"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 5, 2021

2021 Medley #8 - Learn from the past...or repeat it.

“If Black children are old enough to experience racism, then other children are old enough to learn about critical race theory.”

The latest attack on America's schools is the false claim that we're all teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) in some nefarious plan to indoctrinate children. You've probably seen or read dozens of articles over the past month or two about how school boards are being overwhelmed by patrons talking, debating, and shouting about the teaching of CRT in schools. You've probably noticed that states around the country have passed laws against teaching CRT in K-12 schools (with more being planned). If your interest was piqued, you might have even read one or two articles to discover what all the fuss was about...to explore what Critical Race Theory actually is.

And you might have seen or read about CRT in K-12 education through articles by Diane Ravitch, Peter Greene, Paul Thomas, Steven Singer, or others in the pro-public education blogosphere and learned that CRT is actually not being taught in America's public schools...and there is no nefarious plan to indoctrinate children.

It doesn't matter. Those who object to CRT (including their cable news allies) have redefined it to encompass anything that has to do with race, a Marxist incursion into K-12 education, a communist plot, or any number of other anti-American plots to indoctrinate our children. Even if CRT isn't being taught in America's K-12 classrooms, it is being rebranded as a danger to America.

The protests against the non-existent CRT threat come at the tail-end (hopefully -- but beware, the delta variant) of the coronavirus pandemic...which, in turn, arrived at the end of the previous political administration. Are people more susceptible to conspiracy theories after four years of the Cult of Trump? Are parents so frustrated by the forced educational adjustments of the pandemic that they are exploding in rage at...anything? Are right-wing politicians searching for something to enrage "the base" to replace the declining interest and anger against caravans, Dr. Seuss, socialism, and other political manipulations?

For whatever reason, it's apparently time to attack education -- again.

Since most people share news articles without actually reading them, it's possible that you haven't read anything about Critical Race Theory but the headlines. If that's the case (or even if it's not and you just want more) then here are some interesting pieces about CRT...from sources you might not have seen before.

WHAT IS CRITICAL RACE THEORY

Shouldn't we know what it is before we start protesting against it or supporting it?

Why Everyone Is Wrong About Critical Race Theory In Schools: A Very Special Clapback Mailbag

The Root is an online magazine of African-American culture launched by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Donald E. Graham. This article was written by Michael Harriot.
The problem with this controversy is that there is no controversy. In fact, there are more states who are trying to ban Critical Race Theory than there are schools that teach Critical Race Theory. To understand why the conversation over CRT is stupid, we decided to dismiss the most prevalent assumption about this hot topic.

...Critical Race Theory teaches that ‘America is a racist country’...

It doesn’t.

This assumption is driven by a misrepresentation of one of the foundational principles of CRT–that racism is “ordinary.” This doesn’t mean that every single white person is racist or that every institution in America is racist. However, this means that racism is so common in American society that it is “not remarkable.”
More from The Root
Why White People Hate Critical Race Theory, Explained


Critical Race Theory, Defined: Everyone talks about it, but let’s break down what it means

One complaint about CRT is that it "teachers" about "white privilege."
If you’re like most Americans, you automatically assume that white people are those in power and non-white people are those being controlled. You have this narrative because you’ve been taught through media, experiences, and history that white people deserve to be in control of the United States and non-white people are forced to serve it. That is white supremacy.

Because we are all taught that white people are more deserving than people of color, that belief determines how our entire society operates. Who gets to live in safer housing with cleaner water and healthier food options? Who gets the loan to start their business or buy a house? After birth, which moms’ fears are listened to instead of ignored? Who goes to jail longer for the same offense and sometimes no offense at all? During a global pandemic, who is more likely to work safely from home versus risk their lives to service others?

All of these situations operate on the principle that white people deserve a better quality of life simply because they are white. It does not matter what disadvantages they may have. When it comes to who is deserving and who is not based on race, white people always come out on top. That’s where white privilege comes from.

THE CURRENT CONFLICT

Here are comments about the protests against CRT, laws against CRT, generalized fear of "anti-American" indoctrination, and denial that racism exists.

Late addition: Paul Thomas posted this on Independence Day: Republicans Adopt China’s Approach to Indoctrinating Students
While many conservatives and Republicans have tried to frame China as some sort of threat to the American way of life — notably related to the spread of Covid — the truth is that the Republican Party is practicing China’s indoctrination strategies across the country.

If you don’t want critical race theory to exist, stop being racist
Critical race theory didn’t make Black people critical of white supremacy, racism did. Our ability to create theories and write books — on critical theory or any subject — is a reflection of our rising power in this country. Critical race theorists reflect the analytic reasoning of the enslaved, those subjected to housing and employment discrimination, and basically any person who can see how inequitably privileges and burdens are distributed in the country.

Health policy researcher Ahmed Ali recently tweeted, “If Black children are old enough to experience racism, then other children are old enough to learn about critical race theory.” As long as there is racism, there will be Black people finding ways to understand and dismantle it.

So if you don’t want critical race theory to exist, stop being racist.

Partisan war over teaching history and racism stokes tensions in U.S. schools
Loudoun has been roiled for months by accusations that it has embraced critical race theory, a school of thought that maintains that racism is ingrained in U.S. law and institutions and that legacies of slavery and segregation have created an uneven playing field for Black Americans.

The school system says it is simply training teachers, the majority of whom are white, to be “culturally responsive" to serve the county's increasingly diverse student population.

The tensions in Loudoun echo a larger battle playing out across the country. As Americans tackle racial and social injustice in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd last year, several Republican-led states including Florida, Georgia and Texas have enacted new rules to limit teaching about the role of racism in the United States.

