Unity in Diversity

A new book documents authentic stories of fighting political indoctrination and standing up for America.

In the last two years, progressives have responded to parents and citizens protesting critical race theory (CRT), a hot-button issue of the American cultural war, with dishonesty and gaslighting. On the one hand, they argue that CRT’s prevalence in American life is a manufactured crisis and a figment of the reactionary Right’s imagination. On the other hand, they attack anyone who questions the “woke” way of doing business.

A new book, titled The Great Parent Revolt: How Parents and Grassroots Leaders Are Fighting Critical Race Theory in America’s Schools, coauthored by me, Lance Izumi, and McKenzie Richards, seeks to quash these caricatures with positive, real-life stories of everyday Americans. Our book faithfully documents the journeys of fifteen Americans as they confront the incursions of CRT and political indoctrination in their local communities.

Each of these individuals has a unique story to tell. While they may differ in race and ethnicity, socioeconomic background, national origin, and political persuasion, they all share the same conviction to expose and challenge politicized education and the ideological capture of America’s young minds. Their endeavors put the progressives’ favorite slogan to the test: America’s diversity is our national strength.

One common thread connecting these people is an unapologetic belief in America and its founding promises of equality, merit, free speech, and citizenship. To them, equal treatment of every individual, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, is far superior to the amorphous codeword “equity,” which often connotes equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities.

[Related: “Universities Are Not Colorblind—That’s a Big Problem”]

Through experience and free thinking, they’ve deduced the illiberal consequences of perpetuating equity. In the name of equity, ideologues and useful idiots systematically attack meritocracy—for instance, by withholding National Merit Scholarship recognitions in Fairfax County, Virginia, by campaigning to remove standardized testing in elite universities and high schools, and by replacing objective academic standards with subjective ideological abstractions.

To uphold equity, some even infringe upon others’ constitutional right to free speech. Parents and concerned citizens speaking up at local school board meetings are falsely labeled as “domestic terrorists” or organized interests for misinformation. Instead of being celebrated for fostering a culture of excellence, they are smeared as privileged immigrants or “model minorities” cluelessly opposing so-called “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The stories in our book demonstrate the grassroots groundswell of resistance to the orthodoxy of CRT. Some involve immigrants who have risen up to defend their new country and its founding principles. Xi Van Fleet, a mom based in Northern Virginia, experienced the Chinese Cultural Revolution in her formative years and has made it a mission to educate her fellow Americans about the harms of Marxism. Another Virginian, Asra Nomani, born in India to a father who marched for freedom alongside Mahatma Gandhi, works tirelessly to mobilize her community to push back against equity-focused education policies.

Elana Fishbein, a Jewish American who was raised in Israel in a Sephardic family, founded No Left Turn in Education, the first national organization dedicated to empowering parents to protest radical curriculum revisions and demand positive changes of their own. Elina Kaplan, another Jewish American who came to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union at a young age, is leading a bipartisan grassroots movement in California to promote a constructive, apolitical model for ethnic studies.

[Related: “Reinvigorating the American Dream with Individual Agency”]

Many of those profiled in our book are parents who were not politically active before. Nicole Solas, a Rhode Island mother, was sued by the local school board for filing public record requests into her child’s kindergarten curriculum regarding “anti-racist” and “equity” pedagogy. Kelly Schenkoske, a California mom, received many threats from local unions after openly criticizing the local ethnic studies curriculum for its CRT jargon. Gabs Clark, a widowed low-income African-American mom living in Las Vegas at the time, legally challenged her son’s school for giving him a failing grade because he refused to participate in a class assignment designed to label individuals as oppressors or victims. Lia Rensin, a California mom whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, joined Elina Kaplan in championing a balanced way of teaching ethnic studies.

The genuine stories curated in our book also include native-born Americans. Emily Ortiz-Wichmann, whose mother was an immigrant from Mexico with indigenous ancestry, was a school board member in Oceanside, California. After serving on the school board for nearly two decades, she now helps organize local citizens to analyze radical curriculums and fight back. Mari Barke, an Orange County Board of Education trustee, coordinated expert forums on CRT to educate her local community about the ramifications of racialized education. A California student, identified by his pseudonym “Joshua,” resists CRT-based, divisive teaching because he believes every student should be given the opportunity to think freely and critically. Ryan Girdusky, a college drop-out from Queens, New York, started a national organization, the 1776 Project, to help anti-CRT school board candidates win their races. Joe Nalven, a cultural anthropologist and longtime registered Democrat based in San Diego, California, rejects CRT in his local schools by engaging school district officials, local media journalists, and fellow citizens.

Together, these ordinary individuals have done extraordinary work to defeat CRT in schools and save America itself. They are not “book burners” seeking to attack school libraries. Nor are they pursuing personal gain through misinformation and lies. Far from conforming to a coordinated set of conspiracy-ridden, ultra-conservative tropes, they are true American heroes whose diverse backgrounds and inspiring life stories typify the civil rights movement of our times. It’s a fight for what America means: a melting pot of many talents and aspirations unbounded by arbitrary group identities.

Image: Adobe Stock


3 thoughts on “Unity in Diversity

  1. As always in this type of discussion, I want to interject my belief that, like outcomes, opportunities cannot be equalized. The higher up the socio-economic ladder one goes, the more that child has opportunities unavailable to those further down. Whether it is the wherewithal to attend private schools, tutors, private lessons or test preparation, or even just being raised by two college-educated parents who value education and reading, we cannot make opportunity equal.

    However, we can strive to provide an ever-increasing minimum level of opportunity to all, and that should be a continuous improvement goal. Just my 2 cents.

    1. We already have that minimum level of opportunity. Oh, I forgot. Unless you are a white or asian student trying to get into a prestigious university.

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