Much of the political discourse last year was centered on education, specifically when it came to elements of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other tenets of wokeism being introduced in the classroom. Footage of angry parents speaking out at school board meetings peppered social media as politicians, influencers, and members of the chattering class furiously argued in favor of their preferred narratives. So far, with many educators still trying to do their own thing regardless of what parents want, it doesn’t seem 2022 will be much different. Are America’s schools going rogue?
As the political realm prepares for the oncoming midterm elections, Virginia’s Gov. Glenn Youngkin may offer a preview of how the battle will shape up. Shortly after being sworn in, the governor signed an order banning the teaching of CRT concepts in K-12 schools. This move prompted a series of mixed reactions. One parent told WTKR that the measure was “wonderful.” She said: “I define [CRT] as basically judging somebody by the color of their skin, telling especially the white children that because they are white they should be ashamed, they should be responsible for any race issues in this country.”
On the other hand, opponents of the ban contend CRT is not being taught in the classroom and that the right simply uses it as a boogeyman. A school board member indicated that Youngkin’s order was unnecessary for this reason. “I take every concern from our parents very seriously. If they do have a concern about what’s being taught, how it’s being taught, depending on the concern, I always take those concerns to [the superintendent],” she said.
Critics of the anti-CRT movement are correct in pointing out the actual theory isn’t being taught. However, those speaking out against these ideas contend that teachings derived from the theory are being infused into the curriculum. “I don’t think anyone has ever said CRT 101 is a class in schools, but it has certainly been something the Department of Education as well as some school boards are asking their teachers to understand and put in their lesson plans,” said Tim Mack, the president of Students First VA.
There is much speculation that Youngkin’s order will be challenged in the courts. If so, it may be the beginning of a larger legal battle that could carry on throughout 2022. Some educators have indicated they would refuse to comply with the governor’s ban and teach these concepts anyway. This mirrors the remarks of other teachers across the country who have said they will teach what they want regardless of the law. Indeed, the Zinn Education Project had thousands of teachers sign a pledge vowing they will flout anti-CRT laws.
In Oregon, the Newberg Public Schools (NPS) school board passed a measure to ban political ideology from the classroom. The Daily Wire reported:
“Last year, four Newberg Public Schools (NPS) board members drew a line in the sand against what they viewed as indoctrination. After years of schools proudly flying the ‘progressive flag,’ a version of the gay pride flag with shades of black and brown to communicate minority oppression, as well as Black Lives Matter (BLM) flags, the members voted in August 2021 to ban ‘political’ flags, signs, and clothing.”
However, the district’s leadership is ignoring the measure, and the board members who introduced it “are being targeted by a mob of wealthy progressives, and one has been fired from his job after being doxxed,” according to The Daily Wire. Parents with children in the district complained that CRT concepts are still being taught with impunity, as teachers know they will not face consequences.
But the rogue education issue involves more than just Critical Race Theory. Chicago schools were the subject of debate when teachers decided they would not return to class in the new school year supposedly over concerns related to the Omicron variant. This move met with fiery criticism, even from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who went as far as to intimate the walkouts might be criminal.
The issue seemed to have been at least temporarily addressed when the teacher’s union and the district came to an agreement. But even this development is tenuous. Liberty Nation’s James Fite explained at the time:
“A deal had been reached and the union leadership signed off on it. CPS staff returned to work Tuesday, Jan. 11, with in-person classes resuming today, Jan. 12. The trade-off is that if more than 25% of the staff or students test positive for COVID-19, the schools can return to virtual learning.”
It seems reasonable to predict that America will see more of these stories as the conflict over education reaches higher temperatures. Republicans have already made this a substantial issue for midterm campaigns, and they are positioning themselves as the ones who care about parents’ concern for their children.
The Democrats have unwisely chosen to take the position that people should have little to no say in what their kids are being taught. Terry McAuliffe, Youngkin’s opponent, and more recently, 1619 project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones expressed this sentiment. Indeed, McAuliffe’s remarks were seen as the final nail in his political coffin.
For the GOP, education will almost certainly be a winning issue in 2022. This is especially true if more schools go rogue and continue alienating parents. Sending the message that people’s worries about their children are unimportant isn’t the most brilliant move, yet the Democrats seem to have that gun already drawn and aimed right at their feet. How long will it take for them to pull the trigger?
~ Read more from Jeff Charles.