Biden administration poised to impose CRT on American public schools

April 20, 2021 • 10:15 am

“CRT”, of course, is Critical Race Theory, which rests on a number of assumptions and assertions that are sometimes dubious (e.g., inequality of representation purely reflects current racism). When Biden got elected, I worried—and, I think, predicted—that he would be too woke for my taste. (I may not remember correctly.) And, sure enough, that’s exactly what is happening on a number of fronts. I hasten to add that Biden and Harris are infinitely better than Trump and Pence.  I support much of what he’s done, and I don’t much care if Biden hasn’t become the “unifier of Congress” that he promised. Given Republican intransigence, that would be impossible.

But the Biden administration isn’t perfect, and I’ll criticize it when I see fit—like now.

This article appeared in the conservative venue The National Review, and I was sent it by reader Bill who suspected, correctly, that it is “not one of my preferred news sources.” Indeed! But who else would publish something like this: a notice that the Biden administration has set out a proposal to get schools to teach Critical Race Theory in one of its more objectionable forms? Click on the screenshot to read the National Review piece, but be warned that a lot of it is right-wing kvetching:

The upshot of the report, leaving aside the kvetching about CRT and the criticism of Biden, is that his Department of Education has just put out a proposal for grants to secondary schools in the area of American History and Civics Education. You can see the pdf of the government proposal here, or click on the screenshot below:

The aims of these proposals are these, set out in the government document:

The purpose of the National Activities program is to promote new and existing evidence-based strategies to encourage innovative American history, civics and government, and geography instruction, learning strategies, and professional development activities and programs for teachers, principals, or other school leaders, particularly such instruction, strategies, activities, and programs that benefit low-income students and underserved populations.

Note the “evidence-based” slant. I have no quarrel with the aims, nor with the second area of funding that I won’t discuss (“Promoting Information Literacy Skills”). But the first part, “Projects That Incorporate Racially, Ethnically, Culturally, and Linguistically Diverse Perspectives into Teaching and Learning”, is objectionable and invidious.  I’ll let you read for yourself from these screenshots:

 

Note the exemplar module: the New York Times‘s “1619 Project”, which has been severely criticized for both ideological zealotry and historical inaccuracy. But this is exactly what the New York Times wanted—not journal, but an injection of the paper’s own ideology as propaganda in the public schools. Notice also the approbation for Kendi’s dubious claim that any racial inequities in any area, say in evolutionary biology, are the result of “racist policies.”  While that may be true of policies in the past, Kendi means it to reflect current racism. And he’s not always right about that; but this is what our kids are going to learn.

Again, I emphasize that some redress is needed in teaching American history for the decades of teaching that more or less erased the fates of oppressed minorities in this country. I have no problem with such redress. I do have a problem with redress via the methods of The 1619 Project and the views of Ibram X. Kendi.

When a school or school system writes a proposal to be funded under this aegis, this is what it must do:

I don’t have to dwell on the problem with this program: its divisiveness, its one-sidedness, its questionable claims about systemic marginalization (that is, marginalization built into form structures of governments, schools, and other organizations), and the laughable bit about “critical analysis”, for you know that no criticism of the program will be tolerated once it’s in the classroom. That is, this is an ideology to be foisted on students, and perhaps a violation of the First Amendment.

Now I don’t agree with state laws that have been enacted (Trump also ordered one) prohibiting the teaching of CRT in the classroom. The government should not be in the business of saying what students shouldn’t learn beyond forbidding violations of the First Amendment (e.g., you can’t teach creationism or Intelligent Design because they’re forms or religion) or the purveying of arrant lies, which should be handled by schools themselves.

But by giving money to schools in this one specific area, the Biden administration is ensuring that cash-strapped schools are going to board the CRT train. And once they do, that’s it. As Ignatius of Loyola might have said, “Give me the children until they are ten and I will give you the future, including politics, universities, and the liberal media.”

