Ethan Barton, Fox News, July 21, 2021
The Biden administration’s guidance for school reopening promoted a radical activist group’s handbook that advocates for educators to “disrupt Whiteness and other forms of oppression.”
The Department of Education linked to the Abolitionist Teaching Network’s “Guide for Racial Justice & Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning” in its handbook intended to help schools reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic and recommend how they should spend billions of dollars they collectively received through the American Rescue Plan.
The Abolitionist Teaching Network’s website includes links to various materials and media that include language often associated with critical race theory, though the group avoids using the exact phrase.
“Abolitionist Teachers” should “[b]uild a school culture that engages in healing and advocacy. This requires a commitment to learning from students, families, and educators who disrupt Whiteness and other forms of oppression,” the group states in its guide.
Critical race theory advocates have argued that the doctrine is not being taught in public schools and that opponents’ complaints are overwrought. But a number of the Abolitionist Teaching Network’s board members and associated activists are current or former educators who push for race-related reform in public schools.
While the Abolitionist Teaching Network’s mission statement is vague, its rhetoric elsewhere indicates that it aims to overhaul schools to prioritize racial awareness.
In addition to finding educators committed to disrupting Whiteness, the guide states that teachers should remove “all punitive or disciplinary practices that spirit murder Black, Brown, and Indigenous children.”
The guide notes that social and emotional learning “can be a covert form of policing used to punish, criminalize, and control Black, Brown, and Indigenous children.” It also states that the standards for such learning are “are rooted in Eurocentric norms” and don’t “empower, love, affirm, or free” those children.
Social and emotional learning is essentially how people develop identities, emotional management and various social and interpersonal skills, according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.
The Abolitionist Teaching Network’s guide also lists abolitionist teachers’ “demands,” which include “[f]ree, antiracist therapy for White educators and support staff.” Additionally, it states that teaching and learning standards, as well as teacher evaluations, should be “grounded in the pursuit of Black, Brown, and Indigenous liberation, criticality, excellence, and joy.”
The network “is dedicated to not creating new schools or reimagining schools, but destroying schools that do nothing but harm Black and brown children,” co-founder Bettina Love said during a welcome webinar.
Love also noted that the network would “create a national database of antiracist school counselors, therapists and lawyers.” She said her group planned to pay its “activists in residence” to travel around the country and “go into schools or communities and do the work of dismantling.”
“If you don’t recognize that White supremacy is in everything we do, then we got a problem,” Love, who also chairs the board of directors, said. “I want us to be feared.”