Over the last year, teachers and administrators nationwide have weaponized K-12 education, injecting progressive politics into classrooms, and indoctrinating students with novel social justice dogma, including theories that call for racialized curriculums and reverse discrimination to achieve racial equity.
Mainstream media outlets and left-wing commentators have accused conservatives of demonizingcritical race theory, and turning an obscure academic theory into a rightwing “bogeyman.” But there sure are a lot of examples of it turning up in schools across the country, from big city Democratic strongholds to suburban districts in red America. The following are summaries of just a small number of the fights that have erupted in the last year.
Princeton Offering ‘#Black Lives Matter’ Class Taught By CRT Advocate
Princeton University is offering a “#BlackLivesMatter” course this fall, where students can learn about the “historical roots and growth” of the “social movement” from a professor with a “commitment” to critical race theory.
The class, first reported by The College Fix, includes readings from former Black Panther member Angela Davis, a two-time vice-presidential candidate of the Communist Party who once made the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
The course description says the class “seeks to document the forms of dispossession that Black Americans face, and offers a critical examination of the prison industrial complex, police brutality, urban poverty, and white supremacy in the US.”
It says the Black Lives Matter movement and the course are “committed to resisting, unveiling, and undoing histories of state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown bodies.”
The course will be taught by professor Hanna Garth, who has described herself as a person who is “broadly interested in the ways in which people struggle to overcome structural violence.”
“All of my research, teaching, and mentoring is designed around my commitment to feminist methodologies and critical race theory,” Garth writes on her personal website.
She has previously taught courses including “Race and Racisms,” “Postcolonial and Decolonial Theory,” and “Theories of Social Justice.”
Fairfax County Schools Sent Second Graders a Video Vilifying Police: ‘I Feel Safe When There Are No Police’
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) sent second-graders a “summer learning guide” in July which included a Youtube video titled “Woke Kindergarten” that vilified the police.
Centered around the importance of “feeling safe,” the video, which was obtained by Parents Defending Education, presents a slideshow of photos featuring groups of young African Americans, some of whom are holding Black Lives Matter signs.
“We deserve to feel safe in our homes… I feel safe when there are no police. And it’s no one’s job to tell me how I feel. But it’s everyone’s job to make sure that people who are being treated unfairly……feel safe too,” a narrator says.
The “suggested texts” section of the summer learning guide also recommends students listen to “Good Trouble by Ki,” which instructs students on the merits of civil disobedience.
The narrator of another video, intended for seven-year-olds, tells students, “sometimes it’s good to get into trouble.” The video also presents a sequence of photos depicting social justice demonstrations, some from the modern day and some taken during the Civil Rights movement of the mid-twentieth century.
In a reference to Representative John Lewis’ 2020 speech in Selma, Alabama commemorating Bloody Sunday, the video adds, “John Lewis was a freedom fighter who got in a lot of good trouble.”
“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America,” Lewis declared at the 2020 event.
Over the last year, the Fairfax school system has become a notorious hotbed for many of the progressive developments taking root in public K-12 education across the country. Teachers have been instructed to use students preferred pronouns and an aggressive form of diversity, equity, and inclusion curricula has taken hold. Teachers in the district have also resisted efforts to return to in-person learning.
On the radicalized curriculum front, prominent journalist Asra Nomani criticized the district’s decision to change a rule guiding how contentious topics are discussed in the classroom.
The district leaders announced they would be “revising the existing Controversial Issues Policy and developing a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy.”
Nomani told National Review that she believes the curriculum revision is laying the foundation for progressive activists to impose “anti-racist” indoctrination and critical race theory on students.
Teachers’ Union Sues Rhode Island Mother for Over-Requesting Public Records on CRT in School District
Nicole Solas, a mother of a kindergartner in South Kingston, R.I., was sued by a powerful teachers’ union earlier this week after she requested documents surrounding the teaching of Critical Race Theory and related concepts at her daughter’s public school.
After hearing reports that teachers refused to address students as “boys” and “girls,” Solas grew concerned that progressive indoctrination was infiltrating her child’s classroom.
Denied both a tour of the elementary school and an un-redacted copy of its curriculum, Solas identified an avenue to inquire directly about the district’s social justice agenda without incurring the exorbitant cost many parents confront just to gain access to information about their children’s schooling.
In July, The Goldwater Institute filed a public records request on Solas behalf, resulting in her receiving a $74,000 bill to fulfill it, according to The Goldwater Institute.
To avoid paying thousands of dollars, Solas submitted over 160 specific public records requests, narrowing the scope to six months and requesting digital rather than hard copies, to investigate the school district’s plans to introduce critical race theory and other equity and inclusion initiatives, GoLocalProv reported.
