by Barry A. Liebling
For a long time the educational establishment in America – from elementary school through graduate school – has been dominated by leftist progressives. They are engaged in the training of teachers, formulating policies that teachers are required to follow, and rewarding or punishing teachers for compliance or disobedience.
The ruling educational elite are determined to bring about a woke transformation of society, and a cornerstone of their project is to push the conclusions of Critical Race Theory (CRT) onto students. The short summary of CRT dogma is that white people and “white culture” are guilty (yesterday, today, and forever) of oppressing black people. The solution to the problem of unjust oppression is to discriminate against white people, demand perpetual reparations, and urge every citizen to loath white people and “white culture.”
Anyone paying attention can see that the woke agenda is the default in most American schools. Of course, there are teachers and administrators who are repelled by the progressive left platform, but they are a minority, and they do not have the power to resist the onslaught effectively.
It is encouraging that a sizable number of citizens recognize the toxicity of CRT. These rebels – largely but not exclusively parents of students – have objected to the forced indoctrination and have had some limited success at blunting leftist CRT brainwashing at American schools.
The counter-offensive coming from CRT boosters has been two-fold. Many insist that alarmed parents are mistaken in their concern. CRT, enthusiasts say, is an advanced academic discipline that is taught in colleges, graduate programs, and law schools. They claim that students are not exposed to it before they finish high school. Furthermore, members of the leftist cabal maintain that anyone who objects to CRT is really saying that the “true history” of America should not be presented in school.
Notice that the woke elite are making two mendacious assertions. It may be true that what is being pushed in school is not officially labeled “Critical Race Theory,” but the conclusions of CRT are omnipresent in the classroom. The second claim that CRT is based on “true history” is an attempt to disguise woke politics as something that has validity (it does not).
So, to what extent can it be proved that CRT ideology is ubiquitous in pre-college schools? Recently an empirical survey was conducted by Zach Goldberg and Eric Kaufmann, two scholars affiliated with the Manhattan Institute. The survey queried a national sample of “1,505 18 to 20 year-old Americans – a demographic that has yet to graduate from, or only recently graduated from, high school.” Participants where asked if they were taught in school or heard from an adult in school each of four assertions that are central to the tenets of CRT. For each CRT statement more than half of the young people indicated that they were exposed to the assertion. This establishes compelling evidence that CRT material is saturated in educational institutions. https://www.city-journal.org/yes-critical-race-theory-is-being-taught-in-schools
The investigators took their analyses a few steps further. For each CRT assertion, students were asked if they were taught alternatives to the leftist progressive statement. The majority indicated that they either were not exposed to alternatives or were informed that there are no respectable arguments against woke ideology.
Finally, the Manhattan Institute researchers looked at the relationship between how many CRT concepts students reported being exposed to (from none to all four of them) and student agreement with CRT beliefs. As expected, more exposure is associated with a higher percentage of students swallowing the propaganda.
The authors have documented that students themselves report that CRT is pushed in schools and that force-feeding CRT concepts to young people can affect their attitudes (in the wrong direction). Of course, this is a discouraging state of affairs. The crucial issue is to figure out what should be done to set things right.
Apparently, the Manhattan Institute investigators believe that American schools might be fixed by passing laws and changing formal policies. Regarding CRT material in the classroom, they write, “But schools and teachers that wish to teach about these concepts should be given the option of either teaching the diversity of thought surrounding them or being barred from teaching them altogether.”
That recommendation is not likely to lead to a good outcome. Consider again the composition of the educational establishment. Most of the players with power and prestige are true-believers, committed to progressive leftism. A huge contingent of rank-and-file teachers are completely on-board with the woke agenda. If tomorrow it became illegal or against official policy to push CRT many would defy the “reactionary-anti-progressive” directive and continue their relentless campaigning – perhaps by slipping in messages surreptitiously. They have a numerical majority and would be proud to resist what they would call an “extreme right wing conspiracy.”
What about requiring that along with CRT indoctrination schools should also present alternative views and counter arguments? Let the students see both sides. This plays directly into the hands of the woke ruling class. There are numerous alternatives to CRT thinking – some sound, some idiotic. You can bet that woke educators would select the most foolish, easy-to-refute narratives that are opposed to CRT.
I have argued previously that leftists have prevailed in their long march. It is too late to fix the schools. But there is a path that can work. Concerned citizens can present valid material to students outside of school that will innoculate them from succumbing to woke poison. http://www.alertmindpublishing.com/data/2022-columns/parents-control-the-schools-2022-jan/
What is the appropriate message? Young people should be exposed to the best concepts of Enlightenment philosophy – the core ideas that inspired the most intelligent founders of the United States. Individualism is the doctrine that every human being should be judged according to how that person acts. It is incompatible with the collectivist notion that group identity is of prime importance. That means that no person should be penalized or rewarded for behaviors that were done by ancestors. The sentiments responsible for “all men are created equal,” Lady Justice deliberately blindfolded, “content of character, not color of skin” are examples of Enlightenment individualism.
It is significant that Enlightenment individualism is incompatible with woke leftism. It is one or the other. You have to make up your mind. Are you a mentally healthy autonomous person responsible for your actions, or are you just part of the collective – like a bee in a hive?
How can valid Enlightenment-inspired content be delivered to students? Parents can have their children attend classes outside of schools. The classes can be in-person or via the internet. There are many concerned citizens who are qualified to present the proper material to young people. Parents can also tell their kids that sometimes what is taught in school is valid, and sometimes it is not. Sorting out truth from fallacy is a good habit students should be encouraged to develop.
Yes, it is tragic that CRT is being thrust upon young people in schools. The solution is to educate students outside of the schools. There is a lot of work to be done.
*** See other entries at AlertMindPublishing.com in “Monthly Columns.” ***