At almost all levels of education, guilt is “in.”
Middle-schoolers have been given English assignments that include listening to a woman who said that white people were oppressors, that they needed to “deconstruct” the American system, and that all whites had to acknowledge their “privilege.”
High-schoolers have been taught that the traditional family reinforces racist prejudices.
In both public and private schools, far too many families are reporting that children as young as five years old are being taught that America’s culture and institutions are rigged to help whites succeed, that they are victimizers if they’re white, and doomed to failure if they’re Black.
These are some of the elements of critical race theory (CRT) that have begun to jump from college campuses to our grade schools — and they are the textbook definition of racism.
No one would argue that children shouldn’t be thoroughly taught about the evils of racism, slavery, and segregation that happened in this country. But CRT ignores the hundreds of thousands of lives that were sacrificed during the Civil War to end slavery, the long struggle of the civil rights movement to end segregation and win equality, and the reality that the nation has made great progress.
Many parents have been afraid to speak out against CRT for fear of being labeled racist. As the former Deputy Chief of Staff for the US Department of Education — and a parent — I care deeply about the relationship between families and teachers. In our recent survey on civics and critical race theory, we discovered that both parents and teachers” agree that civics curricula should focus primarily on “the rights and duties of citizenship” rather than on critical race theory — the ideology that teaches that people are either oppressed or oppressors based on the color of their skin.
No matter your race, it’s our moral obligation to push back against a doctrine that divides our nation and invokes hopelessness. We must also teach the truth of America’s heritage — its imperfections as well as its remarkable strengths.
One parent who had the courage to speak up at a school board meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia, was Xi Van Fleet. She had grown up in China under tyrant Mao Zedong and was all too familiar with critical race theory’s Marxist roots. She told the board, “We are teaching our children to be social justice warriors and to loathe our country and our history. Growing up in China, all of this sounds very familiar. The communist regime used the same critical theory to divide people. The only difference is that used class instead of race. This is indeed the American version of the Chinese cultural revolution.”
Many school boards are denying that they’re teaching elements of CRT. Whether it’s presented and wrongly disguised as “diversity and inclusion” or other euphemistic terms, evidence abounds that CRT is spreading in schools. You can spot it based on several characteristics. Here are just a few.
First, CRT’s key assertion is that racism is systemic — embedded in America’s legal system, institutions, and the free-enterprise system. It says the world is divided between the oppressors and those they oppress (most non-whites) and that the system is rigged to reward white behavior and preserve white supremacy. Adherents advocate dismantling the entire American system — our laws, traditions, institutions, and even free enterprise.
Second, since CRT’s proponents believe the whole system is rotten, they also teach that concepts like being on time, hard work, and literacy are “white values” designed to keep whites on top, so minorities must reject them.
Third, CRT promotes the narrative that all white people are born with privilege that gives them advantages that non-whites can never have, so people of color will never succeed.
A fourth characteristic of CRT is that it pushes equity instead of equality. Nothing under heaven has the power to guarantee equal outcomes. Policies that insist on this impossible goal will inevitably result in discriminatory practices.
So what can we do to stop the toxic outcomes of this philosophy?
Don’t look for government to stop it on its own, because many government officials support CRT. That leaves it to parents and taxpayers to speak out by engaging elected officials and local school boards. Our research confirms parents are willing to help to improve the quality of civics education that their children receive, and to foster an appreciation for the nation’s founding principles, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
School boards determine the content of the curriculum in their districts, so that’s one of the best places to start:
• Identify and attend board meetings.
• Keep up with board activities by reading the meeting minutes (usually posted online after the meeting).
• Become familiar with textbooks being used in schools as well as good alternatives.
• Get involved in the Parent Teacher Association/Organization.
• Serve as the front-line resource for your children.
For years, parents have been concerned that too many grade schools and universities have served more as indoctrination centers than institutions of learning. But with CRT, more parents seem to be pushing back. Perhaps CRT has gone far enough to have awakened a sleeping giant.
• A Heritage Foundation vice president, Angela Sailor heads the think tank’s Edwin J. Feulner Institute.