Commentary

Don't Fall for CRT Shape-Shifting in Education

By Tony Perkins | July 27, 2021 | 10:36am EDT
Joe Biden participates in a debate. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Joe Biden participates in a debate. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Every once in a while, the Biden Administration likes to pretend that it's listening to reason. Don't buy it. That's the message from conservatives, who are trying to keep parents from falling for the White House's line that it's backing away from critical race theory in the classroom. That's the impression Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was going for when he said that the department made an "error" promoting a radical group's CRT theories. Some people cheered, thinking the White House had finally seen the light. But if it sounds too good to be true, experts warn, that's because it is.

Cardona put up a convincing façade. In a statement to Fox News, his office said that it was a mistake to include a handbook from the controversial Abolitionist Teaching Network in the DOE's resources for public schools.

"The Department does not endorse the recommendations of this group, nor do they reflect our policy positions. It was an error in a lengthy document to include this citation," a spokesperson said. But the real error, Hillsdale College's constitutional government Professor Matt Spalding says, would be thinking that the Biden Administration has come to its senses. Yes, they've publicly backed away from the dangerous 1619 Project in certain grant programs, but only because the outcry was so great.

"We should be ever watchful, mindful, and careful," Spalding warns. "The Left is always very good at changing language. They say they've...dropped the mention of the 1619 Project...but a lot of other language still stays in place. So I think it signals something -- but not necessarily a victory. They're going to continue going their merry way, I believe." What is good news, he points out, is just how engaged the American public is. If the Biden Administration is on defense, that shows the impact this uproar is having. But at the end of the day, the Left won't relent. They'll just find new ways to cloak their agenda.

"I don't think they have backed one inch away [from this government-sanctioned racism]," Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, told the Federalist. "They have done what they usually do, which is elaborate wordplay. This is one more attempted hoodwink in public."

Parents, most people agree, need to keep their antennas up.

"Cardona and the folks who run Biden's education department are fully committed to CRT," Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, argues. "Biden himself has instructed every department to fight 'systemic racism,' making CRT the basis of administration policy. So this is nothing more than a shallow attempt to parry public criticism."

We have to keep our foot on the gas, Erika Sanzi from Parents Defending Education insists. Vigilance is the only weapon parents have to keep this Marxist movement at bay.

In places like Russell County, Va., where the school board unanimously rejected Virginia's new transgender guidelines, member Bob Gibson says their district's courage has been contagious.

"Since we've [fought back], I know a couple of other counties have had done similar things. So, you know, hopefully, Richmond will get the word that their values are not Virginia values." Like most parents, he said the community didn't ask for this battle, but they'll stop at nothing to win it and protect their children.

Fortunately for Gibson and other school board members, there's finally a curriculum that they can recommend in place of CRT or the 1619 Project. Thanks to the leaders at Hillsdale College, Donald Trump's 1776 Commission didn't die when Joe Biden killed it. After the president pulled the plug on the project his first day in office, two of its key cogs regrouped at Hillsdale and redirected their energy into writing an accurate counter-curriculum that gives K-12 schools an alternative to the anti-American indoctrination of the Left.

"It's our gift, if you will, to this debate," Spalding explained. "We wanted to give people the front lines fighting at school board meetings in other places, a curriculum to point to. And that's what this is. It's just a straightforward, non-controversial, honest, and accurate history that just a few years ago would have been completely uncontroversial." The 2,000-page resource has 85 full lessons that can be adapted for homeschoolers (who are 11 percent of the student population now!), private schools, and even public schools in states that want to use it. And the best part? It's absolutely free.

"I think there was a natural reaction by a lot of people on the Left, Right, and center that [CRT] doesn't make sense. America is not this evil, racist country. It's not rotten to the core. It's not perfect, [but] it's trying to live up to its principles." Unfortunately, part of the reason that CRT and the 1619 Project got traction is because so many government schools have stopped teaching American history. "We wanted to fill that void," Spalding explained on "Washington Watch." As far as he's concerned, there are plenty of good teachers and good schools out there, but they need our help. This curriculum (which he's quick to point out "was created by teachers and professors -- not activists, journalists, and bureaucrats") gives communities a way to push back with the truth.

In a lot of communities, school boards, teachers, and other parents will take a stand if we do. So let your voices be heard! Visit FRCAction.org/schools for more resources, including our School Board Boot Camp. For a copy of the Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum, check out Hillsdale.edu.

Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council.

Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on the Family Research Council.

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