A scorched-earth campaign by Woke “anti-racists” is laying waste to America’s education and future. Part II offers a sobering update on the rapid progress the Left has made, as well as some thoughts as to why this has happened.
Far-Left progressives are rapidly eliminating all disparate racial outcomes, regardless of merit. At an accelerating pace, they are eradicating the evidence (testing) and opportunities (difficult courses, course requirements and facts) for disparities, while ensuring outcomes for selected minority races through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
Part I of this article provided an overview of the evolution from President Kennedy’s first executive order mandating “affirmative action” in government contracts, through the radicalism of Critical Race Theory, The 1619 Project, and Kendi-ist anti-racism. Part II provides an abbreviated summary of the Left’s stunning success in remaking America’s education system over the last two years.
Michael Gerson coined the phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations” to explain the Left’s view that blacks could not succeed, and therefore needed standards lowered for them. What we are seeing now is a hard bigotry of no expectations, one that seeks to destroy our education system to ensure there are no disparities at all.
Until the mid-2010s, implementation of progressive race and education theory centered on racial preferences in university admissions and faculty recruitment. In the latter portion of the 2010s, the growth of “Woke” progressives re-created a McCarthy-like “cancel culture,” with the grave risk that speaking out could be a career-ending mistake.
During the last 18 months, supercharged by events after George Floyd’s death, the radical Left has expanded and strengthened DEI in universities, and following Karl Marx’s teaching to start with the youngest students, has shifted its focus to the abolition of testing and standards, the evisceration of math curricula, and indoctrination in our K-12 schools. The following is a necessarily abridged summary of recent developments:
• Except to some extent in nine states that have banned racial preferences in higher education admissions, nearly every elite and competitive university in America now has pledged allegiance to making its decisions about admissions and faculty recruitment based on DEI.
• Under pressure from progressive assertions of test bias, over the last few years, many colleges decided that SAT and ACT testing would be optional. Then, to settle a lawsuit alleging racist disparities, in May 2021, the UC system announced it is ceasing the use of ACT and SAT scores. Other colleges promptly followed the UC’s lead. Without scores, there can be no disparities.
• The National Association of Private Schools, the accreditation agency and marketing partner for nearly all private K-12 schools in the United States, now strongly encourages “race-based affinity groups.” Many National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) accreditors, meanwhile, insist on DEI, and NAIS requires each trustee to pledge obeisance to “equity and justice,” regular evaluations, and compliance reporting.
• In April 2020, citing “equity” and its goal to restructure and dismantle “systems and institutions that create the dichotomy of beneficiaries and the oppressed and marginalized,” the Oregon Department of Education eliminated grades and proficiency in reading, writing, and math as requirements for graduation.
• As National Association of Scholars Research Director David Randall recently reported, numerous states now require that K-12 curricula include elements of anti-racism, CRT, or social justice, or have created commissions to develop social justice curricula. At least two states, Delaware and Virginia, mandate a day off for students to participate in protests. There are no firm numbers on the number of school districts, schools, or teachers who are teaching these doctrines, but anecdotal evidence and coverage of school board hearings suggests that the number is not small. Just a few years ago, the number likely was close to nil.
• On September 9, 2020, Education Trust-West, an “advocate for educational justice,” announced its study and toolkit for K-12 math, A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In Pathway, Trust-West characterized expecting the right answer, independent practice, teaching in a linear fashion, requiring procedural fluency, and requesting that students show their work as white supremacy. Instead of offering a path for minority students to learn how to do math and come to the correct answer, Pathway instead advocates that schools use numbers to motivate anti-racist discussions of social justice. Pathways calls for regular reporting so that administrators can hold teachers accountable.
Pathway’s timing is particularly inapt, coming as the white-black and white-Latino gaps in math performance are narrowing. Though nearly 80% of black and Hispanic eighth graders are not proficient in math or reading, it is tautological that proficiency will not improve if teachers stop teaching correct answers. That there may be many answers, or no answers, to advanced theoretical mathematics is part of the wonder of the subject. Talking about theoretical math may energize students. Denying the earth is round, on the other hand, or that there are right and wrong answers to basic math, will not.
• On May 7, 2021, the Standards Committee of the American Bar Association, which is the accrediting agency for law schools in the United States, proposed that henceforth, law schools must take “inclusive and equitable . . . effective actions that lead to progress “ with respect to “(1) Diversifying the students, faculty, and staff; and (2) Creating an inclusive and equitable environment for students, faculty, and staff.” The ABA proposal observes that even if law schools are legally prohibited from complying, they may lose their accreditations unless they submit. The ABA will require regular evaluations and compliance reporting.
Though many (usually liberal) law professors from top law schools, including Yale, the University of Chicago, and Berkeley, have strongly criticized the ABA proposal, there is no evidence the ABA will relent.
To put the ABA proposal and American Medical Association rules described below into perspective, unqualified or underqualified high school students who may have been admitted to college because of racial preferences and likely perform poorly there, will be accepted in place of qualified candidates to law and medical school solely because of their complexions.