Among the records Solas requested were documents pertaining to the influence of the AFL-CIO and NEA unions and teacher discipline and performance, as well as emails sent by various district administrators over the last six months, according to the lawsuit.
To justify the legality of filing so many records requests at once, Solas cited a provision in the state Access to Public Records Act (APRA) law, which holds that “[M]ultiple requests from any person or entity to the same public body within a thirty (30) day time period shall be considered one request,” according to her own account.
But the local branch of the National Education Association, the largest teachers’ union in the country, sued Solas alleging that she unfairly inundated the district with solicitations for documents, some of which are obscure items that do not constitute public records.
The lawsuit’s declaratory judgement reads, “The APRA system is not an alternative to the civil discovery process and is not to be used for abusive purposes or a fishing expedition – it was not intended to ’empower the press and the public with carte blanche to demand all records held by public agencies.”
The South Kingston School Committee subsequently hosted a public meeting, listing “filing lawsuit against Nicole Solas to challenge filing of over 160 APRA requests” as a major agenda item. Solas contended that such a meeting was designed to pressure her to prove the case for her requests or threaten her with litigation, in violation of the APRA law, which prohibits a government body from compelling a citizen to explain requests for public records.
Represented by a legal team from The Goldwater Institute, Solas intends to fight the NEA’s challenge in court to defend parents’ right and entitlement to obtain knowledge about their kids’ education and school system.
Two Moms Fought against Left-Wing Indoctrination. Their Kids Paid the Price
Two moms decided to push back when their kids’ elite private school, the Columbus Academy, sent home a “Justice in June” email announcing a series of new diversity and equity initiatives.
The email included a list of daily activities that read like a progressive wish list. Read about white privilege, the 1619 Project, and the case for reparations? Check. Donate money to progressive organizations such as Black Lives Matter and the Southern Poverty Law Center? Check. Advocate to reallocate city budgets by defunding the police? Check.
When the moms, Andrea Gross and Amy Gonzalez, began organizing fellow concerned parents and publicly criticizing the school’s new progressive orientation, it was their kids who paid the price; they were expelled.
Teachers, CRT Advocate Plotted to Keep Parents in the Dark About Social Justice Efforts
The curriculum-writing team in a suburban St. Louis school district plotted with a critical race theorist on how to keep parents “in the middle of Trump country” in the dark about their efforts to inject leftwing social justice advocacy into their classes.
During a webinar with members of the Francis Howell School District curriculum-writing team, the district’s equity consultant, LaGarrett J. King, told the group that “our social studies and our history curriculum is political and racist,” and “there is no such thing as neutral history.” He said the way history is taught is psychologically violent to black people, and the nations’ founding “means nothing to black people.” He asked the team members to question whether they are developing black history curriculums through the historical lens of “the oppressor.”
Teachers on the call asked King how they could reframe their classes to teach social justice concepts “in a highly conservative county … in the middle of Trump country.” King suggested they could drop controversial terms like “white privilege” while still getting the progressive message across to students. One white teacher on the call acknowledged that “Kids are way more open” to social justice teaching, “but then they go home and they tell their parents, and then their parents get upset.”
How Critical Race Theory Is Remaking a Connecticut School District
In the overwhelmingly white and moneyed town of Guildford, Connecticut, progressive parents and teachers have formed the Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Alliance(ABAR). The group intends to make “anti-racists” of each and every child who passes through the school district. ABAR says on its website, “In diving into this, you’ll find that the first critical step to raising anti-racist kids is to understand our own biases and identities, to ‘do the work’….We realize that as a predominantly white, cis-gendered community we are shaped by our privilege and limited ability to fully understand the impact of bias and racism.”
The group enjoys a powerful ally, Superintendent Paul Freeman. With him in charge, curriculum alteration is underway. At a recent social justice meeting he praised the formation and aims of ABAR, calling them “one of the brightest spots in the school year.” Freeman has a history of re-education pushes. In 2019 he had teachers create a “racial autobiography,” an accounting of the racial makeup of one’s life experiences, to illustrate the whiteness of their backgrounds. He then distributed copies of White Fragility and How to be an Anti-Racist to every teacher in the district using $6,000 taxpayer dollars to pay for the books.
Resistance to these “anti-racist” efforts is in its infancy, led by a fast-growing parent group called Truth in Education(TIE). TIE is now wrestling with the school district about having a public debate about critical race theory. The district denies they teach critical race theory in their schools and has rebuffed the debate requests.