According to author Kurtz, this is only the beginning. I have no knowledge of this area, so I just present his claim:

The programs immediately targeted by Biden’s new priority criteria for American history and civics grants are small. Once in place, however, those criteria will undoubtedly influence the much larger and vastly more dangerous “Civics Secures Democracy Act.” That bill would appropriate $1 billion a year, for six years, for history and civic education. Support for leftist “action civics” is already written into the priority criteria of the bill itself. I have argued that additional anodyne-sounding priority criteria in the Civics Secures Democracy Act — criteria favoring grants targeted to “underserved” populations and the mitigation of various racial, ethnic, and linguistic achievement gaps — would be interpreted by the Biden administration as a green light to fund Critical Race Theory in the schools. The new draft federal rule for grant priority in American history and civics education makes it clear that this is indeed the Biden administration’s intent.

And Kurtz may well be right.

I’m not sure how Uncle Joe let his agenda be hijacked by the Woke, as it wasn’t clear that this would happen, but I can assume only that he has loud voices yelling in his ear to get this stuff done. We already know that the Woke are louder than the Rational. It’s up to us to fix that disparity.

25 thoughts on “Biden administration poised to impose CRT on American public schools

  1. The anti-drug educational programs of the past (e.g. D.A.R.E), as well as much childhood religious training, seems analogous here. The “facts” adults try to teach young people will be measured by students against their experience and rejected by as many or more than accept them. DARE insisted (indoctrinated) that smoking MJ was bad…m’kay…and would lead to hardcore drug use. Today, MJ is widely legal and decriminalization is spreading.

    That isn’t to say the anti-drug messaging didn’t do harm. It did, and so will anti-racism (CRT) messaging. But ultimately, it may just piss people off and further reduce the people’s trust in institutions..

  2. The Elect take advantage — deliberately or accidentally — of the well-intentioned. President Biden is nothing if not well-intentioned, and he’s being taken advantage of here.

  3. Those who are disseminating BLM/CRT/1619 propaganda throughout public education and into the wider culture would be well-advised to read the short essay by Glenn Loury just posted at CityJournal and entitled “The Case for Black Patriotism.”

  4. This will piss a lot of people off and will likely do damage to the history instruction as if it has not been done in the past. It is likely that most red states will reject this program and go their own way. Regardless of what they try to do at the federal level, the state still pretty much has control of the education system. It will also push more people to get their kids out of public school and into the privates if they can afford it. So in the end, the CTR will only affect the poor kids in public schools. At least that would be my guess. I do not see this accomplishing anything toward racial equality.

  5. In a related matter, individuals have written letters highly critical of certain NYC super elite private schools indefatigable CRT emphasis.

    Probably the most notable came from Paul Rossi, a math teacher I believe, at Grace Church School. He has now been banned from campus, though still getting paid, because in the school’s estimation, his presence may cause “harm” to students.

    FAIR (Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism) has gotten hold of a brief sound clip in which the school’s head, in a conversation with Rossi, admits that white students are being tarred and demonized…..It’s under 2 minutes and really worth listening to.

    https://twitter.com/fairforall_org/status/1384481622326603779

    1. In a related matter, individuals have written letters highly critical of certain NYC super elite private schools indefatigable CRT emphasis.

      I’ve read a couple of these now, and I have to say they remind me of when my parents would get all worked up over a gay teacher, or sex ed, or reading Siddhartha, or yoga classes, or traditional Indian dance, or evolution. I guess you could say they were into cancel culture before it was cool again. I’m not scared of kids learning things in school, and CRT is not being taught in K-12 in public schools as I understand it. That the letters are coming from (presumably) very wealthy folks is just icing on the cake.

      1. CRT is absolutely being taught in K-12 in public schools. Just a few weeks ago there was a presentation on “white fragility”, based entirely on quotes from Robin DiAngelo’s website, in the 8th grade English class at my local middle school.

        Based on talking to some of them, what the middle schoolers mostly got out of that lesson is that the teacher claimed “black people can’t achieve the same things white people can”.

