Critical Race Theory. As parents across the nation are making an ever greater backlash against that kind of racist revision of history and reality, schools and teacher’s unions first tried to defend it, then they tried to deny it actually exists —nothing like that is being taught, honest!—then they arrogantly announced they were not only going to teach it, they were going to “investigate” and harass anyone daring to oppose the NEA and teaching of CRT, and most recently the NEA backpedaled again:
The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, has scrubbed pro-critical race theory “business items” from its website according to a new report.
Just The News notes the deletions come just a few days after the conclusion of the NEA’s 100th Representative Assembly.
Parents daring to ask school districts to provide the materials being taught their children have found themselves harassed, and some school authorities have even threatened to sue them! Even when Freedom of Information requests are filed, schools often slow roll production, deny everything, redact virtually everything, charge exorbitant fees for copying, or simply refuse to comply with the law.
Let’s examine a bit of reality–real reality. Most states publish “standards” that must be taught in every grade level. School districts must comply with these standards—it’s the law—and additionally, most school districts demand their teachers write curricula that conform to the standards. All of this is posted on district websites. Some of these documents are more general than others. Some districts demand teachers become little more than robots, delivering the same materials in the same ways at the same time. At Johnsonville High School, on October 10 at 1014 AM, every 11th grade student will be on page 256, paragraph 2, sentence 1 of the prescribed literature text, which will be followed at 1022 with approved video #287B-23A. Suffice it to say learning in such places is less than exciting.
It’s also true most school districts demand every teacher post and maintain a weekly lesson plan on their district provided lesson plan website. Of course, some teachers are more dedicated about this than others. The point, gentle readers, is that in virtually every school in America, the curriculum for every grade and subject is readily available, and usually posted not only on the school district’s main website, but all the way down to individual teachers on their websites. Parents wanting to know what their kids are studying on a given day should be able to find it with a few clicks—if the people teaching their kids are keeping up with their lesson plans, and if they’re honest about what they write there. If a school has lost the public’s trust, what’s written on a lesson plan probably won’t matter.
Any school district that cannot quickly provide whatever information a parent requests is either incompetent, or lying to cover up unethical, even illegal, indoctrination.
During my teaching days, I updated my lesson plan website each and every week, so that by the Thursday before the following week, any parent could, at a glance, know what we were studying. Should any parent want to examine the literature we were reading, I could provide copies on very short notice–like immediately upon request. Every week I told parents they were welcome in my classroom, because it was their classroom too. In all my years of teaching, not a single parent ever took me up on that invitation, but if they had, I would have been delighted.
I encouraged my principals to visit frequently so they could be well informed when they wrote my evaluations, and so we could talk about all of the issues revolving around day-to-day teaching. They never came, mostly because they were so busy with idiotic paperwork having nothing to do with actually teaching kids.
Unlike many teachers, I wanted parents and principals in my classroom. I was prepared, each and every day, with interesting and challenging material, and I wanted them to see how much I loved their kids and how dedicated I was to providing the best educational opportunity I could manage. I also thought I was a pretty good teacher, and it wouldn’t hurt for the public to know that.
Obviously, I was not Joe Average teacher.
With the backdrop of the battle over CRT, Stacey Lennox at PJ Media, has an interesting, related, article:
In his monologue on Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson suggested that a way for parents to regain control over K-12 education is to place cameras in classrooms. On Wednesday, he shared that there was quite a bit of backlash about his comments. That should give every parent pause.
As a parent of a certain age, I am old enough to remember when teachers welcomed parent participation in the classroom. Research shows that parental involvement in education leads to better outcomes for children. My mother and my friends’ mothers volunteered to be room mothers. They rotated into the classroom several times a week, helped with activities, and even assisted children who needed a little more help with classroom assignments.
When I was young, back in the 1400s, every school had a PTA—Parent-Teacher Association—that regularly met and discussed every aspect of education. Parent’s direct input was not only sought, but valued and implemented. Ancient history. We’re much more advanced now.