How Southlake, Texas, Won Its Battle against Critical Race Theory
In Southlake, Texas, CRT activists and a conciliatory school board attempted to take over the Carroll School District curriculum via a hushed mid-summer vote. Southlake, an affluent Republican-voting suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth, was seventy-two hours from an “anti-racist” coup that would have meant a dramatic leftward shift for the district. The District Diversity Council crafted the proposal, called the Cultural Competence Action Plan(CCAP), to create an “anti-racist” culture in the district, replete with micro-aggression guidance and speech-policing policies.
Concerned parents flooded into the board meeting and delayed the vote on the proposed bill, allowing an anti-CRT coalition to form in the following weeks and secure seats on the school board. With historic turnout, there is confidence that the next election will raise their hold on the district 5-2, a bulwark against another attempt to pass the proposal. To many outside observers, this was the first resounding defeat of a CRT effort and can provide a playbook for parents elsewhere.
Head of Elite NYC Private School: ‘We’re Demonizing White People for Being Born’
The head of an elite New York City prep school privately acknowledged that the school’s anti-racism training is “demonizing white people for being born,” according to leaked audio from a conversation he had with an embattled teacher in March.
George Davison, the head of Grace Church School in Manhattan, told math teacher Paul Rossi that the school uses language that makes white students “feel less than, for nothing that they are personally responsible for,” and that “one of the things that’s going on a little too much” is the “attempt to link anybody who’s white to the perpetuation of white supremacy.”
“I also have grave doubts about some of the doctrinaire stuff that gets spouted at us, in the name of anti-racism,” Davison told Rossi, according to the recordings.
Rossi was relieved of his duties at Grace for calling out the school for its antiracist orthodoxy. During their conversation, Davison said he agreed with Rossi that “there has been a demonization that we need to get our hands around.”
Maryland Middle-Schoolers Taught that MAGA is White Supremacy
Thomas Pyle Middle School students in Montgomery County, Maryland, were taught that former-President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” is an example of “covert white supremacy,” ranking only slightly less troubling than racial slurs, hate crimes and lynching, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.
Other examples of alleged white supremacy include: the belief that “we’re just one human family,” the one-time American ideal of colorblindness, celebrating Columbus Day, and the belief that through initiative and drive people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps to improve their lives, also known as “bootstrap theory.”
Students in the school’s social justice class were taught that white privilege means being favored by school authorities, having a positive relationship with police, “soaking in media blatantly biased toward my race,” and “living ignorant of the dire state of racism today.”
Montogomery County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, recently spent over $454,000 for an “anti-racist system audit,” according to Judicial Watch.
Wealthy Washington D.C. Suburb is Ground Zero in Nation’s Culture Wars
In Loudoun County, Virginia parents fighting to reopen schools during the coronavirus pandemic joined forces with parents pushing back against leftwing political indoctrination, making the wealthy Washington D.C. suburb ground zero in the nation’s culture wars.
In early 2021, several video clips from the district’s school board meetings went viral.
There have been heated debates over the Loudoun County School District’s efforts to root out “white supremacy” and “systemic racism,” which many parents see as a blatant attempt to inject critical race theory into the schools. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, parents learned that the school district paid at least $422,000 to the Equity Collaborative, a CRT-espousing California-based consulting firm, to conduct a “systemic equity assessment.” In March, the district de-emphasized Dr. Seuss on Read Across America Day – held on Dr. Seuss’s birthday – because of “strong racial undertones” in many of his books. The district also has partnered with the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center to develop a social justice-inspired curriculum for kids as young as kindergarten.
The cultural battles in Loudoun County are broader than just fights over CRT. In May, a Christian elementary school teacher was suspended after he voiced opposition to a proposed district rule that would require faculty to acknowledge and address students by their preferred gender-identity pronouns. A judge later ordered that he be reinstated.
Maine School Committee Claims Society is ‘Built on White Supremacy’
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police last June, the equity committee in a far-away school district in Maine released a stunning letter. It was time, the committee members declared, to “dismantle the anti-Blackness all of us have internalized by living in a society built on white supremacy.”
The committee members wanted the entire Cumberland and North Yarmouth community to know that they were ready to make changes to the majority-white school district. “It is our duty,” they wrote, “to educate ourselves and dismantle the violent and oppressive structures which have kept us divided.” Black people “experience violence every single day because of our white supremacist society,” they added, and the community’s students needed to be taught that “Black Lives Matter.”
The school district has since paid over $12,000 for diversity and equity training from Community Change Inc., a non-profit that advocates to “end capitalism” and to “look at other economic models … such as socialism and anarchism.”
