The COVID pandemic upended every aspect of schooling, family life, and society; it came uninvited, unwanted and with a vengeance never seen by anyone living today. Of all institutions, schools made a superhuman effort to move 50 million children from schools to homes for schooling.
However, another pandemic has surfaced—[Marxist] Critical Race Theory. It’s brewing a heated and emotional battle among parents and boards of education (BOE) spawning over 165 opposing parent groups.
The resistance has nothing to do with teaching the history of racism, but rather what and how it’s being taught.
So why should everyone be concerned?
“A majority of American fourth- and eighth-graders can’t read or do math at grade level, an assessment before the learning losses from school closures…What’s the priority, teaching math and reading, or turning schools into social-justice boot camps? (CRT is a Hustle” (Jason Riley), WSJ, 07/14/2021).
The U.S. ranks 38 out of 71 nations in science, math and reading (2015 PISA), and #4 with PPE at $14,300 (2017).
“High school test scores haven’t improved for 40 years,” (NAEP 2013) (Barshay) Hechinger Report, 6/27/2013.
“Is all the failure in our schools happening by incompetence or intent? INTENT! At the end of each school year many students know hardly more than at the beginning. “The Purpose of Public Schools,” (Price), Ed News, 9/9/2015.
“Public Schools Have Become Socialist Indoctrination Factories,” (Haskins), TownHall, 1/28/2019.
Translated: Schools are not as productive as they should be having moved from ABC’s to socialistic endeavor’s and CRT. Understand this: CRT is not intended to nor will it improve academic performance of students.
Then why is it in the schools?
In fact, the time, effort, and divisiveness will take more time away from academics. Just imagine what the statistics will look like in the next 10-20 years—ABC’s will look like XYZ’s!
In city failing schools known for the school-to-prison-pipeline (SPP), the data is much worse. If reading skills are not at grade level by grade 3 and remediated quickly, black boys particularly are destined for the SPP. The reason is simple: can’t read, can’t learn. The results are evident:
“Of all of the males in federal and state prisons, 80% do not have a diploma. There is a direct correlation with a lack of diploma and incarceration.” (Izza Choudhry), The Spotlight, 3/19/2018.
Instead of intensive reading instruction, the effort is being put into a theory—not facts or academics–that will have no impact on academic success unless data is manipulated (it has been with grade inflation and graduation rates). Yet, socio-economic reasons are typically given as causes for black failures when, in fact, they are conditions that exist. I published a book about this, School Pushouts: A Plague of Hopelessness Perpetrated by Zombie (failing) schools.
Are socio-economic conditions and lack of teachers of color the cause of failing schools? No! New Orleans with extreme poverty had 73% teachers of color, and the poorest academic performance. Hurricane Katrina wiped it out; the state then reorganized it as a charter district with the same socio-economic conditions and a more diverse staff; remarkably, the students are flourishing compared to their previous schooling. The only change was effective instruction. In other words, schooling malpractice was the cause of past failures, and CRT was not required for a turnaround effort.
In practice, the intent of CRT is not to improve academic results but to upend America’s traditions and values “through revolution” if necessary (their words), radicalize schooling, and indoctrinate children with hateful rhetoric that all whites are racist and oppressors of black progress because of systemic racism. Furthermore, since all academics must be viewed through the lens of racism; even math is racist (“objectivity” is a form of white oppression) and, therefore, irrelevant. CRT has not shown any improved academic outcomes. Why should it?
“CRT is a school of thought meant to emphasize the effects of race on one’s social standing. It arose as a challenge to the idea that racial inequality had been solved…” “What’s CRT?” ThoughtCo, 6/11/2021.
The “Bible” for CRT is “How-To-Be An Antiracist,” (Ibram X. Kendi):”
“The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination…”
According to Kendi, “CRT is foundational to his beliefs;” therefore, his book is made CRT toxic; more importantly, discrimination must continue. Does that make any sense?
Guilford is involved in such a dispute with claims by a local No Left Turn in Education group that CRT is being used, but denied by the BOE despite the fact that the superintendent purchased Kendi’s book for all teachers, and White Fragility for administrators, without offering any other competing theories or dogmas. This is prohibited by a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision:
“States are prohibited from requiring …that teaching and learning must be tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma. …or that compels a teacher to teach as true only one theory of a given doctrine.”
Plus, the Fourteenth Amendment: “States and school districts have an obligation to prevent the creation of a learning environment that promotes hostility toward a certain race or sex…”
In addition, the AG of Montana issued a 49-page ruling in May:
“CRT and so-called antiracism programming do discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964…”
Despite the legal rulings, CRT continues with over 4,500 districts jumping onto the runaway train.
Distributing the books was the equivalent of giving each teacher a copy of the Bible; if he had done that, you can imagine the lighting it would have generated. The books tainted the staff, consciously or unconsciously, with one dogma and although it may not have been translated into writing, oral teaching is “curriculum.”
Again, it gets worse, and justifies why parents ignore the denials of BOE’s:
“School District Tells Principals to Create Fake Curriculum To Send Parents After Complaints of Indoctrination,” The Daily Wire, 04/28/2021 (There are more like this).
Apparently, something nasty was being taught that the schools did not want parents to know. How more shameful can it get?
Parents are reacting to the changes in their children’s behaviors that they don’t approve of or like because the inviting words of CRT don’t match the outcomes.
CT is no laggard in advancing the racial agenda having just released an optional Black and Latino Studies curriculum (covered in the Examiner 7/17/21). The content needs to be analyzed more fully, but it would be too lengthy for this op-ed
However, some quick thoughts might help beginning with Martin Luther King: “Judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.” In contrast, CRT is concerned about one’s color and not character, and being oppressed from success due to white racism. Yet, Star Parker, a black journalist reported, “black progress has been substantial.”
There is ample evidence to substantiate the progress made by blacks with uplifting stories of success found in the 1776 Unites program developed by two black known activists; it’s a counter to the 1619 Project that won a Pulitzer prize developed by a NY Times journalist. What’s rather hidden is that the National Association of Scholars penned a letter to the Pulitzer board to rescind the prize because 1619 is full of false and distorted history; of course, it was not rescinded. Yet, schools seem to prefer1619 (hate) to1776 (pride). Why? Is that the purpose of schools?
“CRT Is Divisive and No Cure…”, Red Jahncke, 06/23/2021
“Any version of history so controversial should not be taught in public schools…and 1619 is extreme to the point of invalidity.
Is this what we want taught– that white children should be discriminated against and Black schoolchildren should advance because of the sins of white ancestors and the oppression of Black ancestors?”
The Ethics and Public Policy Center says it best: “Stopping K-12 Indoctrination is Right,” (Stanley Kurtz), 7/6/2021:
“K–12 students are vulnerable to a teacher’s authority. Telling minors that they should feel guilt or responsibility because of their skin color is a line that should not be crossed by any district.
With indoctrination slipping its campus redoubt to strike at America’s schoolchildren, the game has rightly changed. The acolytes of CRT have traveled a bridge too far.”
There are far more reasons to keep it out of schools e.g. what seems forgotten is that the teachers are returning from a very difficult teaching experience and putting a CRT agenda on their backs should be unthinkable. Furthermore, the divisiveness it has caused thus far is unprecedented in schools that have needs of higher priority!
As a retired school superintendent and lifetime CT resident, I am ashamed by what’s been happening to our schools with politics trampling on the acute need for academic improvements, particularly in urban schools. CRT will not improve their academic demise.
Armand A. Fusco, Ed.D.
Armand Fusco served as superintendent of schools in Branford, CT from 1985-1992