        As for the provenance of the letters you saw, not-wealthy folks generally don’t have the connections to get their views published in national media.

  6. As now, as always, the use or misuse of history is a weapon in the ideological struggle between adherents of starkly different political viewpoints. As I have argued in previous comments, for most of the twentieth century and into the current one, the fairy tale version of American history has prevailed. It de-emphasized the enormous impact of slavery and race on the unfolding of American history. This is not surprising considering that the purpose of the teaching of American history was to inculcate patriotism in the citizenry. In recent years there has been a growing demand from certain elements in society that the role of race and slavery needs to be emphasized in teaching history. This has been a good thing. This is why I support the essence of the 1619 Project. But have the demands gone too far? That is, would the introduction of the CRT agenda as the basis of teaching American history create distortions on a par with the fairy tale version? Perhaps so.

    Is it possible to develop a balanced curriculum for the teaching of American history? My answer is probably not because as I have argued before and won’t repeat here, there is no such thing as “true” history. Consequently, the issue of what should be taught in history classes will remain what it always has been – a weapon for those vying to retain or gain power. The current squabble over the role of CRT is just another battle in an endless war.

    1. Is it possible to develop a balanced curriculum for the teaching of American history? My answer is probably not because as I have argued before and won’t repeat here, there is no such thing as “true” history.

      This is a really compelling thought. Somehow, I managed to make it out of K-12 without ever taking an actual USian history class. Probably due to frequent moves and schooling overseas, a stint of homeschooling and attending four high schools. So, my overall was a bit spotty and now most of my understanding comes from research and reading I’ve done as an adult. Zinn was the first foray away from the traditional understanding, and that was a fun paradigm shift.

      For me, I think that access to more information is always better. And with something as subjective as history, why not incorporate a whole slew of versions? I would also have really enjoyed a history of US religions (Mormon history is bonkers!). I’ve not a nationalist bone in my body, so I’ve got no incentive to want people to learn a history where were always come out looking like the good guys. We weren’t always the good guys. That is what it is.

  7. My guess is the Biden administration is going to get a lot of blowback from parents if they implement this to a great extent. Wokeism has been able to spread so far because the only ones who object to its extremes are a few intellectuals and its direct victims. Once it is seen as dangerous to education, it will meet strong resistance, at least that’s my hope. I was happy to see that the renaming of schools in San Francisco got put on hold.

    This is all reminiscent of the creationism battles. They sneak in under the radar because most parents aren’t aware of what’s going on politically. Then they find out what’s really happening and fight back. Let’s hope the same thing happens with Wokeism.

  8. Our wokie educrats, in their zeal to brainwash the next generation, are blithely ignorant of Polish history. The ruling Communists there dominated the educational system and flooded it with their agit-prop for 40 years. Then, in June of 1989, they made the mistake of allowing a real test of their indoctrination’s effect through essentially free parliamentary elections. The ruling party’s candidates were routed in every contest but one, and the opposition Solidarnosc took 160 out of 161 seats (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contract_Sejm ).

    Perhaps things are not quite as simple as Ignatius of Loyola thought. Perhaps the outcome of the current flood of wokie indoctrination will be, to adapt a phrase from just east of Poland: “They pretend to train us in Critical Social Justice Theory gibberish and we pretend to be trained.”

    1. Wait a sec–are you saying that Poland is now a haven for equal rights? I think some women might disagree.

      1. Post #8 had nothing to do with present-day Poland, nor with present-day Mars. It referred to the 1989 Senate and Sejm elections in Poland, which provided an experimental test of the efficacy of 40 years of mass indoctrination by the Communist (PZPR) government.

  9. In the progressive utopia where I live, the nonpartisan school board elections seem to be a bit more heated than normal. A few people are pushing back against cancelling Jefferson and similar wokeness. Since the elections are in May, it is possible that the conservatives will be able to elect moderates instead of the false history ideologues.