The ABA proposal also requires law firms that recruit from ABA-accredited law schools to comply with the same standards. If they do so, law firms either will provide over-priced, lower quality service to their clients, or associates from competitive silos and qualified associates from preferential silos will carry the burden. Likely, these capable associates will receive no additional remuneration for fear that pay disparities would be used as evidence in a discrimination lawsuit.
• Four days later, the American Medical Association published its Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity. Quoting generously from Woke academicians, the AMA’s remarkably dogmatic, left-wing plan proclaims “It is common that discussions in the field of equity begin with the recognition that our current state was built on the land and labors of others in ways that violated the fundamental principles of equity. Another distinction of the equity field, which essentially is an extension of this land and labor acknowledgment, is to initiate discussion with recognition of the specific harms of the past including those of the more recent past (termed ‘truth and reconciliation’).” The AMA thereby resolved a hotly contested assertion as “commonly accepted,” and ordered reparations as the remedy. The AMA also called for regular reports and accountability to the broad implementation of equity.
Among the AMA’s many idiotic conclusions is that the use of calculators and artificial intelligence is racist, and that “mandatory anti-racism, structural competence, and equity-explicit training and competencies” must be adopted in medical education, along with “publicly reported equity assessments.” The AMA also demands “just representation of Black, Indigenous and Latinx people in medical school admissions as well as medical school and hospital leadership ranks.” This raises a now-frequently posed question, one that literally gets to the heart of the matter: Do you want an affirmative action medical school graduate performing your open-heart surgery? Two related questions are also important. How is this fair to minority doctors who would succeed without preferences? How will you possibly know whose care you may safely rely upon?
• On the July 4th weekend, the National Educational Association, which represents more than 2.3 million K-12 teachers and nearly one million other school employees, passed a resolution that it is “reasonable and appropriate” to include CRT in K-12 curricula. The NEA announced that it would “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.”
• On July 14, 2021, the California Department of Education issued a Mathematics Framework based on True-West’s Pathway. Chapter 1 of Framework rejects “natural gifts and talents” and calls for de-emphasizing calculus and eliminating classes for gifted children in grades 6-12 to eliminate “inequity.” Chapter 1 specifies that “equity influences all aspects of this document.” The draft Framework directs teachers to use math for political discussions about “marginalized communities” and to move away from focusing on correct methods or answers.
In one of the few (perhaps temporary) victories for sanity, as a result of pushback from parents and educators, the California Education Department has delayed a final decision on its Mathematics Framework until 2022.
• On about August 8, 2021, Oregon disclosed that Governor Brown signed into law a three-year extension of Oregon’s elimination of reading, writing, and math as requirements for graduation.
Profoundly angry, radical, and racist elites are remaking American education from kindergarten through graduate school. Meritocracy is being replaced with demographically-siloed ranking. If a course, test, or standard is too difficult for minority students, or just some minority students (not including Asians, of course), it is either abolished or adulterated to avoid requiring mastery of difficult subjects that have right and wrong answers.
These highly educated and articulate progressives may be angry and vindictive, but they also are well-trained, intelligent, and focused. They have no discernable interest in improving education or in giving underprivileged children the means to rise from poverty. By paying attention to what they say, write, and do, their goals become clear:
• Destroy capitalism. They do not deny this. The 1619 Project describes the alleged “brutality of American capitalism” and incorrectly characterizes slavery as a capitalist enterprise. Black Lives Matter was founded by “trained Marxists.” Building on The Communist Manifesto’s call for “abolition of the family,” until changed last year, BLM’s website set a goal to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” Numerous local chapters of BLM call for abolition of capitalism. It is a testament to BLM and its colleagues that virtually all of our educational elites take their talking points and policies directly from them, regardless of whether they share all of the same goals.
Oregon’s Department of Education characterizes its mission as “the restructuring and dismantling of systems and institutions that create the dichotomy of beneficiaries and the oppressed and marginalized.” True-West and the Gates Foundation see their mission as “dismantling white supremacy” by “making visible the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture.” These sweeping objectives are far broader than math education.
California’s Mathematics Framework calls for using “real-world problems” to teach math, with a focus on equity and social justice.
“To love capitalism is to end up loving racism,” Kendi opines.
• Power. If children can be deprived of the tools for independent thinking and analysis and made reliant on the State for preferences and hand-outs, the Woke elite become their overlords. The prescription includes all of the well-understood Marxist methods: (i) weaken the masses by abolishing standards, learning, and the means to evaluate performance; (ii) begin instruction at an early age to indoctrinate our children; (iii) implement social engineering of outcomes through DEI; (iii) instill fear through loyalty oaths, reporting, and encouraging colleagues to turn on each other; and (iv) force compliance by threat of massive adverse publicity, boycotts, ostracism, termination of individuals, and loss of accreditation for institutions.
By nearly every measure of competitiveness and prosperity, the U.S. is in decline. That other countries also have their problems is in part attributable to those countries being ahead of the U.S. on the slide to socialism. With the focus in America on destroying our education, particularly K-12, we will soon make up for lost time.
To date, eight states have passed laws barring the teaching of CRT and discriminatory concepts, and at least 10 other states have taken some action, or are considering doing so. That is not enough.
To gently update Edmund Burke for gender equality, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.
Image: Public Domain