Critical Race Theory Is Waking The Lions

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

It is often mothers who become the champions of children and the animus of a movement to support them. Once awakened, their power can meaningfully move the needle on what seem to be politically immovable issues.

In March, UncoverDC featured parents in Beachwood City, Ohio, and in California who stood up to their respective school boards because of, in their opinions, the deleterious effects of already adopted CRT curricula in their schools. Critical Race Theory (CRT), and its legal ramifications, is a progressive education policy that is gaining nationwide traction because of its creeping adoption and the Biden administration's federal push to implement it.

On April 19, the Department of Education entered into the federal register a document that removed all doubt about where the Biden administration stands on the topic of installing the CRT curriculum in K-12 schools across the country. Priority Number 1 quotes the 1619 Project as reported by the New York Times and reads as captured from the document below:

Department of Education Priority Number 1/Federal Register

Additionally, in early March, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), alongside U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), introduced the Civics Secures Democracy Act. Stanley Kurtz of the National Review reported that this proposed legislation is "dangerous" and will unleash the culture war on K-12 education policy. Kurtz writes:

"Because this new legislation is a backdoor effort to impose a de facto national curriculum in the politically charged subject areas of history and civics, the battle will rage in the states, at the federal level, and between the states and the federal government as well. The Biden administration’s Education Department will almost certainly collaborate in this attempt to develop a set of national incentives, measures, and penalties that effectively force Critical Race Theory and Action Civics onto states and localities. The likelihood of education controversies moving from third-tier to first-tier issues in federal elections has never been greater."

Scholarly Work That Criticizes CRT

Attorney Jeffrey J. Pyle wrote an enlightening paper for the Boston College Law Review in 1999. He argues that the "by any means necessary" ethos of those adhering to the principles of the CRT movement actually harms the very goals of their movement. They "share the liberals' goal of racial and social justice," but the "race-crits, as they call themselves," also "attack the very foundations of the liberal legal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law. These liberal values, they allege, have no enduring basis in principle, but are mere social constructs calculated to legitimate white supremacy. The rule of law, according to critical race theorists, is a false promise of principled government, and they have lost patience with false promises.' For them, the practice of law is just another front in the fight to achieve racial "liberation."

As a result, they end up impeding the very advances they seek to achieve because of their almost wholesale rejection of our judicial system. Pyle says that while they exhibit "undeniable energy," they are "remarkably unhelpful as legal and political advocates within the liberal system. Their wholesale rejection of the rule of law limits their persuasiveness as legal advocates, while their dismissal of America's guiding principles makes them politically ineffective. In the process, the race crits racialist, blame-game rhetoric does much to alienate potentially helpful whites."

Critical Race Theory in Practice

Clare Lopez discusses below her analysis of the historical context and implementation of CRT in the schools. Lopez is a well-known strategic policy and intelligence expert whose focus in recent appearances has been the growth of Marxist ideas in our government and even our private institutions.  Lopez was featured on the Frank and Beanz "Dark to Light" Podcast on Mar. 19:

Some parents are questioning the suitability of CRT as a framework for teaching children about race relations in this country. And those questioning are not just in majority conservative cities.

On April 16, a virally posted letter written by Andrew Gutmann appeared on Bari Weiss' Common Sense substack page. Gutmann removed his daughter from the Brearley School on the Upper East Side in Progressively Liberal Manhattan because CRT concepts come to dominate the ethos and curriculum of the school. Gutmann wrote— "..we no longer have confidence that our daughter will receive the quality of education necessary to further her development into a critically-thinking, responsible, enlightened, and civic-minded adult...It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop..." His daughter had attended the school for seven years since kindergarten.

Paul Rossi, a teacher at the Grace Church School in Manhattan, also lamented that, because of CRT, teachers are "required to treat students differently on the basis of race." His letter was also posted on Weiss' page. These parents and teachers advocate for debate and critical thinking but do not want the curriculum to dictate a particular or narrowed perspective that pushes a political agenda. They say it is divisive and often anxiety-producing—especially for younger elementary-aged children.

It is well known that many universities have adopted progressive curricula like CRT. According to the Harvard Bridge program, a professional development program with coursework for employees at Harvard, the Critical Race Theory curriculum states that;

"Critical race theories combine progressive political struggles for racial justice with critiques of the conventional legal and scholarly norms which are themselves viewed as part of the illegitimate hierarchies that need to be changed. Scholars, most of whom are themselves persons of color, challenge the ways that race and racial power are constructed by law and culture. One key focus of critical race theorists is a regime of white supremacy, and privilege maintained despite the rule of law and the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws. Agreeing with critical theorists and many feminists that law itself is not a neutral tool but instead part of the problem, critical race scholars identify inadequacies of conventional civil rights litigation..."

Max Eden of the City Journal recently wrote an article called "Taking Off the Mask." He explains the euphemistic and sometimes deceptive vocabulary embedded in the CRT curriculum. He highlights the term "culturally responsive" as a favorite but misleading term. Eden explains;

“Culturally responsive” is one of CRT’s favorite terms. For many, it might sound like the melting-pot pedagogy that centrists have long held dear: finding elements in students’ diverse backgrounds that could be used as hooks to bring them closer to the spirit of E Pluribus Unum. But the creators of “culturally responsive” education actually mean the opposite."

