“Mom, can you look at this assignment?” A few weeks ago, before the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic forced my school-aged children home, I looked at the homework sheet my high school-age child was referring to and quickly realized what prompted the question. The freshman world history reading assignment was about parents raising “theybies.”
Scratching my head, I read through the assigned article, which included definitions such as “gender is a social construct” followed by leading questions asking students to regurgitate gender theory. The next day, my child received an assignment that taught him about critical race theory before he read an article about when black singer Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road” was kicked off the country music charts. The class? Physics.
What Are My Kids Learning?
Needless to say, now with my kids home and me overseeing their daily e-learning, this is a great opportunity to take a deeper look at the left-wing theories on race and gender, not to mention climate change, that public schools are pushing on my children.
My 11-year-old middle school son was assigned the following two videos for “Integrated Global Studies” class. The first is an alarmist video that promotes donations to a bogus fund. The second has countless grammatical errors and lacks any sort of sourcing.
Before Halloween last fall, the same school sent out this memo regarding cultural appropriation, sharing a Teen Vogue video and explaining that cultural appropriation is “defined as the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another.” (So I guess the school’s annual “Luau Madness” party is also off).
Over the last several years, my children’s schools have pushed for “equity,” which usually starts with a survey or audit about “school climate.” Of course, the ideologues hired to do the surveys always find that certain groups feel oppressed, and thus interventions are necessary to create what they deem as safe learning environments where everyone feels welcome. But only certain dimensions of identity politics, particularly race, gender, and sexuality, are measured. If you are shy or not cool, you are on your own to figure out how to feel welcome.
Schools also push equity agendas by targeting any disparity between racial groups. These disparities are generally blamed on systemic racism and subsequently require an equity intervention through training programs, such as those offered by Pacific Educational Group, Corwin, or any number of consultants in the multimillion-dollar equity consulting industry.
These groups typically provide courses on how to “address the complexities of dismantling white supremacy” or how to use “critical race theory to establish cultural relevance between teachers and students in the racially complex classroom.” Our neighboring Chicago-area school district even used federal Title I funds — earmarked for low-income students — to send school board members to this type of training.
Equity Programs Hurt Students
My children’s high school defines equity as, “[E]very student should have access to the resources and educational rigor at the right moment in their education regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background or family income.” At first glance, this looks good. Any decent parent would be horrified if the school were denying kids the resources they need to succeed.
But if you read further, you find language that states equity “confronts systems of advantage and disadvantage based on race, cultural background, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, religious belief, and other forms of identity.” If that sounds like Marxist identity politics, it is.
Equity at its core is based in left-wing critical race theory that assumes institutional racism and oppression pervade every corner of society and necessitate the redistribution of resources based on “oppressed” status. It is sold as a warm, fuzzy idea of helping kids succeed, but it serves as a gateway for training teachers on how racist they are, reducing academic standards, exchanging traditional curriculum with more “culturally relevant” material, and fomenting resentment between groups rather than promoting the safe school climate these equity plans say they so desire.
Equity is even being used as an excuse not to teach during the coronavirus pandemic, such as in Washington state and Philadelphia. If you can’t teach all kids equally, don’t teach at all? Thankfully, these schools are rethinking their strategies after the Department of Education issued this memo. They could look at the KIPP Academies, a leading charter school network, which serves low-income and rural students. It is distributing Chromebooks and even using buses to distribute and pick up paper-based assignments where students lack an internet connection.
The worst failure of equity programs is that they do not improve student performance. Neighboring Evanston district student performance dropped after the school board introduced its radical equity program. This is the same district where teachers heard a presentation on why “meritocracy is a myth.” How does that benefit a child trying to climb the economic ladder?
Schools are likely to continue e-learning efforts in the upcoming weeks as we continue through the pandemic. Parents, use this time when your children are home to find out what they are learning. It will be interesting to see how many parents discover that kids do not have to be in a classroom to learn, and that they have options, especially if the curriculum in their schools is pushing fringe race and gender theories on their kids.