In a recent post at Intellectual Takeout, Annie Holmquist cautions readers to question the motives of public school teachers entrusted with educating children. How to Recognize a Bad Teacher is an essential civic duty for all concerned Americans. Let me offer a view from California
As noted in California Ethnic Studies: Education or Agitation, the state’s education board is reviewing documentation for an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. Chapter 3: Instructional Guidance for K–12 Education contains the following statement
Ethnic studies educators democratize their classrooms by creating a learning environment where both students and teachers are equal active participants in co-constructing knowledge. This enables students to be recognized and valued as knowledge producers alongside their educators, while simultaneously placing an emphasis on the development of democratic values and collegiality.[page 7 of 43]
The phrase co-constructing knowledge has nothing to do with education. It indicates that teachers and students have license to create any curriculum that satisfies their emotional needs. The ethnic studies course will provide a lens for students to identify institutional/structural inequities, advocate for change at the local, state, national, or international level, and to engage in healthy debate and dialogue with their peers[page 8 of 43]
I can’t think of any responsible parent endorsing this type of classroom activity. A parent voiced similar concerns in an op-ed to the Wall Street Journal. In Activism Is for Adults, Rebecca Sugar, states: Policy is for adults. Even when we get it wrong, and we often do, the fallback isn’t children. We are teaching kids to speak empty words, to form opinions without rigorous research or deliberation, and worst, of all, to wrap themselves in a righteousness they haven’t earned.
California teachers will claim they are encouraging rigorous research or deliberation. I disagree. Until students have mastered the research and arguments of well-documented historical case studies, they can only formulate emotional defenses for any social and political views they “co-construct” in the classroom.
The fact that teachers want to hide on-line discussions from parents [Tennessee mom says parents asked to sign ‘ridiculous’ waiver they will not eavesdrop on kids’ online lessons] indicates they are communicating ideas and/or encouraging behavior that would undermine parental authority. The following passage is taken from the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview [pages 8 & 9 of 15]
The following values and principles are central to guiding ethnic studies teaching and learning:
1. cultivate empathy, community actualization, cultural perpetuity , self-worth, self-determination, and the holistic well-being of all participants, especially Native People/s and people of color;
2. celebrate and honor Native People/s of the land and communities of color by providing a space to share their stories of struggle and resistance, along with their intellectual and cultural wealth;
3. center and place high value on the pre-colonial, ancestral knowledge of Native people/s and people of color that is typically marginalized in society;
4. critique empire-building in history and its relationship to white supremacy, racism and other forms of power and oppression
5. challenge imperialist/colonial beliefs and practices on multiple levels
6. connect ourselves to past and contemporary resistance movements that struggle for social justice on the global and local levels to ensure a truer democracy; and
7. conceptualize, imagine, and build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance, critical hope, and radical healing.
In the footnote to bullet 4: As well as patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism.
By identifying patriarchy with white supremacy, racism, and other forms of oppression, the teacher clearly disparages the male head-of-household image. Children will question and dismiss the paternal love and authority of their father as insincere and motivated only by his desire to rule. This tactic by teachers clearly has one objective: destroy the traditional family.
Again, I encourage all Americans to actively oppose this agenda. Examine your state’s education department for curriculum guidelines and track all education legislation in your state’s General Assembly. Document your concerns, contact your state legislators and build your own activist network to provide coordinated communications.
As always, in the words of Edward R. Murrow, “Good night and good luck.”