Commentary: Critical Race Enthusiasts Should Learn the Lesson of ‘Defund the Police’

Crowd of people in the streets, protesting and Black Lives Matter movement

A year ago, “defund the police” activists were having quite a time. Outlets like CNN and Vox were publishing fawning profiles. Social media sensations like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar were leading the parade. Cities like Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Austin even approved partial defundings. It was a juggernaut.

Now? A tough-on-crime former cop just won the Democratic mayoral nomination in Bill de Blasio’s New York. Former President Barack Obama is warning fellow Democrats, “You lost a big audience the minute you say [‘defund the police’].” Sen. Bernie Sanders has rejected calls for “no more policing.” And White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, a few weeks ago, bizarrely claimed that it was not Democrats but Republicans who wanted to defund the police (because they opposed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill).

What happened? Intoxicated by a few policy wins in deep blue cities, enthusiasm in the left-leaning Twitter echo chamber, and their viselike grip on the national media, “defund” activists overlooked one important detail: Their agenda was deeply unpopular with most Americans. A summer 2020 YouGov poll found that just 16 percent of adults wanted to cut police funding — much less “defund” the police. Indeed, 81 percent of black Americans wanted police to spend as much or more time in their communities. During a year when major American cities saw an unnerving increase in homicides, after years of declines, that reaction was not just understandable, it was wholly predictable.  

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Education Department Civil Rights Nominee Rejects Presumption of Innocence for Accused Students

Catherine Lhamon

The Biden administration’s nominee to lead the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights told a Senate committee Tuesday that a year-old Title IX regulation does not require the presumption of innocence for students accused of sexual misconduct.

The claim drew bafflement from critics of Catherine Lhamon, who held the same job in the Obama administration’s second term.

In response to threats from Lhamon to pull their federal funding, colleges lowered evidentiary standards and enacted policies that treat accusers more favorably than accused students. Courts have been steadily reining in those practices, sometimes citing the pressure from Lhamon’s office as evidence of bias.

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White House Backs Teachers Unions, Critical Race Theory Curricula

Jen Psaki

The Biden administration signaled its support for the teaching of “anti-racism” curriculum in public schools Friday, wading into an ongoing culture war over critical race theory playing out on cable news and in school board meetings across the nation.

Asked about a recent decision by the National Education Association to throw its weight behind controversial progressive teachings about race, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told RealClearPolitics that President Biden believes “kids should learn about our history” including the view that “there is systemic racism that is still impacting society today.”

Psaki continued that the president and the First Lady, who is also a life-long educator, believe that “there are many dark moments, and there is not just slavery and racism in our history.”

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Commentary: Leading the Charge Against Critical Race Theory

Young boy reading a book

Critical Race Theory continues to permeate our classrooms and infect our children’s minds with outrageous ideas about their nation’s history. But a growing number of Americans are standing up to fight back against its false tenets and demand its removal from K-12 education. At the forefront of this patriotic effort is 1776 Action, an advocacy group committed to the vital work of restoring honest and unifying education in public schools throughout the nation.

The group’s Candidate Pledge has garnered national attention in recent weeks for its emphasis on America’s values and its vow to eradicate divisive race- and gender-based ideologies such as CRT from America’s schools. Political candidates who sign the pledge commit to restoring “honest, patriotic education that cultivates in our children a profound love for our country” and to promoting a curriculum that “teaches that all children are created equal, have equal moral value under God, our Constitution, and the law, and are members of a national community united by our founding principles.” The pledge also seeks to prohibit any curriculum that divides students by race and sex – or sets out to infuse harmful ideologies into course material.

In May, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) became the first candidate to sign the pledge, declaring that CRT and similarly divisive theories are “shameful [and] must be stopped.” Other high-profile conservatives running for office, such as Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin, also vowed to replace CRT with “a high-quality civics curriculum.” The two Republican candidates for Governor of Kansas, former Gov. Dr. Jeff Colyer and Kansas Atty. Gen. Derek Schmidt, have also signed the pledge. As more candidates sign this pledge, it will put pressure on teachers, principals, and school boards to declare their stances on CRT and other key educational matters. It will also hold them accountable for the materials they teach and ensure our children are not indoctrinated with malicious theories that seek to denigrate our country and reduce students to their sex or skin color.

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Utah House Passes Bill to Ban Critical Race Theory in Public Schools

Students in class, listening to the teacher at the front of the room

Utah is one of many states in America considering banning critical race theory in public schools.

Republican State Representative Steve Christiansen sponsored a bill that takes direct aim at critical race theory concepts being taught in public education. The bill passed the Utah House and is awaiting the signature of the Speaker to move onto the state Senate.

