health policy, and who knows what else.

Alarmingly, according to The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, more 1619 Project books are in the works. It may seem amazing that the one magazine issue has had such an impact. But it should not be, when you consider that two of the biggest and most powerful media companies in the world are behind it.

Mary Grabar, Ph.D., is a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization and the author of Debunking The 1619 Project: Exposing the Plan to Divide America and Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America.

Leaving Public Education: A Way to Shield your Children from Critical Race Theory

The introduction of politicized education ideas like “critical race theory” into the curriculum of government schools is a major reason for American public school systems’ decline. In many schools, political agendas have been crowding out what many parents understand as the primary purpose of schools — educating students in core subjects such as reading, mathematics, and science.

US government data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicates that, as of 2019, only 37 percent of American high school seniors were proficient in reading. The results drop to 24 percent in math and 22 percent in science. The root of the problem is government’s near monopoly of education that means there is little to no incentive to stop federal, state, and local “educrats” from imposing the latest education fads on students. Any attempts by government to “fix” education, such as No Child Left Behind or Common Core, inevitably fail.

The replacement of education with indoctrination is one reasons many parents are pulling their children out of public schools to homeschool. Of course, one main reason for the growth in homeschooling is the covid lockdowns and mask and vaccine mandates. Restrictions at schools have been especially absurd since children have tended to be in little danger from covid.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. However, the authoritarians who believe children’s education must be controlled by “experts” are constantly trying to undermine homeschoolers. Sometimes homeschoolers’ enemies are aided by well-intentioned homeschooling supporters. For example, there is a bill pending in the Alabama state legislature that would make homeschoolers eligible for taxpayer funding. Homeschooling advocates supporting this bill forget that government funding is inevitably accompanied by government control. Thus, any homeschooling family that accepts government money is inviting the government to tell them how to educate their children. Further, some school districts use truancy laws to harass homeschoolers. States also make parents prove homeschool students are receiving an education that meets state standards.

Fortunately, as homeschooling has become a more popular choice, many new resources have become available to aid parents who desire to homeschool their children. Among these resources is the Ron Paul Curriculum.

Students using my homeschooling curriculum can attain a superior education in comparison to standards set by politicians or bureaucrats. Instead of indoctrinating students with instruction in subjects including critical race theory, my curriculum provides students with a solid education in history, literature, mathematics, and the sciences. It also gives students the opportunity to create their own websites and internet-based businesses. The curriculum is designed to be self-taught, with students helping and learning from each other via online forums.

Starting in fourth grade, students are required to write at least one essay a week. Students are required to post their essays on their blogs. Students also take a course in public speaking.

The curriculum does emphasize the history, philosophy, and economics of liberty, but it never substitutes indoctrination for education. The goal is to produce students with superior critical thinking skills who can thrive with their individuality.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

Destroy the Public-School Systems

A local Fox affiliate reports that last year in Baltimore’s largest high school, 77 percent of students graduated reading at an elementary-school level, and many of them at a kindergarten level. Only twelve students at the school were at grade level — that’s under 2 percent. And it was a whistleblower who came forward with this information:

A Baltimore City teacher comes forward with devastating information, showing 77 percent of students tested at one high school, are reading at an elementary school level

The teacher works at Patterson High School, one of the largest high schools in Baltimore with a 61 percent graduation rate and a nearly $12 million budget. We agreed not to identify this source who fears retribution for giving Project Baltimore the results of iReady assessments.

“Our children deserve better. They really do,” the Patterson High School teacher told Project Baltimore. “As a whole, the system has failed them.”

The teacher is a hero. It is a shame that the teacher, and not the administrators, is the one terrified about retribution. Public schools such as Patterson have a state-compelled monopoly on education that traps kids in their perpetually failing institutions. And the more funding they get, the worse they perform. Last year, the Baltimore public-school system — which functioned remotely most of the time — had a $1.4 billion budget for only 78,000 students.

From a devastating piece by Adam Andrzejewski at Forbes:

CEO Sonja Santelises ($339,028) and her chief of staff, Alison Perkins-Cohen ($198,168), collectively earned nearly $700,000 in pay, perks, pension funding, and health insurance benefits.

Santelises’ cash compensation was more than $126,000 higher than that of the U.S. Secretary of Education, a cabinet-level position.

Chief of Schools John Davis made $218,303 in base salary alone. Tina Hike Hubbard, the “Chief Communications & Community Engagement Officer” earned $194,283.

Other highly compensated employees included Jeremy Grant-Skinner, the “Chief Human Capital Officer” ($194,283); Lynette Washington, the Chief Operating Officer ($194,283); Theresa Jones, the “Chief Achievement & Accountability Officer” ($192,827); and Maryanne Cox, the Deputy Chief Financial Officer ($192,827).

