Failure to Educate: Racial Justice Propaganda Gets a Boost in Schools
The COVID-19 hysteria has banished millions of school children from classrooms to in-home computer screens, and isolated millions more with little or no formal instruction. But that hasn’t stopped both public and private school leaders and far-left organizations from doubling down on propaganda about “racism and injustice” in America.
Since the 1960s, the concept of racial “equality,” i.e., equal rights for all people as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, has been the accepted norm. The cry today, however, is for “equity,” as in making reparation for past sins—slavery in particular—for which no living human being can reasonably be held accountable. And it goes even further by including the manufactured notion of “systemic racism,” which ignores the tremendous achievements, personal successes, and national recognition of countless African Americans for decades, including the presidency of the United States. The rhetoric of those who promote this notion implies that such gains don’t fit their narrative and are therefore discounted.
The push to fight alleged systemic racism, which burst forth in the wake of the death of George Floyd, has spawned a new avenue for moneymaking at the expense of school children. The Washington Free Beacon noted in a November 30 article that “[T]he perceived need to announce sweeping changes in leadership and curricula has been a boon to the growing diversity-consulting industry, which is designed to profit from racial discontent.” These diversity consultants and “experts” profit from accusations of bias in schools and colleges, assisted by “woke” administrators, faculty members and students eager to ferret out any hint of racial bias or related misconduct. The more paid hacks the schools hire, however, the more such accusations are likely to fly, fueling the fire of activists and increasing the demand for pricey consultants.
Woke Activism in Action
Some of the latest efforts to transform schools with more radical indoctrination include:
- Teaching U.S. history from a purely racial perspective, as promoted by the factually flawed 1619 Project introduced in the New York Times in 2019. The 1619 Project has spread its controversial tentacles throughout the country, influencing curricula in high schools and colleges. (See the book review of 1620 below, which dissects and refutes 1619 Project claims.)
- Bombarding faculty and students with mandatory “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” training.
- Requiring faculty members to read texts supporting the systemic racism theme as part of “professional development.”
- Encouraging students to use social media such as Instagram to expose and shame their peers by posting anonymous accusations of bigotry against them.
- Encouraging the use of diversity consultants and woke constituencies to “identify biases inherent in school structures” and overhaul curricula.
As may be expected, all this wokeness is expensive, and observers are following the money. The Washington Free Beacon, for example, reported that the Loudon County, VA, public school district has paid more than $400,000 “to fund diversity trainings since 2018.” Increasingly nervous private and charter schools are also spending scarce dollars on similar efforts to ward off accusations of bias. The highly rated KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) charter schools have even abandoned their “Work hard. Be nice.” slogan, for fear that it is not enough “to dismantle systemic racism.”
Other race-related efforts may exceed diversity training both in financial cost and level of ridiculousness. For example, Maryland’s Montgomery County School District will spend “more than $450,000” on an “anti-racist audit” to ensure equitable “culture, hiring practices, and pre-K-12 curriculum.” Such an undertaking naturally requires the services of an “anti-racist” consulting firm, which will help tailor the curriculum so that it “strengthens students’ sense of racial, ethnic, and tribal identities, helps students understand and resist systems of oppression, and empowers students to see themselves as change agents.” It’s worth mentioning here that the term “change agent” has long been synonymous with communist activism.
Then there are the movements across the country to rename schools that carry the names of our Founding Fathers, on the assumption that the Founders were racists and/or had once owned slaves. Any suggestion of historical context is dismissed amid the frantic effort to erase America’s past. But perhaps the most outlandish undertaking is one by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which is proposing to remove a 70-ton boulder from campus that some students claim is a symbol of the university’s racist past. The reason for the angst, according to one student’s Twitter account, is that the rock was publicly described “using a racial slur” during the 1920s. The university claims it will use private donations rather than public funds to remove the offending boulder.
Anti-Racism Teacher Training
Teachers are no longer expected merely to treat their students equally, but they must acknowledge their “white privilege.” In the San Diego Unified School District, teachers are required to take “White Privilege” training, during which they are told they should “expect to experience discomfort.” On December 4, SanDiegoNewsDesk.com and The Daily Wire both reported on details of the training, which were leaked by Christopher Rufo, contributing editor of the San Diego City Journal. Rufo uploaded slides from the training presentations to his Twitter account which were subsequently taken down, but not before details of the training were exposed. The presentation opened with an acknowledgement that the teachers were meeting “on stolen land” and continued with discussions about “white culture” and “white fragility.” The latter is an implication that white people are unnerved when forced to confront their “closed-mindedness” and “defensiveness” regarding race. A first-person slide informs teachers that “you are a racist” and “are upholding racist ideas, structures, and policies.”
Interestingly, the euphemism “white fragility” appears in an article on the Teaching Tolerance website, a project of the far-left, race-baiting Southern Poverty Law Center. The article, titled “The Weaponization of Whiteness in Schools,” is anything but tolerant, and describes white fragility this way: “A central tenet of white supremacy… is that white women must be protected from danger, real or imagined, often with violence. So we can’t ignore the fact that white women dominate the field of education. They make up more than 60 percent of U.S. public school teachers. When white women educators call SROs [School Resource Officers] and say they are afraid of their Black students, they are recreating the dynamics that were used as excuses for racial terror.”
