Writers from either side of the political divide got together in The New York Times on Monday to denounce recent measures by GOP lawmakers to ban the teaching of critical race theory in American schools. The bans, they said, are "un-American." They write: "...we here join together, as we are united in one overarching concern: the danger posed by these laws to liberal education."
But what they don't address is exactly how parents should fight back when the entire educational infrastructure is working to program their children. Critical race theory has no place in lower grade schools, but nearly every educational institution is forcing it in where it doesn't belong.
Their argument is clear: whether you approve of critical race theory or not, it shouldn't be banned by state legislatures and lawmakers. They don't like the new laws, and they have all kinds of reasons why they are terrible. They say the laws are "dangerously imprecise," that "these laws even make it difficult to teach US history in a way that would reveal well-documented ways in which past policy decisions... have contributed to present-day racial wealth gaps." They say that the bans would result in an education that "would be negligent, creating ignorant citizens…"
Regarding bans on ideas in general, they have a point. But critical race theory is being used as the backbone of curriculum in K-12 education, and it has no place in that realm. As many on the left consistently tell us, critical race theory is a post-secondary educational concept. So why is it being pushed in elementary through high schools?
They use strong language to explain just why the laws are not acceptable, saying that "These laws threaten the basic purpose of a historical education in a liberal democracy. But censorship is the wrong approach even to the concepts that are the intended targets of these laws."
But as to solutions, these authors, Kmele Foster, David French, Jason Stanley and Thomas Chatterton Williams, offer shockingly little: "propose better curriculums and enforce existing civil rights laws." That's it, that's all they offer in return. Stop banning ideas, they say, instead do something better, work within the existing framework.
What they miss is that critical race theory has made its way into the classroom within the existing framework. It is the current educational system, where teachers earn masters in education degrees from schools and professors that use critical race theory to back their educational principles. They read texts that proclaim that critical race theory is essential, that it must be incorporated into pedagogy. And there is no other view in mainstream discourse: critical race theory emerged from the academy and became an integral ingredient in American education.
Given that reality, the idea that parents and opposition educators can simply "propose better curriculums" while legislators should merely "enforce existing civil rights laws" seems simplistic, an ethereal pie-in-the-sky, why-can't-we-all-just-get-along message. In short, it's disingenuous. And here is why:
Education, entertainment, and mainstream media, all chant the same call and response, they all tell the same narrative. They each espouse the talking points of the far left, parroted by the Biden administration. Americans hear, daily, from celebrities, politicians, pundits, sports figures, that white people are oppressors and black people are victims, and that these wrongs must be intentionally and forcefully redressed, that historical wrongs must be righted by 21st century students, educators, and citizens.
If you are a parent who doesn't like the ideology being peddled to your children, what are your options?
Parents who disagree with the proliferation of critical race theory in schools have gone to school board meetings to propose that better curriculum be implemented, to propose that critical race theory-backed education is divisive and damaging. This is one of the methods to make change proposed by Foster, French, Stanley and Williams, but where has it gotten these parents? It's gotten them insulted on national news. Parents have been overruled, yelled at, slandered, and discredited. Parents have spoken directly to administrators, headmasters, and principals. They have formed advocacy groups, and the educational institutions and cultural monoliths successfully push back.
The National Education Association over the weekend adopted an action to further push for critical race theory in American schools. As parents across the nation, and of all races and ethnic backgrounds, speak out against critical race theory in curriculum, the nation's largest teachers union, with the backing of President Joe Biden, is pressing forward with divisive educational principles that reduce students to their race, ascribe characteristics to students based on race alone, and lessen educational standards.
The American Library Association has also jumped on board with critical race theory. They fully intend to bring antiracist education and methods into the ALA and into libraries.
A school district in Virginia, Loudon County, paid $34,000 on educating staff in critical race theory.
Where does that leave anyone who is determined to save their kids from racist indoctrination? School boards are against parents, teachers unions are against parents, the White House is against parents, even librarians are against parents. How do Foster, French, Stanley and Williams propose that parents "propose better curriculums" when everyone to whom they would make those proposals has shut them out?
No one is listening to parents, or even taking their concerns seriously. And as we've seen over and over again, these are not simply white parents who can be dismissed with the racist wand, instead these are black parents, immigrant parents, Asian parents, and white parents, coming together to demand that critical race theory not be the driving force behind how kids are taught in schools. But as a whole, they are derided, ridiculed, mocked, and called names.
The only ones who are paying attention to these parents are their state legislators who are using the tools they have available to put a stop to damaging, divisive educational practices.
It is likely that the tool of legislation to correct, change, or dismantle critical race theory will be an inaccurate one. Legislation is big, it is overbearing, and it easily interferes in ways that lawmakers did not intend.
What are the solutions that Foster, French, Stanley and Williams missed? It's not the parents who need to be told what to do, or even the lawmakers, trying to do what their constituents want, who should be reprimanded. Instead, teachers unions, school boards, administrators, and academic institutions and groups should be the ones on the receiving end of this vitriol.
Tell those who are implementing this curriculum against parents' wishes: Engage with parents. Stop telling them that their concerns are ill-founded. Hear what they are saying instead of assuming they are wrong simply because you disagree.
Lawmakers are instituting bans because they and parents have no other recourse. Telling them to "propose better curriculum" and to "enforce existing civil rights laws" ignores the fact that tools of lawmaking are being used as a last resort. Bans may not be either an effective tool or in keeping with ideals of free speech, but silencing concerned parents is also anathema to free speech ideals, and preventing it isn't effective either. Parents will do whatever they have to do to protect their kids, even if that means using the only tools at their disposal to do it.