Critical race theory in K-12 schools remains a hot-button issue – even after revelations about transgender ideology being infused into the curriculum took center stage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. When parents began showing up at school board meetings to protest the far-left ideology being used in these learning institutions, progressives responded by simultaneously claiming the theory was not being taught in schools, and that there is nothing wrong with teaching ideas inspired by wokeness to young students.
Amid the backlash against what many view as an effort to indoctrinate children into progressive ideology, multiple states passed legislation to prohibit teachers from presenting CRT ideas on race in the classroom. Some of those states have banned certain books, which has led members of the left-wing chattering class to accuse them of “book banning” a la Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, conservatives and others who reject the woke agenda in academia lauded the new rules. But is this the best way to curtail the spread of far-leftist politics in K-12 classes?
Pushing Back Against Critical Race Theory
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made headlines once again after the state rejected an AP African American studies course created by the College Board, the organization responsible for developing and administering the SAT. The state’s education board notified the College Board of its decision, saying that it lacked educational value and seemed to be designed to introduce leftist ideas to the students. The organization later retooled the content to comply with Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, which forbids concepts related to critical race theory in schools.
Texas, South Carolina, and several other red states enacted similar legislation last year. The left responded by claiming racist Republicans are merely attempting to erase black history and present a whitewashed version of events that happened in America’s past.
But some on the right have questioned the efficacy of using state legislation to disallow certain books and teachings in the classroom. The Daily Caller’s Luis Ramirez penned an op-ed in which he suggested that “banning subjects sets a dangerous precedent for future leaders to do the same for topics we hold dear.”
“Some schools have already prohibited classic novels like To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn because of their supposed racism or canceled the Founding Fathers,” Ramirez added.
The author pointed to Texas’ approach to this situation as a more effective way to combat the proliferation of concepts related to critical race theory in the classroom. The Lone Star State can simply reduce funding for K-12 schools and universities that present teaching, indicating that an individual is inherently bigoted or an oppressor based on their ethnicity.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) is leading the charge to pass similar legislation at the federal level. If passed, his bill would defund schools that “promote race-based theories” and influence children to believe that the United States and its founding documents are racist in nature.
Ramirez argues that by cutting funding, “you deter these subjects from being taught without outright banning them” and that “you can’t be called a book burner or accused of restricting speech.” Instead of directly banning certain materials from these schools, defunding them would still allow the anti-woke crowd to say they are not violating the spirit of the First Amendment.
However, regardless of the intentions of those voting for these laws, it is worth questioning whether they will be a workable deterrent to school districts embracing wokeism. In March 2022, watchdog group Accuracy in Media (AIM) went undercover to ask teachers in various states like Idaho, Tennessee, and others about how they are using workarounds to continue teaching these concepts without calling it critical race theory. Indeed, many school districts have simply repackaged the ideas in prettier wrapping paper, referring to it as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) curriculum or Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).
Lisa Logan, a parent and education activist, told Liberty Nation:
“As an integral part of social emotional learning, students are encouraged to focus on their identity (race, class, gender, etc.) in order to critically examine issues such as power, privilege and the systems institutions that supposedly oppress or elevate groups of people based on that identity. A sense of collective belonging is then forged by students realizing what role they can play as a co-creator in coming up with (anti-racist) solutions to what are claimed as systemic issues around these injustices—either as an oppressed class or an ally to that oppressed class – through social justice activism.”
To put it simply, these state laws are not as potent as they might seem.
A Better Solution?
Proponents argue anti-CRT laws can contribute to the solution when it comes to preventing school districts from infusing left-wing politics into the curriculum – but they are not the be-all and end-all. It is not difficult for teachers to find other ways to present these ideas without running afoul of state legislation. But this does not mean there is no solution that would be more effective.
For starters, focusing on the government closest to the people is a better way to determine what children will be taught in the classroom. It is one of the reasons why so many conservatives ran for school board seats across the country, and helped turn entire school boards from blue to red in November’s midterm elections.
In at least one case, this has already paid off. In the Berkeley County School District in South Carolina, the school board voted to oust the superintendent, fire the district’s lawyer, ban critical race theory, and form a committee to review the books and materials being used in the schools. These officials will be able to keep a closer eye on what teachers are using in their lesson plans, meaning it will be harder for them to influence these young minds politically. Taking over school boards will go a long way toward curtailing efforts to indoctrinate children.
And then there is school choice. When parents are empowered to exercise different educational options for their children, they can shield their kids from being propagandized in the classroom. They can place their young ones in schools that teach what the parents want them to learn.
This means that for adults who want their kids to learn about critical race theory, they can have that choice as well. Going this route will ensure the free expression of ideas without forcing parents to allow their children to be taught concepts of which they do not approve. In the end, this would likely be a more equitable solution for all involved.
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