A majority of American fourth- and eighth-graders can’t read or do math at grade level, according to the Education Department. And that assessment is from 2019, before the learning losses from pandemic school closures.
Whenever someone asks me about critical race theory, that statistic comes to mind. What’s the priority, teaching math and reading, or turning elementary schools into social-justice boot camps?
Given that black and Hispanic students are more likely to be lagging academically, it’s a question that anyone professing to care deeply about social inequality might consider.
Recently, the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, announced that they had jumped on the bandwagon. The NEA pledged to “fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric” and issue a study that “critiques 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.” There was no proposal vowing to improve math and reading test scores, alas.
The AFT has joined forces with Ibram X. Kendi, an activist-scholar who openly embraces racial discrimination against whites. The union announced that it will donate copies of his writings to schools, AFT members, educators and youth mentors.
Mr. Kendi is using trendy language—“antiracism,” “implicit bias,” etc.—critical race theory amounts to little more than a fancy argument for affirmative action, and always has. The theory is less a serious academic discipline than a hustle. It posits that racial inequality today is the sole fault of whites and the sole responsibility of whites to solve—through racial preferences for blacks. Ultimately, it’s about blaming your problems on other people—based on their race—which might be the last thing we should be teaching our children.
Read the full column in The Wall Street Journal
Jason Riley is an opinion columnist at The Wall Street Journal, where his column, Upward Mobility, has run since 2016. He is also a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and provides television commentary for various news outlets.