While schools, universities, corporations and government agencies have implemented mandatory race-based training similar to that of the San Diego USD, President Trump banned such training at federally funded institutions and agencies in September, after learning of them from the City Journal’s Rufo.
Representatives Gabbard & Mullin Seek to Protect Women’s Sports
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (R-Oklahoma), introduced H.R. 8932 on December 10, which is designed to protect women’s sports from biologically stronger and faster transgender males. The encroachment of biological males into women’s sports has made headlines in recent years, with transgender “women” routinely beating their biologically female competitors. H.R. 8932, aptly called the Protect Women’s Sports Act, is designed to safeguard the protections afforded by Title IX. The bill’s intent reads: “To provide that for purposes of determining compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in athletics, sex shall be determined on the basis of biological sex as determined at birth by a physician.” 116th Congress (2019-2020)
In a press release announcing the bill, Gabbard stated: “Title IX was a historic provision championed by Hawaii’s own Congresswoman Patsy Mink in order to provide equal opportunity for women and girls in high school and college sports. It led to a generational shift that impacted countless women, creating life-changing opportunities for girls and women that never existed before. However, Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes. Our legislation protects Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex. It is critical that the legacy of Title IX continues to ensure women and girls in sports have the opportunity to compete and excel on a level playing field.”
The press release further says that biological males competing in women’s sports “diminishes that equality and takes away from the original intent of Title IX.” Co-sponsor Mullin agrees. “As the father of three girls involved in athletics,” he wrote, “I want them to be able to compete on a level playing field. I am proud to lead this bill that will safeguard the integrity of women’s sports and ensure female athletes can compete fairly.”
The proposed legislation would prohibit schools from receiving federal funds if they allow biological males to participate in sports programs designated for females. Predictably, it is under attack by transgender activists as “blatantly transphobic.” The New York Post quoted former chief programs officer of the LGBTQ rights group, GLAAD, as saying: “Remember when Tulsi Gabbard tried to convince us she was an LGBTQ ally? We knew she was a liar, a fraud.”
Rep. Gabbard entered politics in 2002 when she was elected to the Hawaii state legislature, the youngest person ever elected to office in that state. A military veteran, she is currently serving her fourth term as U.S. Congresswoman from Hawaii’s Second District. Rep. Mullin was elected to Congress in 2012, representing Oklahoma’s Second District. He is one of four Native Americans currently serving in the U.S. House, and is a former Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter. How far their bill will go in Congress remains to be seen, but many supporters of Title IX agree it is necessary to maintain the integrity of women’s sports.
U.S. Congress House Bill 8932; New York Post, 12-11-20
Education News Briefs
A Federal judge in Pennsylvania blocked an order by the U.S. Commerce Department to stop the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok from operating in the United States. Citing the 700 million users of the app worldwide, including 100 million Americans, the judge objected to the order because it would “have the effect of shutting down within the United States, a platform for expressive activity….” The judge further noted that “at least 50 million of these U.S. users use the app on a daily basis.” The fact that TikTok has been under investigation by the U.S. government for posing a threat to national security as well as for collecting information on American users, including millions of underage children, evidently did not impact the judge’s decision. Adding fuel to the fire surrounding TikTok, a Facebook “Fact Checker” just this month was found to be paid at least partially through a partnership with TikTok, and the organization overseeing the quality of Facebook’s Fact Checkers “is run by the Poynter Institute, another TikTok partner.” All this fact-checking masks an effort “to reduce the spread of misinformation” particularly regarding the CCP virus pandemic, which is widely believed to have originated in China and was further magnified by the Chinese government’s coverup. But the U.S. retail giant Walmart may put an end to TikTok’s woes. A preliminary deal is reportedly in the works for Walmart and Oracle Corp. to obtain rights to a new company called TikTok Global, which would “oversee U.S. operations.” Whether or not the new venture diminishes TikTok’s risk to our national security or puts an end to Chinese spying on U.S. users is anyone’s guess, but the Trump administration, including the president himself, is said to be in favor of the deal. Reuters, 11-01-20; The EPOCH Times, 12-10-20
Public school enrollment continues its downward spiral. Many public schools saw a “massive” decline in enrollment this fall, continuing the trend of recent years that spiked with the COVID-19 lockdowns. Corey A. DeAngelis, Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation and Executive Director of the Educational Institute, posted recently on his Twitter account that the number of students transferring to private schools in Massachusetts is “up 80% from last year.” An article in the Massachusetts Commonwealth Journal warned that these declines “could have dire consequences for state education aid allocations to districts next year.” The drop in enrollment is greatest among young children but older students “are also leaving public schools to attend private schools or for homeschooling.” This trend is happening across the country, and 73% of Americans overall have said they favor school choice. New York has lost 31,000 public school students. In Colorado, public schools have lost 30,000 students, allegedly for the first time in 30 years. At the same time, 70 percent of private schools report they are experiencing either steady or increased enrollment. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of homeschooled students has skyrocketed. A poll by Education Week found that homeschooling doubled to nine percent of students in 2020, or about five million children. While educational chaos from the pandemic has been the catalyst for many parents to choose private or home schooling, it’s also a result of the increasingly radical political agenda in the public schools as fostered by the teachers unions. Corey DeAngelis on Twitter; Education Week Poll; RealClear Opinion Poll on School Choice; Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), 12-04-20; Commonwealth Nonprofit Journal, 11-24-20, The Colorado Sun, 12-15-20
1620, A Critical Response to the 1619 Project
Peter W. Wood, Encounter Books, 2020
For those who may be blissfully unaware, Peter Wood’s relatively short yet pivotal book shines a spotlight on the New York Times’ flawed 1619 Project, the goal of which, as the author sums up, “is arguably part of a larger effort to destroy America by people who find our nation unbearably bad.” Wood writes: “The 1619 Project aligns with the views of those on the progressive left who hate America and would like to transform it radically into a different kind of nation.” He uses the title 1620 for his work, not only as a starting point for refuting the factual errors of the 1619 Project, but also to show that the Mayflower Compact signed that year is the true starting point for America’s form of self-government, with its references to godly purpose and ideals loftier than its motley group of signers.