San Diego Teachers Taught They ‘Spirit Murder’ Black Students
White teachers in San Diego were taught during a training session last year that they are guilty of committing “spirit murder” against their black students.
In September, the San Diego Unified School District, hosted critical race theorist Bettina Love for a presentation on “Abolitionist Teaching.” The presentation centered around Love’s book, We Want To Do More Than Survive, and addressed the concept of “spirit murder,” which Love has described as “a death that is built on racism and intended to reduce, humiliate, and destroy people of color.”
The training was led by then-superintendent Cindy Marten, who has since been tapped by President Joe Biden to serve as his deputy secretary of education. Marten urged people attending the training to “recognize our privilege and bias.”
Kentucky Social Equity Course Didn’t Pass Neutrality Test
Concerned parents in a suburban Kentucky community organized in early 2021 to put the kibosh on a proposed social-equity course designed to teach about “the intersection of gender, race, class, and sexuality,” and to help students “create an action plan for future social change.”
A syllabus for the course at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., identified two “required textbooks” – Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility – which students would be asked to buy, with the hope that “these books will stay with you as a reminder of the work that we (society) need to do.”
In his book, Kendi argues in favor of race-based discrimination to achieve racial equity. DiAngelo suggests that white people should be viewed as a racist collective socialized to “fundamentally hate black people.” One of the teachers who helped develop the course has identified herself as a “dumb white girl with white privilege.”
The course was tabled because a school leader said it created “unnecessary division,” and did not pass the neutrality test.
Rhode Island Teacher Urges Students to Testify About Legislation She Opposes
A Barrington High School teacher in Rhode Island is accused of promoting political activism in her class after she emailed students this spring, mischaracterizing an anti-critical-race-theory bill in the legislature and urging students to testify about it with a promise of extra credit.
The teacher sent the email in late March, telling her students that bill H6070 – one of many bills in statehouses across the country aimed at stopping schools from preaching CRT-related concepts – would prohibit any discussion of race or gender in the classroom. In reality, the bill would only have barred things like teaching that any race or sex was inherently superior or that any individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive – “whether consciously or unconsciously” – based only on their race or sex.
“I strongly urge you to testify on this bill tomorrow,” the teacher wrote to her students, after clearly stating her own opposition to the legislation. “As always, if you are a student in my class, you will receive 5 points on your next unit test if you decide to testify and provide me with your written testimony.”
Virginia School District Revising How Controversial Topics Addressed
In an effort to realize their “vision of educational equity,” school leaders in one Washington D.C. suburb are revising a policy that requires controversial topics be addressed impartially, objectively, and from multiple perspectives.
The effort in Fairfax, Virginia, is part of the school district’s plan to develop a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy. To develop its plan, the district has partnered with The Leadership Academy, a New York-based consulting firm that promotes “equity-focused leadership development” and “anti-racism.”
The district also has done away with testing requirements for admission to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, one of the nation’s most prestigious public schools, because it was not diverse enough. More than 70 percent of the school’s students in the 2019-20 school year were Asian. The school board is facing at least two lawsuits alleging anti-Asian discrimination.
Massachusetts Students, School Staff Encouraged to Report Microaggressions
Leaders of the Wellesley Public Schools system in Massachusetts are encouraging students and staff members to snitch on one another for telling rude jokes and committing microaggressions.
Students and staff are encouraged to report incidents of discrimination “or any concerning pattern of biased behavior” to any district staff member or trusted adult, according to documents from the district’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Reports can be made anonymously.
According to training slides, “Telling rude jokes that mock a protected group” is an example of a “bias-based incident.” Examples of microaggressions include saying “My principal is so crazy!” asking someone “Where are you actually from?” or saying “Ohhh, you got the ‘China Virus’?!?!”
Potential discipline includes detention, suspension or “other restorative responses.”
In Biden's America, the action is outside the Beltway
It took a few days away from the nation’s capital for me to appreciate how boring the place has become. Recently I returned from a trip to California and discovered that I hadn’t missed anything—no presidential scandal, no legislative logrolling, no surprise vacancies on the Supreme Court. Yes, the pace of events slows down in Washington every summer. Congress goes on recess and metro residents travel for vacation. But 2021 is different. This year, D.C.’s irrelevance is neither seasonal nor exceptional. It’s the norm.
Since Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the city has been the site of momentous events and world-defining debates. The fallout from the 2000 election, 9/11, the war on terrorism, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the surge, the financial crisis, the election of Barack Obama, Obamacare, the Tea Party, the debt ceiling, the response to the Arab Spring, the 2013 government shutdown—they all testified to the centrality of Washington.