According to Eden, New York University professor David Kirkland, featured in the EdTalk below, is the "key architect of New York State’s culturally responsive framework." He also the author of “Culturally Responsive Education: A Primer for Policy and Practice.” Kirkland openly advocates for pushing social justice concepts like "white supremacy."

Moms as Activists

Moms for Liberty is an activist organization founded by two mothers and former school board members, Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, who have a "desire to stand up for parents at all levels of government." Their motto: "Moms on a Mission to Stoke the Fires of Liberty." A key part of their mission is to educate parents to understand the founding documents of the Republic. Their "Madison Meetups" are like a "book club for the Constitution."

UncoverDC recently spoke with Robin Steenman, who recently started the Williamson County chapter of Moms for Liberty. Her Facebook Page went live on April 20 and is home to letters, news, comments, and action items with respect to the "Stop CRT" movement in Williamson County. Its membership has grown exponentially, almost overnight.

The animating spirit behind the Williamson County chapter is the proposed adoption of a curriculum that the parents of the largely conservative county say is basically a Critical Race Theory curriculum, even though it is not named as such. Two years ago, the Tennessee Star reported that teachers and staff were being shown "white privilege videos" as a part of their "Cultural Competency" continuing education coursework. Many parents in the district view the proposed curriculum as a "Trojan Horse."

The moms are fighting the Williamson County School Board and the Superintendent of schools there, Jason Golden, who hired a consulting organization called Fostering Healthy Solutions (FHS), run by a mother and son duo, Anita and Shan Foster, who was paid $55k to review the Williamson County Schools (WCS) curriculum and then make recommendations. The review should be completed by July, according to Steenman. Steenman believes that information on FHS is scant, at best, and the information she and her group can find is not politically neutral. 

Lori Fredhim, who is partnering with Steenman to motivate parents to advocate for their families, created a website that actively posts content to educate parents in the county, providing the evidence they need to preemptively fight the progressive curriculum. The website features published highlights of the live stream conversation between FSH and the Williamson County School Board.

FSH espouses concepts of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion—terms commonly used in social justice circles. According to the members of Moms for Liberty, the terms used in the live stream portend the adoption of a CRT curriculum.

Livestream/Fostering Healthy Schools/WCS Moms for Liberty Site

Fredhim explains that the Williamson County Schools do not have a "racism problem, they have a bullying problem." She quotes data that says, of the harassment cases documented  in the Williamson County Schools last year, "out of 159 cases of harassment, 24 were racism-related." She continues,

"There are 40,000 students in WCS. There are 177 instructional days. If you do the math, that means there are just over 7 million student days for incident opportunities. WCS is at an average of 18 incidents per year, which is 0.00026 percent. Congratulations WCS. You don’t have a macro-racism issue. You have isolated incidents." (2/23 TN Star)

Superintendent Golden responded on Apr. 23 with his "Friday Note" email to parents linking the district's plans and intentions regarding the review. He pushed back on the portrayal of their process as one that pointedly plans to install CRT in the K-12 curriculum. The paragraph addressing CRT curriculum concerns is captured below:

CRT Statement/Golden April 23 Email

The FAQs on the question of the district's exploration of a CRT curriculum are pictured below and can be found at this link here.

Does WCS plan to implement CRT?/Golden

Does WCS plan to implement CRT?/Golden

Steenman wonders why the schools didn't adopt what she and the other activist parents see as a more unifying approach; espoused by conservative pundit and local personality, Dr. Carol Swain. The mission on her site, Unity Training Solutions, states a desire:

"To bring greater harmony to workplaces and educational institutions by respecting everyone’s civil rights and equality under the law. To encourage Americans to rediscover and re-embrace our national motto: E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one)."

Meetings Organized

On Monday, Williamson County Moms for Liberty met to plan for a Williamson County GOP monthly mixer with the Superintendent, Jason Golden, and school board member Jay Galbreath. The Moms for Liberty plan: to show up en masse as a show of force against the county's potential adoption of CRT curriculum.

Moms For Liberty Flier/Williamson County Meeting

Unfortunately, at the last minute, Golden canceled. The WCS Communications Director, Carol Birdsong, sent the following email just hours before the event. Needless to say, the parents were unhappy with the sudden cancellation:

Email from Carol Birdsong

Williamson County-based Tennessee Stands spokesperson, Gary Humble, disagreed with the mixer meeting in the first place. His April 20 YouTube Video explains his position and the situation in full.

“You just don’t deal with the enemy. And I think Jason Golden is an enemy to this county. I think his policies are evil and godless. I think what has been done to students and families in this county is evil and godless. Regardless of whoever else was doing it, it should not have been done in Williamson County. Students have been damaged. Their learning has been damaged. They’re continually being emotionally abused by this non-stop masking nonsense. Quarantining and everything in between, parents have been raising their voices for well over a year now and now leading into Critical Race Theory entering our schools,” Humble said.