The 1619 Project kicked off in August 2019, purposefully on the 400th anniversary of the landing of an English pirate ship at Jamestown, Virginia containing approximately twenty or so African captives. While the status of these captives is historically unclear—they were not recorded as slaves and are believed to have eventually been set free—the 1619 Project claims that their arrival “inaugurated a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last the next 250 years.”
In announcing the 1619 Project, the nation’s “newspaper of record” released a special 100-page issue of its magazine and an accompanying newspaper supplement with the goal of replacing “traditional conceptions of American history with a history refracted through the lens of black identity politics.” The Times described the project as an effort “to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year” with the arrival of slaves in Virginia. The introductory materials consisted of a series of essays and articles in support of this contention, and the Times’ weekly online newsletter, “Race/Related” continued the narrative.
Rather than adding a fuller account of black history to the established facts of American history, the 1619 Project replaces facts with partial truths and blatant untruths. Its stated tenets are that “Americans have grossly misunderstood the origins and nature of American society, and that slavery is the pivotal institution in American history.”
Wood points out the unusual role of a newspaper in creating such a “history” project, but perhaps it’s easier to understand if the goal is notoriety rather than scholarship, and when one considers the marketing capabilities of the Times as well as its prominence as a media institution. The project has 14 contributors, half of whom are professional journalists and six of whom are Times employees, including its lead architect, Nikole Hannah-Jones. Five are actually historians and one is a practicing attorney. As Wood writes: “The participants weren’t invited for the purpose of summoning intellectually diverse views, but because they were known and could be trusted to stay within an agreed-upon framework. They are advocates for a thesis, and it is a thesis that puts racial grievance at the center of America’s story.”
A network of progressive outlets immediately provided numerous avenues for promotion of 1619, including speaking tours, radio and television interviews for lead writer Hannah-Jones, film and TV series opportunities, and most ominously, an avenue into the schools. Wood provides considerable detail on how the Times partnered with The Pulitzer Center (not affiliated with the organization that awards the Pulitzer Prize) to promote the project, with a key goal to “plant a 1619 curriculum in the schools.”
In addition to the overall premise that the American story began in August of 1619 with the arrival of the first slaves, the 1619 Project contends that the American Revolution was fought solely to prevent Britain from putting an end to slavery in the colonies, that American capitalism began with the Southern plantation system of growing cotton with slave labor, and that President Abraham Lincoln was a racist who had no real interest or intent to grant those who were enslaved real citizenship. These claims prompted a storm of criticism from many prominent historians and scholars, some journalists, and some independent cultural commentators. While Wood recounts their arguments in considerable detail, he likens these critics to moths swarming around a porch light; while their criticisms are mostly valid and in almost any other circumstances would prove devastating, the light continues to shine for the 1619 Project. Regrettably, most Americans’ feeble grasp of our nation’s history, especially over the past 20 years, have rendered 1619’s critics “not voiceless but largely unheeded.”
Nonetheless, the 1619 Project fable has attracted voices of opposition that may yet make a difference, including a few that Wood terms “hard core Marxists.” One opposition project that has resulted is called “1776 Unites,” started by Robert Woodson, founder of the Woodson Center. Woodson assembled a consortium of top black academics, columnists, social service providers, business leaders and clergy, all of whom are critical of the 1619 project and “committed to telling the complete history of America and black Americans from 1776 to the present.”
Peter Wood’s 1620 is also important in that it showcases “the mendacity and manipulation that lie at the heart of the 1619 Project.” In the book’s foreword, one reviewer calls 1620 “a necessary work.” And so it is.