Here's the truth behind the right-wing attacks on critical race theory
"...none of this is really about CRT," James Ford told me in a phone call. Ford is a former North Carolina Teacher of the Year who currently represents the Southwest Education Region on the North Carolina State Board of Education and serves as the executive director of the Center for Racial Equity in Education.

"First, in these calls to stop the teaching of CRT," he said, "there is no clarification of what CRT really is. There's no argumentative critique of the actual concept." Indeed, many of the bills don't even mention the term.

The real target, Ford explained, is "divisiveness." For the people who criticize teachers and promote these bills, Ford believes, there can be "no nuance at all" in discussing "matters of religion and customs and the values of rugged individualism and free-market ideology." There can be no challenges of assumptions and no revising of long-standing mythologies about America and American society.

According to Ford, these people see education as a process about "making kids assimilate," and "simply talking about a subject like pollution takes on a heightened sense of alarm about society being undermined."

HERE'S WHY WE NEED IT

Applaud Juneteenth progress but not pushback on critical race theory: People who are deliberately robbed of their shared history are doomed to be manipulated by those in power, again and again.

Author Heather McGhee writes here about the relationship between CRT (or what people believe CRT to be) and our history of racism. She is the author of The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. Check out her Ted Talk, here.
After generations of historical illiteracy, our country is beginning to own up to our collective inheritance on race.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill to make Juneteenth a national holiday commemorating emancipation. But as we celebrate, a campaign is underway to keep our children ignorant of the more complex racial history that still shapes the country. From the halls of Congress to school boards, some on the right are trying to stifle honest education about racism and the ways it costs us all.

In recent weeks, former Vice President Mike Pence has said that systemic racism is a “left-wing myth.” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has tried to stop a Biden appointee in part because she is a fan of prize-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi, who writes about anti-racism. Conservative donors and political operatives are supporting this agenda as a way to stoke outrage among their base, hoping it will keep them activated for the 2022 midterm elections. It's a political game, but with very real consequences for our children; millions of whom live in the four states that have rushed to pass bans on teachings about systemic racism in schools.

WE HAVE ALL BEEN HERE BEFORE

This is not the first time that right-wing politicians have used "culture wars" to mobilize their voters. Get the people riled up about an imagined "threat" to our "way of life" and win elections. We've been down this road before...many times.

This Critical Race Theory Panic Is a Chip Off the Old Block
This summer’s spate of state-level bills aimed at censoring the content of history teaching in public school classrooms—bills that have made much of the supposed double threat of “critical race theory” and the New York Times’ 1619 Project—might seem somewhat random. But in fact, conservative attacks like these on humanities curricula that discuss race and racism in the United States follow a long-established pattern.

First, right-wing fears are always more about a vague idea of the content of such curricula than about classroom realities. (In Indiana, suburban parents have been “angered” by the supposed presence of critical race theory, or CRT—typically a graduate-level elective offered to law students—in their schools, despite the fact that their schools do not teach it.) Second, because activists on the right view the schools as the grease that makes slopes slippery, they tend to use school curricula to talk about a host of related social issues. (Anti-CRT activists lump together everything they don’t like, from Marxism to Black Lives Matter to progressive education, and call it CRT.) And third, these battles have always been waged over the stories that get told about the American past, present, and future. In that sense, the angry right wing is correct: The stakes couldn’t be higher.

The ACLU on fighting critical race theory bans: ‘It’s about our country reckoning with racism’
A concerted campaign against efforts to address persistent racial inequality has consolidated under the watchword of “critical race theory” (CRT). Once a relatively obscure academic framework for examining the ways in which racism was embedded in US laws and institutions, CRT has been recast by rightwing activists as an omnipresent and omnipotent ideology, one that is anti-American, anti-capitalist and anti-white.

The campaign has been astonishingly effective. Legislation seeking to limit the teaching of CRT or related concepts has been introduced in 22 states in 2021, according to an analysis by the African American Policy Forum, a thinktank led by one of the founders of critical race theory, KimberlΓ© Crenshaw. Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas have all passed anti-CRT laws, and Florida, Georgia and Utah have passed resolutions. Legislators in Alabama and Kentucky have already pre-filed anti-critical race theory bills for the 2022 legislative sessions.

Heated political battles over education have flared up repeatedly throughout US history, according to Adam Laats, a professor of history and education at Binghamton University who said he was nevertheless “surprised by how many local and state laws are getting involved”.

Latts compared the anti-CRT movement to a “similar spate of confused outrage and legislative action” against the theory of evolution in the 1920s...
A PLAN FOR TEACHERS

You're a teacher in a state that has banned CRT...or banned any talk about racism. What should you do?

Teach history.

An Open Letter to American History Teachers: Stop Teaching “Critical Race Theory.”
...let the politicians have their way. Take “critical race theory” out of your lesson plans and just keep teaching American history.

This will require you to show students that racism has always been an ordinary and common part of everyday life in America. Teach them about the Middle Passage, the tobacco fields of colonial Virginia, the rice fields of colonial South Carolina, and the links between the happiness of Pennsylvania grain growers and the oppressive slave regimes on the West Indian sugar islands.

Introduce your students to the voices of enslaved writers and activists like Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Harriett Tubman, and Harriet Jacobs. These men and women have stories to tell that will reveal the daily racism they encountered in the antebellum South. As a history teacher, you know the value and the power of a primary source.

And don’t forget to examine the legacy of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Familiarize your students with redlining in American cities. Read the speeches of the civil rights movement. I know you are already doing this. But always remember: It will be hard for your kids to study these things in your American history class and not come away with the idea that discrimination is built into our institutions and legal codes.

Finally, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah posted this two-minute piece about CRT on their YouTube channel.


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