Parents didn’t ask to be thrown into the trenches of America’s culture war, but progressives aren’t giving them a choice. Witness the way the national teachers unions are adopting woke values and pressing them into K-12 curriculums across the U.S.
The National Education Association, the largest teachers union, held its annual meeting last week and the measures approved by delegates deserve broader attention. One calls for the union to support and lead campaigns that “result in increasing the implementation of culturally responsive education, critical race theory, and ethnic (Native people, Asian, Black, Latin(o/a/x), Middle Eastern, North African, and Pacific Islander) Studies curriculum in pre- K-12 and higher education.”
Critical theory is a neo-Marxist ideology that is pervasive in higher education and teaches that a person is defined above all else by race, gender and sexual orientation, and that American institutions are designed to ensure white supremacy and “the patriarchy.”
The delegates also directed the NEA to lobby for “professional development around cultural responsiveness, implicit bias, anti-racism, trauma-informed practices, restorative justice practices and other racial justice trainings” for “all school employees.” The delegates called for similar training for students. Just what second-graders need: instruction on how to distrust kids with different skin colors.
Another delegate-approved measure calls for the union to issue a study criticizing “empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society.”
Another approved statement asks the union to “join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project” to hold a rally on
birthday, honor other victims of police violence, and promote “a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression.” That’s Zinn as in
the late radical whose history of the United States boils down to one long tale of the people versus the oppressors in power.
And don’t forget the call for the union to share resources for “decolonizing the curriculum” with educators to use in the classroom. The list goes on.
This is no mere academic exercise. NEA convention delegates may be more committed to this ideological mission than most members, but the union represents three million educators nationwide. The delegates will return to their school districts as administrators, principals and teachers to spread this message of American oppression and “anti-Indigeneity.” Union dues will promote these causes.
Believe it or not, union leaders claim that parents who oppose any of this are motivated by hate and are assaulting free speech. In a speech Tuesday, American Federation of Teachers President
claimed that “culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism or discrimination as CRT to try to make it toxic” and “bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history.” She likened the backlash to historical revisionism in the Soviet Union and other repressive regimes.
But no one is opposed to teaching about America’s difficult racial history, including the evils of slavery and
What parents are awakening to is that their children are being told the lie that America has made little or no racial progress and therefore its legal, economic and political systems must be turned upside down.
Ms. Weingarten must have in the mind those Soviets in Loudoun County, Va., where five families sued last month over school district policies and practices that are rooted in critical race theory. The families claim that administrators chilled speech and discriminated against non-minority students. Watch for similar suits elsewhere. The unions are upset because such parental pushback threatens their control over instruction in schools.
All of this shows how far the teachers unions have strayed from their original mission of fighting for better pay and pensions. The NEA and AFT have become the ideological and institutional vanguard of progressive politics. They are a powerful wing of the Democratic Party, and in President
and his wife
they have the most powerful allies.
Voters need to understand the ideological motivations at work in these unions and how that will affect what their children and grandchildren are taught. Parents have every right, even a duty, to fight back against this invasion of progressive politics in their schools.
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Appeared in the July 8, 2021, print edition.