Teaching that objectivity, merit, color blindness, and math, to name a few, are racist is a recipe for disaster.
Erika Sanzi, a veteran education writer and director of outreach at Parents Defending Education, reports that her organization is hearing daily from concerned parents and teachers about what they describe as: “racially divisive curriculum.”
Some concerns from parents:
- “blatant activism in the classroom,’
- “infantilization of students and staff of color”
- “sanctioned discrimination”
- “radical gender ideology”
- “racist poison”
One father told Ms. Sanzi, “We did not immigrate to this country for our children to be taught in taxpayer funded schools that punctuality and hard work are white values.”
Frederick Hess and J. Grant Addison argue in The Dispatch that the real institutional forces restricting opportunity won’t be fixed by woke curricula.
Purging White Supremacy from Math Curricula
The anti-racist agenda is sprawling, encompassing subjects as seemingly far afield as math. California’s Department of Education has proposed an “anti-racist math framework” intended to rectify the “problem” of Asian Americans filling an outsized share of seats in gifted programs. The framework would “ban grouping students by ability or merit, all but eliminating algebra for middle schoolers and a crucial two years of calculus for high schoolers.”
The Oregon Department of Education has urged teachers to be trained on “ethnomathematics” in order to purge “white supremacy” from math curricula (purportedly racist practices include requiring students to “show their work” or putting an emphasis on “getting the ‘right answer’”).
Anti-racist education has become a racialized justification for all manner of bad, long-discredited ideas. Like hippie educators of the early ’70s, anti-racists want to end grading as conventionally understood. One prominent “grading equity advocate” is Cornelius Minor. Minor has partnered with entities like Columbia Teachers College and the International Literacy Association to dismantle “pernicious” grading practices, such as requiring students to demonstrate subject-matter understanding in order to receive an A. Minor teaches that one “cannot separate grading practices” from “the history of classism, sexism, racism, and ableism in the United States.” A teacher’s inability to perceive a student’s knowledge, under this framing, is more typically evidence of a teacher’s racism than a student’s lack of knowledge.
The Folly of Anti-Racist Education
The authors point out that anti-racist education today has little to do with “forging coalitions to tackle these challenges, confront obvious instances of racism, or help teach students to engage thoughtfully and open-mindedly on issues of race.” Rather, they insist, “anti-racist educational project turns out to be a strange, sophomoric assault on civilization itself.”
After all, it’s hardly the case that “white” culture is uniquely math-obsessed or analytic. Around the globe, air traffic controllers who supervise flying steel, surgeons who handle human hearts, or architects whose bridges resist gravity’s pull tend to value precision, objectivity, and rationality. This is true in Alabama and Angola, without regard to race, nationality, or cultural background.
The truth is that the leaders and practitioners of “anti-racist” education don’t appear interested in anything so small as improving education for black and brown children or in teaching students not to be racists. Rather, Kendi, DiAngelo, and their ilk are seeking cultural revolution in the name of an illiberal doctrine that poses a mortal threat to schooling.
Anti-racism’s hostility to reason, rejection of civilizational virtue, and labeling of skepticism is not another culture war dog whistle but an assault on the very soul of liberal education.
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