To Critical Race Theory, or not to Critical Race Theory?

Like the uncollapsed quantum state holding Schrodinger’s cat in a state of simultaneous life and death, whether a school is “teaching critical race theory” or not seems to depend entirely on whether the inquiring person wants them to. Are you anti-CRT? Then, you may rest assured, American schools most certainly aren’t teaching CRT. (If you press a bit and ask why the district has cancelled all of the advanced math classes in the name of “equity,” you’ll be politely informed that this, “Isn’t CRT,” and, further, that you are, “Full of hate. So, so full of hate.”) On the other hand, if you are in favor of CRT, then you will be heartened to know that the schools definitely are teaching CRT.

The National Education Association (NEA) is, according to Wikipedia,

“the largest labor union and the largest white-collar representative in the United States.[2] It represents public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers at colleges and universities, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers. The NEA has just under 2.3 million members and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.[3] The NEA had a budget of more than $341 million for the 2012–2013 fiscal year.[4]

The NEA has been hard at work at their annual meeting this summer, passing (among doubtless many other important union matters), the alluringly-named New Business Item 39:

The NEA will, with guidance on implementation from the NEA president and chairs of the Ethnic Minority Affairs Caucuses:

A. Share and publicize, through existing channels, information already available on critical race theory (CRT) — what it is and what it is not; have a team of staffers for members who want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric; and share information with other NEA members as well as their community members.

B. Provide an already-created, in-depth, study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.

It goes on, but the grammar here is so atrocious that I had to pause to double-check what, exactly, the nation’s largest union of educators had written. This is a complicated sentence, given the nested nature of the resolution’s clauses, but we can simplify it by only looking at subjects, verbs, and parts that make no sense at all:

“The NEA will… share and publicize… Have a team… and share information… Provide (a study)… and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.”

Absolutely pathetic. I might just be a mom, but at least I have a grasp of basic grammar. These people are teachers.

I like the inclusion of anthropocentrism here. It’s good to remind children that when dogs are allowed to pee on random trees, but they aren’t, this is speciesism, and speciesism is evil. True equality will not have been achieved until children and dogs are treated equally.

But let’s go on:

C. Publicly (through existing media) convey its support for the accurate and honest teaching of social studies topics, including truthful and age-appropriate accountings of unpleasant aspects of American history, such as slavery, and the oppression and discrimination of Indigenous, Black, Brown, and other peoples of color, as well as the continued impact this history has on our current society.

You might have thought that the purpose of school was to equip children with the skills they’ll need in adulthood, but it’s actually to make children sad.

The Association will further convey that in teaching these topics, it is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory.

Ah, yes, academic frameworks. You see, whether you’re busy teaching kindergarteners their ABCs or trying to help the whopping 28% of 12th graders who still can’t even read at a basic level, it’s important to make sure you’re using college-level academic frameworks for the concepts you introduce to your students. Supposedly the people who wrote this, or at least who voted on it, are “real teachers” who have totally interacted with “real children” and understand the meaning of the phrase “age appropriate instruction,” and aren’t just trying to shoehorn their political beliefs into an utterly inappropriate context.

D. Join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to call for a rally this year on October 14—George Floyd’s birthday—as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression. Followed by one day of action that recognize and honor lives taken such as Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and others. [Sic]

Aside from being entirely inappropriate, this is grammatically pathetic.

USA’s economy/social order is built on interactions between different cultures/races.

“Don’t worry, Evie,” they said, “Cultural Marxism isn’t hiding under the bed, waiting to eat your fingers, because Cultural Marxism isn’t real.”

Oh, my sweet readers, Cultural Marxism is real, very real, and the only reason it isn’t hiding under your bed is because it’s busy reshaping Marxist arguments about the structure of society and the economy being determined by a nation’s economic system into an argument that they’re determined by the nation’s racial system.

To deny opportunities to teach truth about Black, Brown, and other marginalized races minimalizes the necessity for students to build efficacy.

I think this sentence is grammatical, it just sounds like schizophrenic word salad and actually says the opposite of what it is supposed to. To simplify/make it more understandable, “Denying opportunities… minimizes the need for students to become more effective.” Not needing to be more effective is a good thing: it means that students are already just as effective as they need to be.

I think they wanted to say, “Denying opportunities… minimizes the opportunities for students to become more effective.” Look over your work before you send it out, people. If necessary, get a friend to edit your work for you; they’ll probably catch mistakes you overlooked.

The ancient African proverb says, “Know Thyself.”

This is just thrown in randomly, at the end of the paragraph, with no context. A Turkish proverb says, “Those who want yogurt in winter must carry a cow in their pocket,” and an Arabic proverb says, “Someone who can’t dance says the ground is sloping.”

“Know thyself” is, incidentally, also a Greek aphorism; it was inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at the Oracle of Delphi:

“But I have no leisure for them at all; and the reason, my friend, is this: I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription has it, to know myself; so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things.”–Socrates, Phaedrus.

Of course, “know thyself” is short and straightforward enough that it is probably a bit of wisdom given in many cultures.

And finally, the money:

This item cannot be accomplished with current staff and resources under the proposed Modified 2021-2022 Strategic Plan and Budget. It would cost an additional $127,600.

Someone will be well-paid for this grift.

At least you may take some comfort, my reader, that the quantum state of CRT in the schools has collapsed: the teachers’ union has voted unambiguously in its favor.

4 thoughts on “To Critical Race Theory, or not to Critical Race Theory?

  1. Educators are basically legally required to accomplish CRT objectives like “eliminating racial differences in test scores and educational outcomes.” Unfortunately, simply ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. The old liberal position of “we don’t see race” didn’t make it go away, but critical race theory, for all its faults, does provide a fairly internally consistent explanation for why racial gaps persist and explains how to fix them.

    The only theory mainstream conservatives have offered up for why racial differences persist are things like “not enough dads around” (which teachers can’t do anything about,) and “lazy teachers aren’t teaching hard enough,” hence policies like NCLB and more-frequent standardized testing of school children. I can’t really blame teachers for rejecting the idea that they, personally, are the cause of black underperformance.

    Obviously teachers can see things like “which kids come to school without breakfast” or “which kids are being abused,” and schools even try to mitigate such things, But CRT will still appeal to liberal teachers who want an explanation for why these gaps persist.

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  2. Hi EvX, I hope the policy of “comment anywhere on any topic” is still at least somewhat valid.

    I feel that I recall an old post of yours narrating how you once had a foreign (Pakistani?) friend, and you started talking about what a terrible place America was to him, and then became angry when he didn’t respond by talking about what a terrible place Pakistan was.

    I remember phrasing similar to “of course he was aware of his home country’s many deficiencies. After all, he lived there!” (The idea being that for him, complaining about the failings of his country to a foreigner wasn’t something he wanted to do.)

    Is that something you wrote? If so, can you point me to the post? I haven’t been able to turn it up.

    Like

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