Joseph Klein, Frontpage Magazine, September 17, 2020
There is certainly nothing wrong with reviewing the current educational curricula of primary and secondary schools to ensure a comprehensive and accurate presentation of African American history. However, this should not mean turning the imperfect but continuing progress of America throughout its history to achieve its founding ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness into some sort of fictional dystopia. Yet anti-American critical race theory indoctrination of impressionable students is spreading from college campuses to elementary and secondary schools. Critical race theory posits that America’s institutions are rotten to the core because of their supposedly systemic racist foundations.
The Virginia Board of Education is meeting this week to discuss the recommendations set forth in a report commissioned by Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam of blackface fame. The report recommends revamping Virginia’s school curriculum, all the way down to elementary school, to incorporate a narrative of white oppression of African Americans as well as of American Indians. It is entitled “Final Report of the Virginia Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth.”
The Commission used as one of its resources the avowedly anti-white book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism written by Robin DiAngelo, who believes that racism is “embedded in the foundation of U.S. society.” She has attacked the “current structures of capitalism and domination” and what she has called “unearned white privilege.”
Another resource the Virginia Commission used was How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi believes that “Capitalism is essentially racist” and “racism is essentially capitalist.” He has proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to “fix the original sin of racism.” It “would make unconstitutional racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials (with ‘racist ideas’ and ‘public official’ clearly defined).” It would also “establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism.”
Yet another resource used by the Virginia commission was Glenn Singleton’s Courageous Conversation About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools. Singleton is a strong advocate of critical race theory who wants his Pacific Educational Group’s program of instruction to raise classroom teachers’ awareness of the “ubiquity of white privilege and racism.”
In addition, the Virginia Commission on African American History Education named DiAngelo, Kendi and Singleton as three of its “scholars and partners for collaboration.”
The Commission also partnered with the historically challenged 1619 Project, which views slavery as the animating force behind all of America’s history up to the present day. As the editor of the New York Times Magazine, Jake Silverstein, explained, “The goal of The 1619 Project is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year. Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.”
With inputs from these sorts of social justice warriors who believe the United States is an inherently racist country, the Commission Report, in Bacon’s Rebellion writer James Sherlock’s words, is “critical race theory brought to life.”
The Commission Report’s executive summary claims that Virginia’s standards for content in Virginia schools are “tainted with a master narrative that marginalized or erased the presence of non-Europeans from the American landscape.”
In the section of the Commission Report describing its vision, the authors wrote: “The Commission embraced culturally responsive pedagogy because it recognizes the importance of students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning and does not just reinforce the values of the dominant culture.”
The Commission Report views American history primarily through the lens of “systemic racism,” which it implicitly links with “imperialism,” “colonialism,” and the “economic motivation” behind capitalism.
The Commission Report recommends that African American history be taught in all classrooms 180 days a year – identity politics at its finest. Starting in Grade One, the Commission Report urges adding only Juneteenth to the existing list of three officially recognized holidays – Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, and Independence Day.
The only other minority group’s history that the Commission Report recommends be revised involves “indigenous” native Americans. Starting in Grade One, for example, the Commission wants the reference to Pocahontas in the current curriculum omitted. Instead, the Commission recommends that first grade students learn “how the relationship between diseases and weapons of the English settlers impacted the Virginia Indians.”
The Commission Report recommendations for changes to Virginia school course content in the higher grades get progressively worse.
For a course entitled “United States History to 1865,” the Commission Report recommends adding the following to the section on the Constitutional Convention: “The Three-fifths Compromise perpetuated slavery in the United States.” The report fails to balance this statement with one pointing out that the Constitution set a deadline for ending the importation of new slaves into the United States.
The authors of the Commission Report want to portray the founding fathers as bad white men using the Constitution to perpetuate slavery and little else. The truth is that without a compromise there would have been no United States in the first place and the South could have formed its own independent country with slavery remaining intact far longer than it did. The founding fathers were able to incorporate in the Constitution the deadline for ending slave trade into the United States. They also included an amendment process that would prove crucial over time in abolishing slavery and enacting other critical protections for African Americans and other minority groups.
Some of the Commission Report edits give the impression that slavery was a Western European/American invention rather than acknowledging that slavery had already existed legally within Africa itself for many years prior to its introduction to the Virginia colonies. Some Africans treated other Africans as their property for use in enslaved labor or as chattel for sale. Many of the Africans who were transported to the Americas were originally enslaved by Africans in Africa. It is misleading for the Commission Report to claim that for nearly two thousand years enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to the American colonies via the Middle Passage, or to leave out the enslaved condition of some Africans in Africa before they were brought to America.
The Commission Report recommends adding to a course entitled “United States History: 1865 to the Present” a project that would involve creating “a timeline that illustrates the role of Jim Crow (segregation) laws in the 20th century and how those laws restricted the rights, economic decision-making, and choices of African Americans.” OK, but shouldn’t such a timeline also include the dates that Jim Crow laws were eliminated by court orders and by federal civil rights legislation guaranteeing the right to vote and non-discrimination in housing, public accommodations and employment?
The Commission also recommends revising Virginia’s Teacher Evaluation Regulations and Virginia’s Uniform Performance standards for School Leaders “to include cultural proficiency efficacy.” One can only imagine the critical race theory brainwashing that will be included in the Cultural Competency Professional Development and African American history programs that Virginia educators will be required to enroll in if the Commission gets its way.
Virginia is far from alone in embracing historical revisionism to placate the social justice crowd. The 1619 Project is infiltrating our schools despite its significant historical errors noted by real historians. According to an article published by the Education Next Institute, “Schools or school districts in Chicago; Newark, N.J.; Buffalo, N.Y., and Washington, D.C. all announced 1619 Project-related events.” The Pulitzer Center is promoting its Reading Guide to the 1619 Project for all grades around the country. It includes a lesson plan entitled Exploring “The Idea of America” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, the principal New York Times staffer behind the 1619 Project. The lesson plan poses such loaded questions as “What examples of hypocrisy in the founding of the U.S. does Hannah-Jones supply? What evidence can you see for how ‘some might argue that this nation was founded not as a democracy but as a slavocracy’?”
We are also seeing critical race theory seeping into religious school curriculums. For example, a Minnesota reform synagogue’s religious school program for grades 3-5 recommends that the children read and be prepared to discuss a book entitled One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia in order to “explore the topic of Racism in America through an age-appropriate novel.”
Far from promoting racial harmony, this book idealizes the violent Black Panther Party of the 1960’s and glorifies a mother who abandoned her children to work for the cause of black power. Not surprisingly, the New York Times gave One Crazy Summer a good review.
The book is about three young sisters in the 1960’s who head out to Oakland to stay with their runaway mother after four years. The mother decided to send the girls to a nearby Black Panther Party summer camp. The book conveniently leaves out the truth about the 1960’s version of the Black Panthers – a black Maoist revolutionary group whose members killed and wounded a number of police officers and committed other crimes. Instead, the novel uses the group’s name but turns its members at the camp into a fictional bunch of caring, lovable individuals. For good measure, the girls’ mother, who has no interest in taking care of her kids, is arrested by the police for writing poems about black power. Children are taught at an early age – in a religious school no less – that police are racist villains.
Any teacher who uses anti-American leftist propaganda of the kind described in this article in his or her classroom is guilty of educator malpractice.