Parents all across the U.S. are showing up at school board meetings and forming advocacy groups to voice their concerns over changes in curricula and school policies that, in their opinion, adversely affect the education of their children. In some cases, the curriculum and policy changes are not made transparently, making it difficult for a parent to know what is being taught until it is too late. Critical race theory, gender studies, ethnic studies, and sex education are some of the “Woke” curriculum changes that are stimulating fierce advocacy.
On March 9, parents showed up at a school board meeting for Beachwood High School in a suburb east of Cleveland. Some parents are unhappy about the changes they are seeing in the curriculum, which focuses heavy-handedly on differences such as race and gender issues. The Beachwood City Schools states as its mission:
“To develop intellectual entrepreneurs with a social conscience, we believe that we must develop adults who are seekers of knowledge, creative, flexible, and reflective, in other words, with an intellectual capacity.
The opportunities available to our students outside of the traditional classroom distinguish the academic experience in Beachwood. Our students learn to be globally responsible, altruistic, and environmentally, culturally, and politically sensitive.”
The schools in the Cleveland suburb regularly partner with The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio through its School and Youth Programming, SHIFT Consulting, and LeadDIVERSITY “to eliminate bias, bigotry, and racism.”
Educational Equity is a featured tab on the header of the Beachwood High School website. The website highlights educational materials and resources for parents and students, including a YouTube School kit channel called the Look Deeper SchoolKit, featuring students questioning and discussing their intrinsic racism.
A local board meeting video spotlighting one parent (timestamp 7:40), Ms. Taylor, who spoke at the March 9 meeting, showed her compelling testimony about the evolutionary changes she has seen in the policies and curriculum in the public schools in Beachwood during her 20-plus years as a resident there.
Taylor raised successful, happy children in the district and is “perplexed” about the changes that teach children “to become bigots toward their peers, adults and law enforcement.” She noted that the schools in the state are now “teaching young children the “how-to” about changing their gender, child pornography and pedophilia, where to find those websites and what sex toys to purchase and how to use that which is purchased.” All the while, she says, parents are not being told their children are being taught those things. At the same time, “teachers and librarians are being exempted from criminal prosecution” and accountability for what they are teaching.
She continued, “Regarding the educational equity piece, it appears that the superintendent and the school board members grew up so white that you don’t even know the damage the decisions you made have caused previous, current, and future generations…instead, you convince yourselves that blacks are oppressed and that it is your job to stop the oppression.” If anything, she said, the policies have had the “opposite effect,” causing “black kids to turn against white people of all ages and white kids to hate their parents.”
Ms. Taylor observed that “none of this was broken before” and, in fact, she thinks their job is to ensure that students are “well-rounded and educationally successful.” She reported that the “stated goal in the critical race theory curriculum” is to make kids “activists in their own homes,” thus creating an “adversarial relationship between parent and child.”
Finally, she lamented that, because of national issues like the George Floyd murder, unnecessary and unrelated controversy has been inserted into the curriculum in Beachwood schools that have “nothing to do with Beachwood…and are none of your business.” Local issues should dictate school policies and curriculum changes, according to Taylor. Toward the end of her input, a Board member interrupted her telling her that he “takes extreme exception to almost everything that [she] said because her premise was wrong.” Notably, the board members present were all white.
A community leader named Jonathon Broadbent also told the board that the dialogue has “been severely one-sided” and is causing many teachers, students, staff, parents, grandparents, “people of all stripes and colors…fear and anger.” He said many feel financially and physically threatened if they do not follow the prescribed “doctrine.”
Ohio is not the only district seeing significant curriculum changes. Grace Church School, a private co-ed school in Manhattan, released its “Inclusive Language Guide” in September and encourages students to use words like “grown-ups, folks, family and guardians” instead of mom and dad when talking about their parents. The guide states that “we can do more than ban hateful language; we can use language to create welcoming and inclusive spaces. This guide addresses ways we can remove harmful assumptions from the way we interact with each other,” and says that “language is constantly evolving.” A statement from the headmaster, George P. Davison, said the spirit of the guide was “to give us all words to use that will bring people together.” Importantly, the guide does not ban any words.
An Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is currently being reviewed in the state of California. Some of the highlighted exercises in its curriculum are already practiced at Social Justice Humanitas Academy (SJHA). The section on Affirmations, Chants, and Energizers promotes a chant called the Unity Clap practiced during a school assembly. The translation for the Unity Clap is below:
“The Unity Clap itself has no words. It is all in the language of sound, which resonates with people across the planet; it comes to us from the United Farm Workers (UFW) movement, which built upon the labor of Pinoy organizers, including Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, and which the man our campus is named after, Cesar Chavez, was a co-founder of. The unity clap represents the united heartbeat of the people.”
Val Verde school district in Perris, California, has invited only black parents to contribute to curriculum ideas with regard to how the schools there can make their curricula more diverse. They plan to change their traditional history curriculum from teaching American history to teaching “hxrstory” through the lenses of “race, class, and gender.” Again, ethnic studies are a featured part of the curriculum in the schools there.
Woke education is not limited to the humanities. In February, Fox News reported that the Oregon Department of Education is now encouraging “teachers to take ‘ethnomathematics’ training to aid in ‘dismantling racism in mathematics.’”
The Instructional Guidance Section explains, “Ethnic studies teaching is grounded in the belief that education can be a tool for transformation, social, economic, and political change, and liberation.” The liberation to which the curriculum refers is based upon a book written by Brazilian educator Pablo Freire, who wrote the book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” Freire argues that “oppressed people can regain their humanity in the struggle for liberation, but only if that struggle is led by oppressed people. This introduces the central problem of the book: how to create an education system with oppressed people, for oppressed people, that will help them become more free.”
The curriculum is segmented into “Themes,” whose subjects are Culture, Barriers, Bias, and Activism. Of particular interest is the Theme on Activism—a unit that encourages students to promote social awareness and social activism.
Finally, parents in a Sacramento school district mobilized in 2019 to protest a sex education curriculum that “has gone too far,” when it requires teaching students grades 7 to 12 comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention and suggests teaching the same to elementary-age students. FAIR Education Act mandates that school textbooks be more inclusive of historically underrepresented communities, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Proponents of the program say that “children are not made safer by ignorance.”
One of the skills taught in the curriculum is “negotiation skills for sexual consent.” A California Assembly Bill AB329 mandates that children must be taught sexual consent negotiation skills once in junior high and once in high school, but possibly younger due to the imprecise language in the bill, according to Stephanie Yates shown about 14 minutes into the video below.
Yates, the Director of Informed Parents of California, an organization formed “to protect kids,” has been a strong advocate for children and parents. She views as questionable the new curriculum mandates throughout the state of California. The group’s Facebook page shows many instances of concerned parents all over the country advocating for their children.