Nearly two dozen attorneys general from across the U.S. are pushing the Biden administration to stop its push to advance far-left propaganda, including critical race theory and the 1619 Project, in the U.S. public education system.
“The group’s criticism centered on recent proposals from the Department of Education that detail plans in April to provide grants under American History and Civics Education programs for a curriculum teaching diversity and the effects of ‘systemic’ inequality,” Fox News reported. “The department’s proposal on April 19 referenced the 1619 Project, a series of long-form essays that seeks to reframe American history by analyzing the long-term consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans.”
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is leading a group of 20 state attorneys general against the Biden administration’s efforts to impose “the teaching of critical race theory (CRT), the 1619 Project, and other similar curriculum into America’s classrooms.”
“This proposed rule aims to co-opt America’s traditional U.S. history and civics curriculum by imposing the deeply flawed and radical teachings of critical race theory into the classroom,” Attorney General Rokita said. “I’m thankful for the leadership of my colleagues in joining us to call on the Biden administration to reverse course on this reckless federal imposition into our schools.”
Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia have also signed onto Rokita’s letter to the Department of Education.
The letter highlights the following “harm” that children will receive if they are taught from the “deeply flawed and controversial teachings of Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project”:
The proposed priorities specifically cite the work of [Ibram X.] Kendi as a basis for their implementation, contending that they will reduce discrimination and racist behavior: “Antiracist ideas argue that racist policies are the cause of racist inequalities.” As recently noted by Frederick Hess, “upon closer scrutiny, it quickly becomes apparent just how wholly Kendi’s doctrine is at odds with American traditions of equality, free inquiry, and ordered liberty. Kendi holds that every single thing in the world— every action, idea, thought, and policy—is either ‘racist’ or ‘anti-racist.’” However, Kendi’s own record in implementing what are described as these “anti-racist practices” rather than reduce discrimination, instead actually increase discrimination. For example, Kendi helped lead the opposition against the selection process for the elite Boston Latin School, the Boston Latin Academy, and the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. Relying heavily on a merit-based testing regime, Asian applicants received a disproportionately high number of the scarce 205 available seats. “With COVID as a pretext, equity advocates set up a new system to fill the spots based on zip codes and grades, a plan that will result in a 24 percent reduction in Asians, an 18 percent reduction in whites, a 50 percent increase in blacks, and a 14 percent increase in Hispanics.”
Thus, the implementation of Kendi’s teachings in Boston, rather than reduce discrimination, instead increased discrimination, especially against Asian Americans, a group that has been recently targeted with particularly vicious hate crimes.
The hypocrisy inherent in the teaching of CRT is not limited to Kendi’s work. For example, Harvard University has been accused, repeatedly, of discriminating against Asian Americans by modifying a merit-based application process to reduce the number of successful Asian American applicants in favor of other races, precisely as Kendi advocated for in Boston. Harvard recently underwent a lengthy trial in federal district court during which the plaintiffs, a group of Asian American students whose applications for admission were denied, presented volumes of evidence in support of their allegation that Harvard effectively operated a quota system designed to keep the number of Asian American students artificially low. The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that such quota systems are illegal. Moreover, such a system does violence to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a nation where individuals “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Similarly, based on a complaint filed by another group of Asian American students, the Department of Justice during the prior administration conducted a lengthy and thorough investigation of Yale University’s admissions practices. At the end of that investigation, the Department of Justice issued a findings letter concluding that Yale University had discriminated against Asian American applicants in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When Yale refused to voluntarily change its policies, the Justice Department filed suit seeking to remedy this discrimination. The highly qualified Asian American applicants Yale rejected in favor of less qualified applicants of other races surely deserved better, but under the application of CRT, they suffered their own discrimination.
Issues of race and discrimination are complex, but instead of teaching American history and civics, as plainly spelled out in the statute, the proposed priorities would dilute the quality of American history and civics education in America in favor of a hyper-racialized and ahistorical doctrine. They are not focused on promoting truth or a holistic understanding of American history and the ideals that the Founders used to establish our country as required by statute, but instead are being used to promote revisionist American history and principles that lead to more discrimination, not less.
These actions clearly demonstrate the real world disconnect between the stated goals of CRT and its effects. Thus the intended remedy for our civic illiteracy is indeed more virulent than the disease.
It is also curious that Proposed Priority 1, like Kendi in Boston, cites “COVID-19—with its disproportionate impact on communities of color”—as support. There is no doubt that, as the Department has noted in several releases, COVID-19 and the inept response by some large urban schools had disproportionate impact on “students of color” as the priority commentary and others note.
A study from Brown University found that the shutdowns last spring likely set the average student back roughly 35 percent in reading and more than 50 percent in math compared to a typical year. These disruptions are impacting vulnerable student populations, especially low-income students, children in foster care, students of color, as well as children with disabilities. A study by McKinsey & Company found that school shutdowns deprived lower-income students of vital support and engagement, likely resulting in significant learning losses. It estimates, for example, that while the average loss of learning due to the pandemic is nearly seven months, black students could fall behind by 10.3 months, Hispanic students by 9.2 months, and low-income students by more than a year. This would exacerbate existing achievement gaps by 15 to 20 percent.
The United States has been combatting these achievement gaps for many years, and the increase caused by COVID-19 has been disheartening. Given this alarming increase, it is disturbing that the Department has chosen to prioritize advancing this flawed CRT curriculum instead of focusing on reducing the COVID-19 enhanced achievement gap. The adoption of these priorities would cause lower performing schools to continue to fail students of color, students with disabilities, and students in poverty through teaching revisionist history, instead of focusing their resources to make sure their students can “read and write at basic proficiency by the time they graduate middle school.” They are taking on a façade that requires a shift to attacking “abstract societal problems.”
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Author: Ryan Saavedra