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Smeared By MSNBC For Refusing To Teach Kids To Hate Each Other, Colorado School District Hits Back

MSNBC segment with Chris Hayes and Ta-Nehisi Coates
Image CreditMSNBC/YouTube

After being targeted by MSNBC, Colorado’s conservative Woodland Park School District is correcting the record.


After being targeted by a dishonest corporate media smear campaign on behalf of left-wing teachers unions, Colorado’s conservative Woodland Park School Board and parents are fighting back and correcting the record.

Home to Merit Academy, the school chartered by parents for education in valor and responsibility, the Woodland Park School District earned the ire of the propaganda press after it decided against using Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book “Between the World and Me” in its teaching. The book, district leaders said, violated state and local social study standards, which aim to teach kids “so they may become worthy of their ancestors by becoming full members of the American republic … self-reliant citizens who respect the dignity and the rights of their fellow Americans, who love their country, and who cherish our liberties and our laws.”

These standards, of course, cut against left-wing narratives, so MSNBC’s Chris Hayes aimed his fire at the conservative district last week. “Even in states that aren’t laying down edicts about teaching about race, local school boards are pursuing that agenda,” Hayes said, “like in Woodland Park, Colorado, where a school board member grilled a high school teacher about one of the texts taught in a history elective.”

Hayes was referring to a board meeting on Jan. 25 during which the school district’s Vice President Dave Illingworth interviewed an applicant for an empty board position, quoting from Coates’ book and asking the interviewee if he agreed:

In his 2015 book ‘Between the World and Me,’ Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, among other things, ‘The power of domination and exclusion is central to the belief in being white, and without it, white people would cease to exist.’ My question to you: Do you agree with this teaching? Would it be appropriate or even lawful to teach a child to view a person as inherently bad or dangerous simply because of the color of their skin?

“I wasn’t grilling a teacher,” Illingworth told The Federalist. “I was talking to somebody who had applied to serve on the Board of Education.”

But that was just the beginning of the media’s lies.

More concerned with furthering left-wing narratives than getting the facts right, Hayes invited Coates to defend his book unopposed on live television. Illingworth, of course, wasn’t invited — but he and other Woodland Park parents and leaders aren’t letting the smears slide.

Lie #1: Woodland Park Wants to Indoctrinate Kids

While the MSNBC host claimed that removing Coates’ book from Woodland Park curriculum was meant to suppress black history, Illingworth rejects that assertion.

“It wasn’t that the book was removed from classrooms or removed from the library or any sort of order went out … to discourage people from reading or anything like that,” Illingworth said. “It just wasn’t a good fit for the standards that were adopted.”

In accordance with the aforementioned American Birthright Social Studies (ABSS) standards — which Woodland Park adopted in addition to state requirements and which require social studies to cultivate love, not hate, for their country, and respect for their fellow Americans, not disdain for them based on the color of their skin — WPSD Superintendent Ken Witt deemed Coates’ book noncompliant.

“It is incumbent on educators to use thoughtful review in selecting curriculum materials, and on the district in approving them,” Witt said. “This informs our civics curriculum choices.”

“My main criteria on those standards is: Is it going to allow us to improve the way that we teach history, civics, social studies, to our kids, the complete truth, warts and all?” Illingworth said. “I believe, and it’s the belief of many others who have looked at these standards, that yes, it will allow us to do that.”

Lie #2: Coates’ Book Doesn’t Teach Hate

During his MSNBC interview with Hayes, Coates argued that his condemnation is not against white people but against “white” as a category. But whether Coates condemns “white people” or “whiteness,” the effect is the same, and Illingworth says Coates used “a friendly forum with Chris Hayes” to “strawman” the values of Woodland Park, which has committed to teaching history as it is: a web of complex issues that cannot be simplified to winners and losers, or victims and oppressors.

“We can’t be teaching people that white people are bad, or that black people are bad, or that Hispanic people are bad,” Illingworth continued, adding:

[‘Between the World and Me’] is a modern contemporary book published in 2015. It’s not giving us any insight into the civil rights movements of the past. It is basically a memoir of one angry man who blames white people, white America, not only for his problems, but for the problems of all people in this nation.

While Hayes echoes leftist talking points from his studio perch, Woodland Park continues teaching classic literature that educates its students about respect with writings from Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and more, according to Illingworth. Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” will replace “Between the World and Me” in school curriculum. 

“The district will not simply replace one divisive, racist document with another,” Witt said.

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