While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying to reestablish some semblance of sanity in the Sunshine State’s education system, the District of Columbia’s Board of Education is doubling down on wokeism.
According to a Feb. 12 article in The Washington Post, the city’s public school system — serving 96,000 students — is preparing to roll out a new social studies curriculum for the 2024-2025 school year that will eliminate what one school board member called “problematic” and “archaic” material. A closer look at the proposed revisions serves as Exhibit A for why parents need to follow what’s happening in their children’s schools.
Sexual and Racial Radicalism
Amazingly, D.C. officials aren’t hiding how truly radical they aim to make the city’s social studies curriculum. Kindergarteners will learn how to understand their “gender identities,” as well as “identify different kinds of family structures, including single-parent, grandparent-headed, multiracial and LGBTQ+,” according to the Post.
First graders currently learn “to identify symbols and traditions associated with the United States” and to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But that will seemingly be scrapped in favor of learning how “one can work together to achieve a shared goal,” which sounds suspiciously like a means of encouraging activism rather than citizenship.
In case you think such fears seem conspiratorial, consider that under the old curriculum, second graders learned how a person “becomes a U.S. citizen and what it takes to be a good citizen,” but under the new curriculum, there will instead be a “special focus” on “the geography of Indigenous nations,” presumably so students will be well equipped to perform land acknowledgments. And in case that seems conspiratorial, consider that third graders will be taught the “contributions of Piscataway and Pamunkey peoples to the D.C. region.”
It just gets more bizarre. Third graders will “discuss the importance of ‘affirming spaces,’ which are safe places for people to express their identities,” as well as “the Home Rule movement and discuss how a lack of statehood affects residents.”
Fourth graders will learn about the importance of the year 1619 (a nice little nod to Nikole Hannah-Jones, who created the 1619 Project) while fifth graders analyze the rise of “queer culture.” Sixth-grade students are urged to “consider who is harmed by border policies, how racism, privilege and bias affect the way resources are distributed (and how that distribution has influenced racism and imperialism) and the extent to which a European worldview has dominated global society.’”
Good Little Liberal Activists
Elementary schoolchildren in the nation’s capital will be inculcated in the talking points of the Democratic Party. They will be trained to look for systemic racism, white privilege, and the patriarchy (10th graders learn about “Eurocentrism”). They will be formed not into citizens who love and respect their nation for the unprecedented goods it has delivered to generations of Americans, but into aggrieved activists who believe themselves victims of an oppressive regime.
At least in the District of Columbia, the story of America will no longer be one of freedom and virtue encouraged and protected by republican government, but one of victimized parties suffering under the yoke of “European colonizers.” Little surprise, when seventh graders learn about George Washington, they focus on “his legacy as an enslaver.” In that same grade, students learn about the “rise of white supremacist groups,” I’m guessing because officials in the District, like those governing all our establishment institutions, believe (risibly) such tiny, inconsequential groups are currently the greatest existential threat to our nation.
Multiple times in the curriculum, D.C. students will be taught that the evils of our nation were performed by “primarily white men” or “mostly white men.” Unsurprisingly, the WaPo derides the old curriculum for including biographies of prominent historical figures who “acted righteously,” which I presume is a woke way of claiming that the great figures of American history have been too valorized. (In my 12 years in Virginia public schools, and my time as a public high-school history teacher in Virginia, I never remember any American hero described as “righteous.”) Regardless, the point seems to be that our history should not provoke pride, but shame, and drive the next generation to further labor to dismantle all vestiges of patriarchal, racist power.
This Will Spread Like Kudzu
Officials have collected feedback from parents, students, and teachers, and expect to adopt new standards this spring, according to the Post.
Of course, it’s true, we are talking about Washington, D.C., one of the most liberal places in the United States, where Joe Biden won a staggering 93 percent of the vote in the 2020 presidential election. But these things have a way of spreading, as demonstrated by the fact that once-peripheral ideas about systemic racism and white privilege found only in graduate seminars are now taught in schools across the country to millions of American children, thanks to the 1619 Project and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Hard History” program. If parents do not invest the necessary time to understand what their local schools are teaching, they will discover in time that an entire generation of American youth has been radicalized.
Yes, undoubtedly, American children need to learn about the mistreatment of indigenous tribes and the unjust enslavement, exploitation, and disenfranchisement of blacks. Conservative resistance to new woke curricula is often panned as wanting to shield children from such inconvenient truths. That is a ridiculous caricature.
In truth, conservatives fear a very different kind of simplistic historical narrative, one that presents the American story primarily through the lens of victims and victimizers. According to the new curriculum, D.C. seniors will investigate “the ways BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) and queer youth are impacting change.” How is that not foregrounding identity politics in the name of victimhood?
Conservatives fear that American children will learn not to love our country, warts and all, but despise the (admittedly imperfect) heroes who built the greatest nation on Earth. They fear, not without warrant, that American children will be taught white men are categorically evil, and persons of color are categorically heroic.
Yet all binary historical narratives are superficial and dissatisfying. Human nature is too complicated for that. The problem is that the apparatchiks in D.C. don’t even realize they are the ones promoting such facile fictions, to the detriment of thousands of students in our nation’s capital. Parents across America must take heed.