Thursday, October 28, 2021

Stop trying to make CRT happen

This debate about education that you want me to engage in has become deeply frustrating.

From the New York Post
I understand you want me to see something that you see. You want me to recognize it as something serious - maybe even dangerous. So, I get it is important to you that I listen and take your arguments seriously. 

I get that.

But when I take your arguments seriously enough to respond with my views, time and time again, you have ignored my responses. 

You believe that what you have learned from your sources outweighs anything I have to say on the issue. As a result, there is no conversation. You are not willing to consider what I have to say. 

So, I don’t understand why you keep trying to engage me. 

You’re now sending poorly sourced photo collages that attempt to link the AG’s daughter’s marriage to ideas you don’t like in education. 

The first time you did that, I sent a point-by-point rebuttal. 

The second collage didn’t offer anything new. 

You just sent the same theory, but this time you followed it with a leading question: “Conflict… maybe?”

No. There’s no conflict. I already explained why there’s no conflict.

But here I go again…

The suggestion of links to CRT is completely manufactured. The AG’s son-in-law founded a firm that contributes to social-emotional learning programs. 

Sure, a bunch of conservatives have objected to social-emotional learning. But just because conservatives don’t like it, doesn’t make it CRT. 

And there it is! I keep coming back to this non-conversation. I shouldn’t, but I do because I find it troubling to see how you have been drawn into this movement to delegitimize education. 


I’m sure you don’t see what you’re doing as an effort to delegitimize education, but on more than one occasion you have said (or written) that parents should have the final say in what gets taught in school.

Let me clear: That is absolutely wrong. 

Parents are not education professionals. The people who decide what gets taught in school should be education professionals. Anyone who says otherwise is working to delegitimize education. 

Want proof?

Look at the debate in the Virginia governor’s race right now. The GOP candidate just put out a campaign ad featuring a mother who was upset that the governor vetoed a bill that would allow parents to opt their kids out of reading books that parents don’t want their children reading. The mother in the ad spearheaded the effort to get that bill passed.

The book at the center of that mother’s complaint was the Nobel-prize winning novel Beloved by Toni Morrison, and the child who complained about it was a high school senior in AP English. He claimed the brutal descriptions of slavery gave him nightmares. 

I do not want that kid’s parents to have any say in what gets taught in the public schools. They are dangerously ignorant people who couldn’t figure out how to help their 17-year-old AP English student son navigate a literary telling of slavery. They are the type of people who would get up and read the most shocking parts of Morrison’s book out of context in front of a school board meeting and they would use the shock to insist that the material has no place in the public schools. 

Those parents’ effort to use legislation to keep a book out of their child’s hands is what gives me nightmares. 

And the Virginia state legislature passed the bill! Twice!! It had to be vetoed (twice) to keep the book a required part of the AP English curriculum. They attempted to move mountains just to keep American author Toni Morrison’s award-winning novel out of their child’s hands. 

And those parents are not part of a grassroots movement. They are well-known Republican activists. Their son worked (briefly) for the Trump administration

And here’s where we get to another part of this mess that troubles me. You have been led to believe that this is a grassroots movement of frustrated parents who are being denied a voice. You think these parents arrived at these positions independently and they are simply concerned about their kids’ schools. And what’s worse than that, in your view, is that the powerful school boards are silencing these parents. They are using the incredible power of their school board appointments to shut these parents out of the decision-making process. 

Put aside the fact that such a view grossly overestimates the role of a school board. Instead, pay attention to the oddly consistent message that these diverse groups of parents are sharing across the country. That should be enough to clue you in that this is not a grassroots movement. It is a well-funded political movement with leaders who have deftly coordinated on-the-ground community organizers. Organizations in the movement include Citizens Renewing America, the Manhattan Institute, Parents Defending Education, Turning Point USA, and Prager University (not an actual university, btw). These organizations have assembled toolkits that provide talking points and strategies for making these wedge issues the only thing that a school board can deal with, and they launched these efforts while school districts were trying to figure out how to safely reopen. 

You think parents are frustrated? Imagine school administrators trying to open their institutions at the tail end of a pandemic only to have parents interrupt every public meeting with shouting arguments about a fringe issue. Oh, I’m sorry those parents weren’t all greeted with open arms, but their new pet issue wasn’t the only business on the agenda. 

This is all to say, I think you have an incomplete understanding of the issue and I am frustrated that when I try to show you the bigger picture, you respond with some version of “But the children! Won’t anybody think of the children?”

It’s fear mongering, and that isn’t what should drive conversations about education. 

1 comment:

Michael Ryan Maxwell said...

I would summarize: “don’t take the bait!” The ultimate question is: do you love our kids? All of them? If so, does it seem fair that some kids outcomes are unfairly lower every year since we started measuring them?