Donald Trump’s descent on the escalator in 2015 intensified press coverage. His victory in 2016 upped the political stakes. The Trump presidency unfolded in spectacular, captivating fashion. It was a live-broadcast, four-year, nonfictional telenovela, complete with a climactic twist and a tragic ending. On occasion, the cast traveled to Singapore, Hanoi, Helsinki, and Mar-a-Lago. But the main set was the Oval Office.
Well, the show is over and the thrill is gone. It used to be that the federal city—and its chief executive—drove the national conversation. But President Biden purposely limits his exposure to remain as uncontroversial as possible. “Boring news cycle deals blow to partisan media,” read the headline of an article in Axios on June 29. The piece tracked a fall in web traffic, app user sessions, and social media engagement since President Trump left office. Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, tweeted out the story. “Sorry not sorry,” he wrote.
After 12 years of highly visible celebrity presidents, the current occupant of the White House is a 78-year-old who eschews social media, rarely gives one-on-one interviews, limits himself to about one public event a day, calls on pre-selected reporters at press conferences, often refers to notes, and returns home to Delaware most weekends. Joe Biden’s spending plans may be gargantuan and foolish, his decisions on the border and on Afghanistan may be impetuous and disastrous, and his offhand remarks may be puzzling and odd, but no one gets worked up about him personally. Last month Doug Rivers of the Hoover Institution observed that voters don’t consider Biden an ideologue. It doesn’t matter that Biden’s goals are more ambitious than Obama’s: Far greater numbers of voters said that Obama was “very liberal” than say the same of Biden today.
This low-key presidency combines with tight margins in Congress to diminish Washington’s importance. Unlike his two most recent predecessors, Biden is not an omnipresent figure. The 50-50 Senate blocks the progressive wish list from becoming law. The result is a devolution of controversy to the state, municipal, and local levels of government. Not in two decades covering politics, for example, have I seen state legislatures receive as much attention as they have in recent months.
Meanwhile, the big political news is Democrat Eric Adams’s victory in the New York City mayoral primary. What’s unique about Adams is that he ran the first New York campaign in decades with national implications. His triumph underscored the electorate’s concern with rising crime rates. It demonstrated that even Democratic primary voters in a majority-minority city oppose defunding law enforcement.
“According to recent data from the Democratic-oriented Navigator Research,” writes Ruy Teixeira in a recent issue of the Liberal Patriot newsletter, “more Americans overall, including among independents and Hispanics, now believe violent crime is a ‘major crisis’ than believe that about the coronavirus pandemic or any other area of concern.” This alarm over rising crime manifested itself locally before becoming apparent to officials in Washington, including Biden, who scrambled to announce a crime reduction plan in late June.
The most glaring sign of the Beltway’s detachment from national life has been the movement against critical race theory (CRT) in public schools. Like the Tea Party, this movement is spontaneous, self-organizing, and uncontrolled. Unlike the Tea Party, however, it is focused on a hyperlocal (yet super-important) issue: K-12 instruction. As of this writing, the anti-CRT movement fields candidates for school boards. Congress is an afterthought.
The national politicians who amplify the movement’s rhetoric are piggybacking on a grassroots phenomenon. And while the fight against CRT has implications for federal policy, it is not as though the right’s answer to far-left school boards is national curricular standards. On the contrary: The parental revolt over “woke” education bypasses Washington, transcends party lines, and has clearly defined and limited goals.
What’s fascinating about the anti-CRT campaign is that its most prominent antagonists are not elected officials. The Tea Party pitted rebels such as Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz against the Republican establishment and Barack Obama. But the participants in this most recent iteration of the culture war are different. The anti-CRT spokesman Christopher Rufo of the Manhattan Institute is a documentarian and activist, and Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan are journalists. The most famous advocates of so-called antiracist education are Nikole Hannah-Jones, lead writer of the New York Times‘s 1619 Project, and Ibram X. Kendi of Boston University. Fights over CRT don’t take place in the halls of Congress, but on Morning Joe.
Maybe political entrepreneurs in the coming months will appropriate and elevate the issues of voter ID, crime, and anti-American pedagogy into national campaigns. Maybe the anti-CRT movement will follow the Tea Party and use the 2022 election to springboard into the Beltway. Maybe the next president will impress himself or herself into the national consciousness in the manner of an Obama or a Trump. Or maybe the next president will be Trump.
For now, though, Joe Biden is president. Congress is deadlocked. Both the left and right are more interested in values than in entitlements. The media track the states, the cities, the schools. Why? Because the real action is happening in places like Atlanta, Tallahassee, Austin, Phoenix, New York City, and Loudoun County. Not in Washington, D.C.