Recently, an assistant school principal in Greenwich, Connecticut was caught on video avowing that he hires only progressive teachers. He explained that he won’t hire Catholics because they are too rigid, nor older teachers since they are too set in their ways, for him to be able to bend them to his mission of progressive education.
In Greenwich, he is probably an outlier. I live in Greenwich, and I have a second grader in the school system. He has had two great teachers and is just starting with a third of apparent great promise. Yet, most of the progressive education mischief occurs in higher grades, so I will reserve judgment.
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The reality is that this is not a Greenwich issue. It is a national issue, more precisely a Beltway issue. The national teacher unions headquartered in Washington DC and the Biden Administration are very clearly pushing a left-wing agenda. The unions and Biden are doing everything possible to inject critical race theory (CRT) into the nation’s public schools, despite all their protestations to the contrary.
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Just a few months into the Biden administration in April of 2021, the federal Education Department placed a proposed rule making into the Federal Register stating that, in awarding federal education grants in American History and Civics Education, it would prioritize federal grants for both teacher training and classroom instruction to projects that “incorporate anti-racist practices into teaching and learning.”
The proposed rule cited the work of one of the most radical progressives as an authoritative basis for the rule: “As the scholar Ibram X. Kendi has expressed… ‘Antiracist ideas argue that racist policies are the cause of racial inequities.’” Kendi is infamous for many incendiary statements such as “The only remedy for racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination.” Apparently, Professor Kendi has never heard the old adage about two wrongs not making a right.
Moving on to the DC headquarters of the national teacher unions, we find the National Education Association adopting a resolution at it 2021 annual meeting: “The NEA will provide an already-created, in-depth, 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, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.” Needless to say, “critiquing” equals repudiation, and opposing a ban on CRT is the same as promoting CRT.
For its part, the American Federation of Teachers is distributing to school districts free books from First Books, a non-profit, which itself is busy distributing for free the books of Professor Kendi.
The Greenwich assistant principal is just a foot soldier in a war being waged from Washington, DC. A recent column in The Wall Street Journal provides a peek at the distribution system from the education generals in DC to the foot soldiers in the field. As one would imagine, there appears to be a constellation of consultants pushing ideology, providing training and distributing instructional materials on CRT and other elements of the extreme progressive agenda.
The Journal reported on a school district in Pennsylvania which contracted with Pacific Education Group for teacher training. The district refused a parent’s request for a copy of the training materials until he sued in federal court and won.
Even after losing the court case and after the training materials became public, the district asserted that “no ‘course, curriculum or program’ in the district ‘teaches Critical Race Theory.’”
The Journal reviewed the materials and concluded that teachers were clearly being trained in CRT. The Journal observed that school districts may “think they can shoo parents away by making a distinction between teacher training and curriculum.” Then, The Journal got to the heart of the matter, “But what is the point of teacher training if not to inform teachers on how they should teach?”
It is clear that CRT and the associated ideological theories are not bubbling up in a ground swell from the grassroots of America. It is being force-fed from Washington, DC.
It is popping up all over the place: mathematics instruction in California; school staffing in Washington State; in elite schools in New York City; in Loudoun County, Va., and Rhode Island; and many other places too numerous to list.
Progressives in Washington DC are behind this push to use public schools as indoctrination centers. When parents push back, progressives call upon federal law enforcement to investigate alleged violence against school boards. The Washington-based the National School Boards Association made such allegations in a letter to Attorney General Garland, requesting an investigation. Garland obliged. Yet, when the NSBA retracted its letter, Garland did not recall the FBI.
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Teaching a Theory so controversial and divisive that it must be disseminated throughout the school system mostly “under the cover of darkness” – i.e. cloaked in denials that it is present or being embraced and taught – is not something that parents should stand for. Parents whose parental rights and authority are being overrun by progressives and teacher unions should push back vigorously.
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Red Jahncke is a nationally recognized columnist, who writes about politics and policy. His columns appear in numerous national publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, USA Today, The Hill, Issues & Insights and National Review as well as many Connecticut newspapers.