  10. Have any studies been done on how teaching Critical Race Theory effects both learning and interracial friendships between students? I watched the (long) series of videos on Evergreen College and seem to recall that minority student grades plummeted. Why study art or history or science or anything at all, really, when you were living oppressed under a racist system which was stacked against you? And both white students and POC were leery of forming relationships across the divide, the one side because it would be too easy to cause unintentional harm, the other side because it would lead to being harmed, and both sides because it was too obvious that they were coming from different worlds.

    Of course, Evergreen practiced an extreme form of CRT. And I may be misremembering or inventing problems which seem plausible. It’s possible that high school students (and middle school?) will already have firm friendships or be too indifferent to what’s taught in the classroom to let that effect who they choose to like.

    Even so, I’d hate to think that what generally leads to lack of prejudice and the dispelling of stereotypes — hanging out together, forming loyalties, and just being comfortable with each other — would be jeopardized by an instruction program which emphasizes the roles of Oppressed and Oppressor a little too much, and too personally. It seems reasonable then to look at what’s happened through a rigorous, controlled examination or two.

  11. Living in a state (PA) where legislators totally unfettered by knowledge are constantly passing legislation requiring filling out of forms and production of documents to make sure that higher education faculty are putting in enough hours for their pay and not teaching radical ideas like democracy, or that biologically race is an uncommon synonym for subspecies and there’s only one living human one, I’m familiar with this kind of silliness. I’m sure that faculty who apply for these grants know how to go through the motions and mouth the platitudes while taking the money and actually doing something useful with it. The problem comes with administrators who think this makes sense and actually watch what we’re doing and are just smart enough to understand we’re not on the same page.

  12. It is inevitable that the Dems will have to learn whether CRT wokism is politically viable. If it turns out to be a winner, spiriting more Democrats into public office, then the cause will thrive. If it turns out to be a factor for Democrats losing ground, then maybe it will lose political steam.
    I am speaking of the moderate Dems who would not push CRT wokism on their own. The ones who already push this sort of thing will not and can not learn the lesson.

  13. Home schooling has never sounded like a better option. As more people choose that path, expect a progressive attack on home schooling as the bastion of right-wing, Christian, white supremacist extremism, and a push to make it illegal.

    1. I know two families seriously considering homeschooling their kids because of the vast disconnect between the values they would like to instill in their children and the disturbing things they are being force-fed in public institutions.

      1. Ironically, maybe, you are both making the same point those Evangelical homeschoolers in the 80s and 90s were making then. They were scared of children hearing about people being gay, about sex education, about evolution, and yes, most certainly, any type of history that didn’t paint the US as a shining city on a hill. Most homeschooling curricula is pretty explicitly nationalist, and racist. Fear of information is inherently illiberal, in my opinion. I’m not scared of bad ideas, because I can hopefully combat them in a rational way with evidence. Isolating children and only allowing them access to information that you’ve pre-approved and fits with your own worldview is regressive, no?

        1. Right. Add to that that not everyone can afford to homeschool, because some people have to work. Also, it is more productive to work for better public schools than homeschooling. Homeschooling is egotism, pure and simple.

  14. Thank you for the early clarification. Until the day I die, CRT will always stand for “Cathode Ray Tube” to me, a now more or less defunct technology. Perhaps the comparison should be pushed more.

  15. Do not send your children to public school. Perhaps a very few are okay, but to send children there is to send them (most) to disinformation, propaganda camp. As the years pass, the light goes out of the children’s eyes. They become, with each year, less able to function, less able to think for themselves, and less able to understand our true history and real understanding. If all parents do is teach their children real mathematics, working with money, cooking and making projects with measuring tools and math. If all they do is read the old science books, doing little experiments at home. If all they do is read Louis LaMoure books, read history books from the times they were written, then discuss. If this is all the do, including crafts, their children will have a far better education than what we’re seeing today. Because they’ll be thinking for themselves. One of my friends has her children at her business, doing home schooling in the back room, helping out in the business when homework is done. Her kids are far brighter than probably 95% of the public schools we see today.

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