That bill, HR901, calls on the Utah Board of Education for a re-evaluation of guidelines to weed out critical race theory in publicly funded classrooms.

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Mom Says School Board Threatened to Sue Her for Seeking Public Information on Critical Race Theory in Curriculum

Nicole Solas was surprised to find her name listed on the meeting agenda of her local school board, especially since it said the board was considering taking legal action against her in response to her many requests for public records.

The Rhode Island mother of two began filing records requests with the South Kingstown School District several months ago, when she learned that teachers were incorporating critical race theory and gender ideology in the curriculum.

But she didn’t expect the school board to talk about suing her.

“I was shocked,” Solas, 37, told The Daily Signal in a recent phone interview. The school board, she said, “did not tell me that [the requests were] a problem.”

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Commentary: Four Signs Parents Won’t Be Sending Their Kids Back to Public School This Fall

Student working on school work at home.

As disruptive as the 2020/2021 academic year was, it led to many positive educational changes that will be transformative and long-lasting. Most notably, parents have been re-empowered to take back the reins of their children’s education from government bureaucrats and teachers unions. Frustrated by school closures and district “Zoom schooling,” families fled public schools in droves over the past year, and there are several signs that these families won’t be returning this fall.

According to an analysis by Chalkbeat and the Associated Press, public school enrollment fell by an average of 2.6 percent across 41 states last fall, with states such as Michigan, Maine, Vermont, and Mississippi dropping by more than 4 percent. These enrollment declines far exceeded any anticipated demographic changes that might typically alter public school enrollment.

How many of these students will be back in a public school classroom next year? Not as many as public school officials hoped.

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Commentary: Reorienting the Purpose and Practice of Academic Assessment

Person filling in exam answers

Our K-12 schools are organized more like a swim meet than a swim lesson. The emphasis is on student placement results rather than on ensuring all students learn. Students move on to the next lesson, concept, or skill regardless of whether mastery was achieved at the previous level.

Donald P. Nielsen explains this analogy in Every School: One Citizen’s Guide to Transforming Education:

In a swimming meet, the purpose is to determine who is the fastest swimmer. In public schools we spend a lot of time grading students on what they have learned and then ranking them, rather than ensuring that every child has learned. What we need, however, is a public school system that is organized like a swimming lesson. In a swimming lesson, the instructor’s goal is different. The goal is to make sure all students, even the slowest, learn how to swim. Swimming meets can be a result of swimming lessons, and grading can be a result of learning, but ranking students by ability should not be the primary goal of teachers or of the system as a whole.

In swimming, as in any other athletic or artistic endeavor, classes are grouped based upon the current achievement level of the students, not based on age. A swimming coach would never consider putting advanced swimmers and beginning swimmers in the same class, even if they were of the same age. Similarly, a music teacher would not put an advanced piano player in a class with beginners…. Age is not a relevant factor in either swimming or piano lessons, but it is the overriding factor in our schools. No other major learning activity is strictly age-based. Our schools shouldn’t be either.

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New Movement Teaches American Kids How to Think, Not What to Think

Girl student standing and holding books in hand in a classroom

An American educator is persuading schools to implement viewpoint diversity in the classroom.

Erin McLaughlin is a teacher from Pennsylvania who is making headlines with her approach to classroom instruction. She argues that viewpoint diversity, which is teaching students how to think rather than what to think, should be at the center of many curriculums.

McLaughlin, in an interview with The College Fix, said that it is the job of educators to teach children how to process things as opposed to what to advocate for.

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Michigan State University Student Governor Calls on Administration to Hire Employee Dedicated to Illegal Immigrant Students

Michigan State University

At Michigan State University (MSU), a student government bill aims to pressure university administration to hire an “undocumented student affairs” position.

Passed on March 4, Bill 57-78 calls on the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) to “Advocate for the Hiring of a Full-Time Employee for Undocumented Student Affairs.”

“This employee shall have a designated area in order to create a safe space for undocumented students to seek support,” states the bill.

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California Mothers Sue California Gov. Newsom, Saying His Partial Reopening of Schools Hurts Special Needs Students, Causes Anxiety Over Grades

Four mothers have filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom over his coronavirus education plan, claiming adverse effects including anxiety over poor grades and lack of special education access.

The lawsuit was filed Sept. 10 in Shasta County Superior Court by the Freedom Foundation on behalf of the northern California families. The complaint is available here.

The plaintiffs allege the plan that requires students to be in classes part-time denies them their constitutional right to a quality education as enshrined in the California Constitution.

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Michigan Becomes First State to Offer Emergency Food Assistance for Students Through EBT

Michigan has become the first state to gain federal approval for a program that helps families feed students who were previously relying on schools for meals.

Through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program, food assistance benefits will be given to students ages 5 to 18 who would normally be eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

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