A critical race theory group leader with work linked in a Department of Education school reopening handbook has been revealed to have links to top department officials.
The Abolitionist Teaching Network's "Guide for Racial Justice & Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning" which advocates for teachings that uses language associated with critical race theory, was linked in the Department of Education's "Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs" handbook released to assist schools in reopening in the wake of the pandemic, Fox News reports. The Department of Education told Fox News that the inclusion "was an error," but did not reveal why the link was included in the first place. The network's co-founder, Bettina Love, was revealed by Fox News to have ties to top officials in the Department of Education.
Deputy Education Secretary Cindy Marten paid Love $11,000 for a speaking event while Marten headed the San Diego school system. Though Marten was not confirmed to the federal department until a month after the handbook as released, she was nominated in February. The San Diego Unified School District approved an $11,000 payment to Love's business, Love Educational Services LLC for Love to be a keynote speaker at the Summer Principals' Institute in August 2020, according to copies of the agreement obtained by Fox News.
"The focus is on developing equity-driven schools and classroom cultures where academics and social-emotional learning work in tandem to impact student academic and social-emotional success," states an agenda item from a June 23, 2020 school board meeting. "Dr. Love will discuss Abolitionist Teaching … and methods of abolitionists to demand and fight for an educational system and world where all students are thriving, not simply surviving." The San Diego elementary school also reportedly purchased $256 worth of copies of Love's book "We Want To Do More Than Survive."
In addition, at least one San Diego school had incorporated Love's teachings into trainings for its teachers. "Select staff will participate in a book study with Bettina Love's book 'Students need to thrive not survive,' as a means to lead reform to breakdown oppressive systems and racial biases that live within the school system," the Millennial Tech Middle School's plan for student achievement for the 2020-21 school year stated according to Fox News.
In addition to Marten's connection, Acting Assistant Secretary Donna Harris-Aikens, who headed the department that created the handbook, hosted Love as a speaker at a June 2020 event, when Harris-Aikens served as a senior director for the National Education Association, according to her LinkedIn account. According to the NEA's promotion for the event, Love was a keynote speaker for a "discussion on addressing anti-Blackness and achieving educational freedom."
The Department of Education published its reopening handbook back in April 2021, with links to the Abolitionist Teaching Network in a section that discusses meeting students' emotional needs concerning race. "The Department does not endorse the recommendations of this group, nor do they reflect our policy positions. It was an error in a lengthy document to include this citation," a department spokesperson told Fox News after the initial story was published.