In a marketplace, all these people would have lost their jobs a long time ago. It’s not the salaries that are the problem. It’s the failure of the system they oversee.

Few things have undermined minorities over the past 40 years more than inner-city public-school systems. Rich and middle-class Americans already have school choice. They can move. Neighborhoods with high-performing systems have far higher homes values, shutting poorer people out. Teachers’ unions use tax dollars, often through compelled dues, to help elect politicians who preserve the status quo — which, functionally, is the racial segregation of schools.

One of the most popular arguments against school choice is that granting parents the freedom to pick better schools would only weaken traditional ones. Well, imagine making this argument about any other area of life: “Hey, you can’t leave this supermarket because we’re going to suck even more.” No one would accept that logic. Yet they do for their kids’ education. Maybe when 77 percent of high-school graduates can’t make it through Goodnight Moon, someone will do something. We’re not that far off.

David Arsanyi

I’m a Public School Teacher, and the Kids Aren’t Alright

My students were taught to think of themselves as vectors of disease. This has fundamentally altered their understanding of themselves.

I am proud to be a teacher. I’ve worked in the Canadian public school system for the past 15 years, mostly at the high school level, teaching morals and ethics.

I don’t claim to be a doctor or an expert in virology. There is a lot I don’t know. But I spend my days with our youth and they tell me a lot about their lives. And I want to tell you what I’m hearing and what I’m seeing.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, when our school went fully remote, it was evident to me that the loss of human connection would be detrimental to our students’ development. It also became increasingly clear that the response to the pandemic would have immense consequences for students who were already on the path to long-term disengagement, potentially altering their lives permanently.

The data about learning loss and the mental health crisis is devastating. Overlooked has been the deep shame young people feel: Our students were taught to think of their schools as hubs for infection and themselves as vectors of disease. This has fundamentally altered their understanding of themselves.

When we finally got back into the classroom in September 2020, I was optimistic, even as we would go remote for weeks, sometimes months, whenever case numbers would rise. But things never returned to normal.

When we were physically in school, it felt like there was no longer life in the building. Maybe it was the masks that made it so no one wanted to engage in lessons, or even talk about how they spent their weekend. But it felt cold and soulless. My students weren’t allowed to gather in the halls or chat between classes. They still aren’t. Sporting events, clubs and graduation were all cancelled. These may sound like small things, but these losses were a huge deal to the students. These are rites of passages that can’t be made up.

In my classroom, the learning loss is noticeable. My students can’t concentrate and they aren’t doing the work that I assign to them. They have way less motivation compared to before the pandemic began. Some of my students chose not to come back at all, either because of fear of the virus, or because they are debilitated by social anxiety. And now they have the option to do virtual schooling from home.

One of my favorite projects that I assign each year is to my 10th grade students, who do in-depth research on any culture of their choosing. It culminates in a day of presentations. I encourage them to bring in music, props, food—whatever they need to immerse their classmates in their specific culture. A lot of my students give presentations on their own heritage. A few years back, a student of mine, a Syrian refugee, told her story about how she ended up in Canada. She brought in traditional Syrian foods, delicacies that her dad had stayed up all night cooking. It was one of the best days that I can remember. She was proud to share her story—she had struggled with homesickness—and her classmates got a lesson in empathy. Now, my students simply prepare a slideshow and email it to me individually.

My older students (grades 11 and 12) aren’t even allowed a lunch break, and are expected to come to school, go to class for five and a half hours and then go home. Children in 9th and 10th grades have to face the front of the classroom while they eat lunch during their second period class. My students used to be able to eat in the halls or the cafeteria; now that’s forbidden. Younger children are expected to follow the “mask off, voices off” rule, and are made to wear their masks outside, where they can only play with other kids in their class. Of course, outside of school, kids are going to restaurants with their families and to each other’s houses, making the rules at school feel punitive and nonsensical.

They are anxious and depressed. Previously outgoing students are now terrified at the prospect of being singled out to stand in front of the class and speak. And many of my students seem to have found comfort behind their masks. They feel exposed when their peers can see their whole face.

Around this time of year, we start planning for the prom, which is held in June. Usually, my students would already be chatting constantly about who’s asking who, what they’re planning on wearing, and how excited they are. This year, they’ve barely discussed it at all. When they do, they tell me that they don’t want to get their hopes up, since they’re assuming it will get cancelled like it has for the past couple of years.

It’s the same deal with universities. My students say, “If university is going to be just like this then what’s the point?” I have my own children, a nine-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son, who have spent almost a third of their lives in lockdown. They’ve become so used to cancellations that they don’t even feel disappointed anymore.

