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Surprise: Oregon Officials Push CRT-Style Racialism...For Kindergarteners

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

Whenever "Critical Race Theory" – which is both a specific pedagogical strain and an umbrella term for racialized indoctrination in schools – arises as an issue, many on the left insist that it's an invented right-wing scare tactic. Some even claim, as failed gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe repeatedly did in Virginia, that parents concerned about the broad phenomenon of CRT are themselves engaged in racism. These denials and deflections are easily refuted through reams of documented evidence. CRT and toxic CRT-adjacent inculcation is being introduced and taught in public schools across much of the country. Some so-called progressives toggle back and forth between denying the existence of CRT and celebrating the essential nature of CRT. One example I often cite is this explicit, public boasting by the superintendent of a large school system in a major American city: 


This doesn't quite comport with the "it's all a giant made-up lie by racists" talking point, does it? Proof that radical racialism is being injected into K-12 education continues to pile up every day. Here's another emerging example out of Oregon: 

Remember, we are endlessly and angrily assured that this sort of thing is the stuff of conservative fever dreams. Jilani links to his piece exposing these developments last year: 

If you want to know how this new racialism manifests in the real world, look no further than Oregon’s Kindergarten 2021 Social Science Standards, which have been updated to integrate “ethnic studies.” Standards like this one lay out the knowledge, skills, and understandings that educators are expected to impart to their students, and teachers use them as a rough guide for composing their lessons for the year. Although Oregon schools are not required to implement these new standards until 2026, they have been approved for classroom use as of March of this year.  The Kindergarten 2021 standards definitively step away from colorblindness and towards racialism...Teachers are tasked with making sure that students “develop an understanding of one’s own identity groups including, but not limited to, race, gender, family, ethnicity, culture, religion, and ability.” Furthermore, students should be able to “make connections identifying similarities and differences including race, ethnicity, culture, disability, and gender between self and others,” “identify examples of unfairness or injustice towards individuals or groups,” and “identify possible solutions to injustices that demonstrate fairness and empathy.” Reading over these standards, you have to wonder if the people who composed them have actually ever met your average five-year-old.


Oregon’s approach "encourages students to see others as members of certain identity groups rather than as individuals" from the very earliest ages, he writes, arguing that this does not strike him as progress, based on his own experience: "I grew up as both a racial and religious minority in the Deep South. I knew I had some differences with my classmates, but the school system I was raised in emphasized colorblindness. I was seen as co-equal with my classmates, treated no better and no worse. I wasn’t the Pakistani Muslim who needs to be treated as a Pakistani Muslim (whatever that would entail)—I was Zaid. And Zaid was just another classmate, who was who he chose to be." Colorblindness is now seen as an affront by the racial obsessives, who are trying to "correct" it by inculcating race-driven mentalities among five-year-olds. And parents who object to this are liars, bigots, or even potential domestic terrorists. Meanwhile, we have this, out of Wisconsin: 

Teachers at a school district in Wisconsin are being instructed to hide their students’ changing gender identities from parents on the grounds that “parents are not entitled to know,” and that it is “knowledge that must be earned,” according to leaked training documents. The instruction was part of several recent staff development sessions for teachers in the Eau Claire Area School District in central Wisconsin that focused on safe spaces, gender identity, microaggressions, and oppression. According to one of the trainers, parents who disagree with their kids about gender identity issues are guilty of a form of “abuse.” The trainers also encouraged the teachers to be activists: “to vote, to demonstrate, to protest.”

These are complex issues. One of the reasons I am opposed, on balance, to the hotly-debated Florida law is that it could be interpreted as requiring school officials to "out" students to parents in a way that would be harmful to some LGBT youth (more on that whole controversy in a moment). What the Wisconsin training appears to do is advocate active concealment of information from parents, treating them as third parties who aren't entitled to know things about their own children. Keeping a child's sought-out confidence on a personal struggle is one thing; treating parents as hostile entities, as a matter of policy, is quite another. Once again, parents who worry about this sort of thing are called paranoiacs and worse, which brings us to the Florida bill, which I actually read. It's quite short. I laid out a lengthy Twitter thread explicating the ways I believe it's being demonized and mischaracterized by opponents and covered in a biased way by much of the news media. I also explained that the most often cited provision by proponents (barring sexual orientation or gender identity instruction in classrooms for K-3 students) is not objectionable to me. It's other elements that are vague, ill-defined, and potentially abused that underly my concern.

I've likewise argued that critics of the bill would be foolish to adopt a stance that amounts to pro-identity-indoctrination for six-year-olds. ABC News produced a poll that purported to show wide public opposition to legislation like Florida's controversial bill, although the methodology of the survey was strange, and the wording of the question was somewhat vague. The Daily Wire commissioned their own poll that embedded the law's verbatim verbiage on this particular issue within the question itself. Result: 


More than 6 in 10 Americans (64%) support the Florida bill’s ban on classroom instructions on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3, or at any level if it is not presented in a manner that is age or developmentally appropriate. Twenty-one percent said they oppose the bill. The Florida measure is backed by 69% of Republicans, 62% of Democrats, and 57% of Independents. There were also no notable differences among whites (63%), blacks (66%), and Latinos (62%) or by age. 68% of parents support the Florida bill’s classroom instruction regulations.

This outcome does not surprise me in the least. There are smarter, substantive ways to raise questions and concerns about the bill. I've attempted to respectfully do so. But so much of the opposition we've witnessed thus far betrays embarrassing ignorance about what's actually in the proposed law. The DW survey helps explain why Gov. Ron DeSantis is leaning into this battle – his critics keep handing him political gifts, even regarding issues on which I disagree with him. On that score, I'll leave you with this

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