Racial tribalism doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum to dominate education.
Fighting CRT in the Classroom
Further steps to take in getting politics out of our schools
Parents expect to protect their children from scraped knees, hurt feelings, and even broken hearts. But no one expects to have to protect their children from their own schools. Yet in 2021, we find ourselves engaged in a pitched culture war to save our nation’s K-12 schools from curricula that teaches them to prioritize skin color, to distrust other racial groups, and that biological sex is a fiction that can be changed anytime.
With education topping voters’ concerns in the recent 2021 Virginia off-year election, the Biden administration teamed up with BigEd and attempted to silence parents by threatening to label them as “domestic terrorists” for demanding accountability from their local school boards. It didn’t work. A generation of parents awoke to see clearly what their school boards are up to and defend their children. Now the Mama and Papa Bears are exposing every potentially illegal or unconstitutional classroom lesson they find and taking back their school boards.
Lifting the veil on noxious curricula is the first step to winning the battle for our kids and their future. We must expose what is taught and how school districts make their decisions. In our last piece, we detailed successful litigation strategies for battling woke education using the Constitution and Civil Rights Acts. In this piece, we describe lesser-known strategies that can be equally as effective.
Hatch Act: Hatch Act laws restrict the political activities of government employees on work time. Violations can be punished by loss of position or even as crimes. Public employees receive relentless training about steering clear of the Hatch Act. If you’ve never heard of the Hatch Act, it’s because you don’t work for the government.
The Hatch Act generally prohibits government employees from engaging in political activity while on the job. The original Hatch Act was a federal law, but many states have their own versions. At bottom, the rule is simple: if you are a government employee, you should not be engaged in politics on taxpayer time.
Schools are government agencies staffed by public employees. They should be as politically neutral as any public workplace. But you may have noticed that schools have mission statements, posters, and flags that look less like instructional material and more like propaganda meant to indoctrinate and mobilize. In any other governmental building, they would stand out as glaring examples of inappropriate politics.
Many public-school employees are open in their advocacy for political parties, causes, and even candidates. In Springfield, Missouri, teachers were told to support socialist candidates and causes as part of mandatory teacher training. Teachers have advocated for students to pledge allegiance to Pride flags. An Oregon school board is requiring every classroom to display a BLM flag. Some schools have an entire week devoted to honoring the Black Lives Matter organization.
BLM is a political and advocacy organization. The Democratic National Committee posts BLM resources. There is even a BLM Super PAC. No governmental workplace, schools especially, should be promoting politics on the public’s dime. If a school sponsored a “GOP week,” it would run straight into the Hatch Act. If teachers were told to support the NRA as part of their mandatory training, it would be called out. It is completely inappropriate for any politics to be happening on government time.
Do you suspect a Hatch Act violation? Get your facts together. Find out more about how the law works where you live. Ask: Who does the law apply to? How do you report a violation? Who investigates it? It may be as simple as reporting it to your locally elected district attorney or asking the state attorney general to investigate.
Teacher ethics: Many states set ethical standards for their teachers. Those standards directly relate to a teacher’s ability to push a race-based curriculum or shut down open dialogue.
For example, teacher ethics in Tennessee prohibit teachers from suppressing or distorting relevant subject matter. They prohibit denying varying points of view to a student or exposing a student to embarrassment or disparagement. And they prohibit granting an advantage, or denying a benefit, to any student on the basis of race, sex, creed, or political or religious belief. The worst excesses of critical race theory clearly violate these standards.
Time and again, we have seen race-obsessed educators push a woke ideology that is designed to shut down debate and crush political and religious resistance. It’s not a surprise then that parents report, with alarming frequency, children coming home in emotional distress over their racial identity following school lessons or projects calling specific attention to students’ individual racial privilege It should hardly be controversial to call this out as unethical behavior in a teacher.
These ethical standards can also operate as a shield for any teacher horrified at what he or she has been asked to teach. Any teacher asked to violate their state’s ethics standards should flatly refuse. Any teacher that does so is a teacher we’d be interested in talking to.
These standards, incidentally, do not reflect some recent “CRT ban” or a denial of American history. Personalizing troubling subject matter by targeting individual students on the basis of race or national origin has never been appropriate in the classroom. Prohibiting this kind of pedagogy is not the least bit controversial.
More on transparency: Government transparency laws (public records, open meetings) typically apply to exclusively public entities. However, many states’ public transparency laws are so broadly interpreted that they apply to private entities that have a public purpose.
In state after state, private entities have been enlisted by the public education bureaucracy to help educate your children. School board members, for example, receive training. In many states, school board associations, non-governmental, not-for-profit groups, have exclusive responsibilities in the training of school board members. The state may even directly pay the association using tax dollars.These associations are the state versions of the now-infamous National School Boards Association, which colluded with the Biden administration to investigate parents as domestic terrorists. Freedom of Information laws have yielded significant returns in showing the role that public employees played in perpetuating this outrage. A bit more transparency is in order given that we already know that BigEd non-profits were the animating force.
Get to know your state school boards association as well as your own state’s transparency laws. Find out if your school boards are required to be trained by your state’s school board association. Find out how much public funding they receive by looking up their IRS Form 990s. You just might open these groups up to public transparency laws, if they are not already.
School boards associations are just one private group embedded in public education. What about the groups that develop curricula, or conduct audits and surveys of your children? Does your school have an exclusive contract with Google or some other Big Tech company that it requires all parents use? Those companies may not be as walled off as they think. Let some sunshine in. It is the best disinfectant.
The public is waking up to the reality that the educational class is not made up of neutral public servants. They are supposed to work for us in the nurturing of our children but may in fact operate more like political operatives. It is time to hold our teachers to the same standards as a clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles. They work for us even if they don’t act like it. Let’s teach them exactly who works for whom.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.