I think all of my students are angry to some degree, but I hear it most from the kids who are athletes. They were told that if they got the vaccine, everything would go back to normal, and they could go back to the rink or the court. Some sports were back for a while but, as of Christmas, because of the recent wave of Covid-19 cases, club and varsity sports are all cancelled once again. A lot of the athletes are missing chances to get seen by coaches and get scholarships.

I try to take time at the beginning of class to ask my kids how they’re doing. Recently, one of my 11th grade students raised his hand and said that he wasn’t doing well, that he doesn’t want to keep living like this, but that he knows that no one is coming to save them. The other kids all nodded in agreement. They feel lied to—and I can’t blame them.

What’s most worrisome to me is that they feel deep worry and shame over the prospect of breaking the rules.

Teenage girls are notoriously empathetic. I see that many of my students, but especially the female ones, feel a heavy burden of responsibility. Right before Christmas, one of my brightest 12th graders confided in me that she was terrified of taking her mask off. She told me that she didn’t want to get anyone sick or kill anybody. She was worried she would be held responsible for someone dying.

What am I supposed to say? That 23 children have died from Covid in Canada during the whole of the pandemic and she is much more likely to kill someone driving a car? That kids in Scandinavia, Sweden, and the Netherlands largely haven’t had to wear masks at school and haven’t seen outbreaks because of it? That masks are not a magic shield against the virus, and that even if she were to pass it along to a classmate, the risk of them getting seriously sick is minuscule?

But I am expected to enforce the rules.

At the beginning of the pandemic, adults shamed kids for wanting to play at the park or hang out with their friends. We kept hearing, “They’ll be fine. They’re resilient.” It’s true that humans, by nature, are very resilient. But they also break. And my students are breaking. Some have already broken.

When we look at the Covid-19 pandemic through the lens of history, I believe it will be clear that we betrayed our children. The risks of this pandemic were never to them, but they were forced to carry the burden of it. It’s enough. It’s time for a return to normal life and put an end to the bureaucratic policies that aren’t making society safer, but are sacrificing our children’s mental, emotional, and physical health.

Our children need life on the highest volume. And they need it now.

Stacey Lance

Teachers’ Unions Harming Our Children

It is now a quantifiable fact that school closures do more harm than good. We have test scores, increased suicide rates, mental health decreases, and more warning signals from the New York Times to the Democrats. We know that prolonged closures adversely affect our children and that the unions in Chicago and elsewhere pushing for remote learning are doing everything they can to keep children out of schools.null

While the mental, academic, and social health of all of our children is important, there is a demographic of students who suffer the most: Children with special needs.

Students who fall on the autism spectrum, students who need accommodations, and students who generally just need extra support in the classroom are now left without because there is no classroom to be in and no help at home. While no one knows their child and his or her needs better than their parents, and the parents can provide some support at home, there are very talented, very well trained professionals at school who have dedicated their lives to helping these students get the most out of an education system that is built for the average, everyday kid – not the kid with exceptionalities.

Sometimes, these professionals and the services a school district provides are the only things standing between a student with special needs and the system leaving them behind.

This isn’t just about coursework, either. School is sometimes the only other place besides home where a child learns social cues, human interaction, and healthy emotional development. I’ve written about this before, but it’s especially true for these students. You have to have human interaction outside of your family in order to develop socially and emotionally, and for many students with needs beyond what the average student requires, school is the place where not just their social and emotional development, but indeed their very understanding of even basic social cues, can occur.

Students who are on the spectrum, for example, can struggle a lot with this. Others, kids with physical barriers like poor vision or hearing, need to be trained to pick up on things that most kids can easily interpret. Then, there are professionals in speech development who can offer the training students need to overcome speech barriers – training that parents may struggle to teach or may not have time to give in the midst of everything else that is part of parenting.

If you have never had the opportunity to work with or see some of these children in a school setting, what you have not witnessed is both the struggle that can take place and the absolute perseverance of these children. They fight, at times much harder than anyone will ever truly know, and when they find their success and achieve their goals it is one of the best moments you can witness in a child’s life.

But unions are pushing to close schools again. They defy the science. They defy the data. These are people who are fine with kids learning remotely or not learning at all (and, oftentimes, there isn’t much difference) because teaching while people are getting sick is just such a hassle.

Remote/virtual learning is not an education plan. It is, at best, a temporary solution that can be implemented on a school-by-school basis. It is not something that makes sense for entire school systems to adopt long term or for unions to push for. It actively hurts our kids, and while some can handle it in the long run, our most vulnerable children suffer when these decisions are made. That is unacceptable for a profession that is supposed to be serving these children.

Joe Cunningham

Happy Un-woke Year !

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 ManA 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:

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.