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This Norman Rockwell painting is called “Freedom of Speech”. It depicts a Vermont dairy farmer speaking his mind at a school board meeting, and no, he is not a “domestic terrorist”! (A recent piece by Selina Zito reminded me of this painting.) Today, parents of schoolchildren have a very special reason to be upset: the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) as part of the regular curriculum. A better name for this vapid “theory” might be “critical race theology”, because it is no “theory” at all: it is a set of “woke” accusations leveled against “out groups” designated by leftists: whites, straights, men, and sometimes groups like Jews and Asians. Many people of color are just as dismayed as those among CRT’s targets because its wrongheaded and corrosive nature is so plain. CRT is itself straightforwardly racist.

Taxpayers have a place in this debate as well, at both the K-12 and public university levels. However, their role in funding the indoctrination taking place in public schools has been neglected in the story of the revolt against CRT.

The Parent Trap

Many parents have taken strong action in response to the CRT onslaught. Some have quietly removed their children from public schools, while others have chosen to register their objections with school officials, often at school board meetings. Also, there has been some success at the ballot box by dissident school board candidates. This is grass roots participatory democracy in action, local and vocal. Certainly parents have a greater stake in their childrens’ education than anyone (except the kids themselves). They have a right to know what’s being taught and to provide critical feedback to schools.

School officials, teachers unions, and CRT teacher-enthusiasts are not likely to be straightforward about whether CRT is actually taught, however. This link might help you see through the gaslighting to which we’ve all been subjected. This article discusses various political avenues for fighting CRT in the schools. And here’s a “tool kit” that might be helpful.

Garland’s Effrontery

To top it all off, recently we’ve witnessed an act of fascist authoritarianism by the U.S. Attorney General that, by all appearances, involves a conspiracy between the Biden Administration, top officials at the Department of Justice, and the National School Boards Association (NSBA). AG Merrick Garland’s memorandum of October 4 announced a “partnership among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement to address threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.“ He did not provide actual evidence of threats against school boards or personnel, however. Yet Garland is willing to treat interested parents as if they are domestic terrorists! His memorandum is a thinly veiled warning to anyone having the temerity to confront school authorities on issues like CRT, as well as school mask mandates (which are ineffective, unnecessary, and detrimental to learning, socialization, and the psychological well being of children). Furthermore, we now know of an obvious conflict of interest: Garland’s daughter is married to the cofounder of Panorama Education, which sells training materials for teachers of CRT.

While Garland’s attempt to undercut free speech might chill the willingness of some parents to speak out against CRT in the schools, many refuse to back down. The following is an excerpt from a letter to the NSBA written on behalf of 427,000 parent-members of 21 organizations:

Our organizations unequivocally oppose violence and find it deeply troubling that you imply otherwise about concerned citizens who care deeply about their community’s children – and who are concerned by the direction that America’s schools have taken.

  • Citizens are angry that school boards and school officials around the country are restricting access to public meetings, limiting public comment, and in some cases conducting business via text messages in violation of state open meetings laws.
  • They are angry that schools are charging them thousands of dollars in public records requests to view curriculum and training materials that impact their children and that should be open to the public by default.
  • They are angry that pandemic-related learning losses have compounded the already-low reading, writing, and math proficiency rates in America’s schools.
  • They are angry that rather than focusing on declining student achievement, large numbers of districts have chosen to fund, often with hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money, “social justice” and “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs with finite resources.

Insularity At the Board

I’ll be surprised if Garland’s memorandum doesn’t inspire many parents to push harder against CRT in their local schools. However, getting in front of school boards is not always easy, thanks to restricted access for public comment. Here’s an example of the draconian reaction by school authorities in their effort to silence parents, from Orange County, CA. In my own local school district in Missouri, making a short comment at a board meeting first requires submission of a request detailing the subject or question you wish to address to the board. Not only can they simply ignore your request, but it also gives them an opportunity to “circle the wagons” in advance, as it were, even calling upon various “friends of the board” to attend en masse.

The leftists who support CRT fight dirty, as this article notes:

Nicole Solas, a mother who has complained about her school board, has been harassed and even sued by the authorities. Go ahead, ‘arrest me,’ she said on Twitter. ‘They wanted to publicly humiliate me,’ she said. ‘They paid a PR firm to call me a racist in the national media. So they really wanted to ostracize me from my community.’

The anger of parents toward this bankrupt philosophy in our schools, and its belligerent proponents, is well justified. Parents obviously have the biggest stake in this controversy. My kids are grown, but I’m angry too, in part because the once-fine education offered by our school district has digressed to brutish proselytization about victimhood, its supposed perpetrators, and the emphasis on the Left’s version of “social justice”. I’m also angry as a taxpayer. While the student population might shrink as decent families abandon the brainwashing camps in favor of private schools or home schooling, does anyone expect the tax bill to decline commensurately? At all? School taxes should be a ripe area for activism, because lots of people don’t want to pay for this shit!

Our Taxes, Our Schools?

Opponents of CRT won a victory of sorts this summer when the U.S. Department of Education amended a proposal that would have prioritized CRT initiatives in awarding grant money.

The Department of Education withdrew ‘the requirement that grantees incorporate curriculum and instruction based on or similar to the 1619 Project or the works of Ibram X. Kendi.’

Hooray for that. And in August, the U.S. Senate passed a “STOP CRT” amendment to the otherwise misbegotten $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” bill. The amendment would ban the use of federal funds for teaching CRT in schools. Of course, that the federal government has any role in funding local schools, and in shaping their curricula, is itself regrettable.

At the state level, many Republican office-holders seem unaware of the use of state resources for CRT in schools, as this piece about Indiana demonstrates. Perhaps they’ve been cowed, and are reluctant to comment for fear of being called racists by CRT proponents. Registering strong displeasure with state legislators regarding the onslaught of CRT is something all within our opposition should be doing.

Local taxes still account for most school funding. There’s obviously no way to get around school district bond servicing. Most ballot initiatives on school taxes appear at the behest of the school districts themselves, and generally those go in only one direction: up! General funding may be subject to reduction via ballot initiative, but petitions are usually necessary, and apparently those have been few and far between. A more promising avenue for wresting control over school funding are school voucher programs, whereby school funds (either state or local dollars) follow the student rather than remaining under the control of monopoly school districts. School choice is expanding across a number of states, having been given a boost by the pandemic. CRT might prove to be an additional impetus in some states. But parents should be careful: some private schools are just as brazen as public schools when it comes to peddling CRT. And there is the danger that vouchers, one day, will bring unwelcome government curriculum mandates.

Joining Arms

The widespread adoption of critical theology in public schools (and universities) is not only a corruption of education: it is institutional roguery and a misappropriation of taxpayer funds for political indoctrination. This is aggravated by the unresponsiveness of many school boards, administrators, and teachers. Parents have good cause to be infuriated, and so do taxpayers. They are natural allies in this struggle to win back our educational institutions.