When my children were young, there were room parents instead of just room mothers. This development was terrific, and having dads in the classroom periodically was a great addition. Life had become a little more complex, and not as many moms stayed home. But many of us still made the time to volunteer, and it became a team effort between both parents.
The benefits of this level of interaction should be obvious. Regular informal exchanges built trust between parents and teachers. As a parent, it was much easier for me to support teachers and administrators in their decisions to coach, counsel, or even discipline my child. That kind of consistency between home and school is essential, especially when children are young and learning boundaries.
My school held “Meet The Teacher Night” twice each year. A large parent turnout was about 20%. Many of my colleagues had fewer parents. On one hand one might think this was because most parents trusted what we were doing. I often e-mailed them at the first sign of academic trouble for any student. On the other, there can be little doubt many weren’t all that engaged with their kid’s education.
The Zinn Education Project (ZEP), named after the author of A People’s History of the United States, is urging teachers to ignore state laws passed to prevent the use of critical theory pedagogy in the classroom. The demand sounds benign enough:
At least until you understand that Howard Zinn was a member of the Communist Party and depicts America as a terrorist state. ZEP is just as radical:
In 2008 he [Zinn] helped launch the so-called Zinn Education Project (ZEP), a collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. The initiative was designed to incorporate Zinn’s writings and worldview into all aspects of K-12 school curricula.
The ZEP lessons reinforce Zinn’s presentation of the United States as redeemable only through a socialist revolution. Major historical events are replaced with instances demonstrating relentless oppression.
Zinn, and anyone buying his Communist, anti-America/liberty propaganda, is purely evil.
Taken together, and given the objections to anti-American and identity-centric curriculum from parents across the country, trust in the public school system is irrevocably broken. The only way to restore it is transparency. There is almost no reason a teacher at the elementary level should object to cameras. Parents would expect to see foundational instruction in math, science, reading, and social studies along with specials like art. What most parents do not wish for and will not tolerate is radical gender ideology that instructs children in sexual behavior and asserts that they may choose their gender.
I agree, mostly, with Carlson and Lennox. Those seeking to know what is happening in our schools circa 2021 are not trying to intimidate teachers, to prevent them from teaching a proper, accurate and pro-American curriculum; quite the opposite. They’re responding to socialists, communists, racists, anarchists and others who hate America and Americans, and who are determined America’s children should be as racist and hateful as they. They’re not acting, they’re reacting, and they have every right—and responsibility, not only to know exactly what is being taught and how, but to determine what will be taught and how.
Everyone working in public education is an employee of the public, not the public’s masters. Obviously, we can’t have every parent making conflicting, perhaps even unhinged, demands on a daily basis. We hire college-educated teachers because we believe they know what they’re doing, and we trust them to do the right thing. We trust them not only to effectively teach their subject matter, but to teach kids to be honest, decent Americans.
We are, I’m sad to say, at the point where it would not be unreasonable to demand cameras in every classroom. We have the technology, and it would likely not be prohibitively expensive, particularly if the millions wasted on racist and anti-American materials and “experts” were instead used for the hardware and software necessary to add cameras and microphones. There must, however, be certain caveats.
The cameras should be active only during teaching time. Every teacher has a lunch break and a planning period. It would have added nothing to public information for parents to be able to watch me hastily scarf down a sandwich while grading papers or typing assignments or lesson plans during my 30 minutes of lunch. Nor would it have been edifying for them to watch me typing, doing one of a hundred different chores, or watching my empty classroom while I was making copies or doing other errands during my planning period. The same would apply to before and after school.
Some are suggesting cameras would also have a similar effect to body cameras worn by police officers: they’d show the truth. This is true, but only to the extent people in a given place are willing to accept the truth.
There are surely places in America, mostly in red states, where the public would have no interest in conducting surveillance on teachers. That’s one of the joys of local control. Where schools continue to enjoy the trust of the public, because they’re actually, transparently, teaching rather than indoctrinating kids, there’s no point. But for parents stuck behind enemy lines in blue states, they have three options: (1) force transparency, (2) remove their kids from public schools, (3) perhaps best of all, move to a free state where kids are actually given the opportunity to learn from ethical professionals.