“And while there is a statement being made that CRT is not coming to Williamson County—well—diversity and equity and inclusion training is coming to Williamson County. No one said that that’s not coming to Williamson County. We still hired this consulting group to do diversity, equity, and inclusion training. Well, guess what diversity, equity, and inclusion training are? Critical race theory.”

Despite the no-show by Golden, many parents showed up on Wednesday. It was reportedly a lively meeting "with two school board members that happened organically, and the parents beat on CRT relentlessly," according to Steenman. The Tennessee Star reported on the meeting early Thursday.

UncoverDC spoke with a parent who attended the mixer, who wishes to go unnamed. He recounted stories told by two different parents of second graders. He said one mother was visibly upset as she told the board members that her second-grade child is so depressed that he is seeing a therapist. She said her son is now "ashamed to be an American." The mother attributes much of his sudden anxiety to what she sees as a divisive curriculum. Another parent told the board members that his mixed-race, Thai-American seven-year-old child now only wishes to acknowledge his Thai heritage. A letter from one of the parents is posted at the bottom of the WCS Moms for Liberty website on this page. The unnamed parent also mentioned that the "very progressive" Williamson Strong advocacy group is actively lobbying for the CRT curriculum in the schools.

According to Steenman, there is a scheduled county-wide all-call on April 27 hosted by the District 2 school board members to discuss the curriculum. She has invited the state-level politicians but doesn't know whether they will show. She thinks there could be fireworks at the meeting, given how many are feeling.

Broader Action

Concerned Citizens of Tennessee is a group that is now fighting the adoption of CRT in Tennessee schools. Their petition asks the Tennessee Assembly to "Stop Critical Race Theory in Tennessee."

Parent groups in other states are struggling with the prospect of the adoption of CRT in their schools. A parent in Chatham County, NC, contacted UncoverDC to report a similar review of the civics curriculum occurring in the school district there.

Parent Amy Kappelman, who is Vice President of the Elementary School Board there, told UncoverDC that Chatham County Schools hired The Carol Emmott Foundation's The Equity Collaborative to formulate an "action plan for our school district and do equity coaching and guidance for staff. They will assess our schools based on data and all stakeholders and then present their findings and create a plan." The budget allocated for this initiative is $67k "just for this in the next school year," Kappelman continued.

Carrol Emmott Foundation/The Equity Collaborative

The team supporting this initiative in the county is The Equity and Excellence for Everyone Team (E3). The equity and diversity resources can be found here. Their stated mission is as follows:

"The mission of the Chatham County Schools' E3 Team is to support students in reaching their potential by advocating for social justice, eliminating barriers for diverse populations, and utilizing culturally relevant resources while ensuring equity is embedded in all areas of our district’s culture."

As of this writing, parents in the county are actively growing in numbers to join the fight. Using the pandemic policy-related "Open-the-Schools" initiatives as a springboard for their activism, they are engaging on their Parents of Chatham County Schools webpage.

Kappelman also reported that parents are using the tools provided by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson's new Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students (F.A.C.T.S) task force. F.A.C.T.S seeks to address indoctrination in North Carolina schools, as reported by UncoverDC on Mar. 19.  It is a great way for parents to report concerns and interact with educational policy-making there.

Christopher Rufo, who has focused almost exclusively on the adoption of CRT in schools, wrote an informative piece on the adoption of CRT in the Wake County Public School System in North Carolina.

Notably, in September, President Trump signed an Executive Order combatting race and sex stereotyping, calling the principles associated with CRT a "malign ideology." His administration sought to discourage federal agencies and contractors from conducting training sessions based on Critical Race Theory.

Some States Moving to Ban CRT

Not all states are adopting CRT. UncoverDC wrote a piece about Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis who advocates for a different route by implementing civics initiatives that "foster civic literacy" and constructive debate by teaching children the foundations and history of our country. The curriculum refrains from the promotion of a particular political agenda.

Oklahoma is the first state whose Senate has "overwhelmingly approved legislation that would prevent schools from mandating coursework based on Marxist-derived critical race theory." According to Ray Carter, Director, Center for Independent Journalism, who wrote an article for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs website, Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, stated the following:

“The roots of everything we’re talking about are coming out of the curriculum of something known as critical race theory,” said Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant. “Now, the curriculum that we’re talking about is not specific to it, but the underpinnings of everything we’re talking about in that bill are in that theory. This is a theory that teaches that racism is inherent in skin color. It teaches a lie called intersectionality. It teaches about system racism, inherent racism and automatically assumes white supremacy in anyone who establishes themselves or is white themself. It is a poison to the minds of our kids.”

The bill prevents "state colleges from requiring students to take 'any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling' and states that any orientation or requirement that presents any form of race or sex-stereotyping or a bias on the basis of race or sex shall be prohibited." The bill also prevents K-12 schools from requiring or making part of a course any material that declares "one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex'" or that "an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

Sen. Rob Standridge released his statement on the bill on Thursday:

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