The Lessons Lost When Critical Race Theory Arrives in Class

The idea of Critical Race Theory is not new, but it has been gaining traction in recent years. What are the implications for education?

Critical Race Theory is a theory that was created to address the inequalities in society. It has five principles that are necessary for understanding how racism works.

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4:31 p.m., 14 July 2021 ET

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Bloomberg News/Bloomberg News/David Paul Morris

The movement to integrate critical race theory into American education is based on the premise that American schools have been teaching a whitewashed version of our country’s history, a patriotic interpretation that overlooks the country’s faults. However, everyone educated in the United States is well aware that for decades, left-leaning academics who are extremely critical of American heritage have dominated the subject. The present debate is essentially about whether liberals’ mostly accurate criticisms of America will be supplanted with anti-American rants authored by propagandists who aren’t bothered with truth.

This column has hoped that the mainly liberal teachers who stand in front of America’s classrooms would be roused to proclaim — loudly — that they are not Marxists or racialists, and that they do not support the fact-free radicalism currently being pushed by their union leadership. Today offers some reason for hope, as well as a healthy reminder that the teachings that will be swept away to make room for the new propaganda will be greatly valued by Americans of both parties.

Despite the numerous flaws in the project highlighted by historians across the political spectrum, the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers organization, recently passed a resolution vowing to “oppose efforts to prohibit critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.” The union also said that it will join “Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project” in calling for a “national day of action to impart lessons about systemic racism and oppression.” Howard Zinn was a Marxist opponent of American liberty whose rants drew more attention from Hollywood celebrities than from historians.

In terms of critical race theory, Ramona Bessinger, a veteran English teacher in Rhode Island public schools, writes on the Legal Insurrection website about her experience when a new curriculum arrived:

For me as a teacher, the 2020/21 school year was a sad and worrying turning point. One of the most racially divisive, nasty, and historically incorrect curriculums I’ve ever seen in my teaching career was presented to Providence K-8 teachers. Yes, I’m referring to the contentious critical race theory that has entered our Rhode Island public schools under the guise of Cuturally Responsive learning and teaching, which involves an emphasis on identities. The terms “critical race theory” are not used in the materials, but the ideas are presented. The new, racist curriculum and materials are almost entirely focused on an oppressor-oppressed narrative, causing racial conflicts among students and staff where none previously existed.

Ms. Bessinger debunks the notion that today’s curriculum are full with writers who are oblivious to America’s flaws and past sins:

For children to learn about slavery and prejudice, we didn’t need a new curriculum. We’ve previously done that, in great detail, drawing on the works of renowned African-American writers… The variety, perspective, truth, and rigor that had previously been taught were absent from our curriculum for the 2020/21 school year. Books that had previously been inspected were taken from our classroom and recycled. The diverse collection of American and World Literature had vanished: Sandra Cisneros’ House On Mango Street, [James Baldwin’s] Go Tell It On The Mountain, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, essays by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., poetry by Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, Anne Frank, Night, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, Macbeth, Walt Whitman, The Salem Witch Trials, The Crucible, Holocaust studies… What upset me the most was the fact that I would no longer be teaching about the Holocaust. Anne Frank, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and, depending on reading ability, Elie Weisel’s Night were all included in the Holocaust lesson. When I questioned where all the Holocaust literature were, the school reading coach replied, “We don’t teach the Holocaust because students can’t connect to the narrative.” Hundreds of new leaflet-style pamphlets appeared around January 2021, all badly written, historically prejudiced, incorrect, and promoting a racial narrative… I was perplexed and assumed there had been a mistake. “Comrade, we were instructed to remove all classroom sets of reading material in order to make space for the incoming sets of books,” a teacher leader joked when I inquired what was going on. I laughed because I thought it was a joke. But this was no joke; it was genuine and taking place in my school, in my classroom.

Despite its intellectual bankruptcy, Ms. Bessinger claims that the new curriculum was successful in altering students’ minds:

Finally, for some kids, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was no longer an option. We are not permitted to inquire as to why, and the fact is that I was aware of the reason. These young people were already starting to despise America. I was the only one still standing, and I was the only one who could be heard shouting “liberty and justice for everyone.” Because I was white, some classmates began calling me “America” halfway through the school year. Because of my skin tone, these kids, whom I like, were turning against me. I don’t blame them; I blame the racial myths that are instilled in them at a young age.

Are other educators prepared to speak out against this ideological attack on public education in the United States?

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“The Cost: Trump, China, and American Revival” is co-authored by James Freeman.

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Critical race theory is a new school of thought that has arrived in classrooms. This theory has been used to teach students about the injustices and discrimination faced by people of color. Teachers unions have had mixed reactions to this theory, as some believe it will help improve the education system. Reference: teachers unions and critical race theory in schools.

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