When elementary students near Washington, D.C., return to school in the fall, either virtually or in-person, they may learn about race and race-based slavery at the tender age of 5 years. Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) has encouraged teachers to adopt an elementary curriculum from the far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — a curriculum that includes lessons on race, slavery, and “hard history” for the K-2 age bracket.
“SPLC is pushing Marxist ideology more or less. They’re really pushing those concepts of ‘revolution’ and ‘dismantling the system’ that we have,” a Loudoun County father of two told The Washington Free Beacon’s Chrissy Clark, who first drew attention to the curriculum. “So rather than everyone coming together and building something great together, it’s about destroying what’s been built.”
Following the horrific deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, Superintendent Eric Williams said, “The painful impact of these harrowing deaths is and will continue to be significant, all the more so because of our keen awareness of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of color.” He further pledged to implement a strategy aiming for the “disruption and dismantling of white supremacy, systemic racism, and hateful language and actions.”
Recommending the SPLC’s “Teaching Tolerance”
In May, LCPS released a “comprehensive equity plan” that included “Utilize Justice Anchor Standards-Teaching Tolerance.org” as an “action step” for the 2020-2021 school year.
The Social Justice Standards published by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the SPLC, aim to present a “road-map for anti-bias education at every grade level,” and the K-2 section mostly focuses on developing an understanding of social identity and basic fairness. The document pushes LGBT identities and the K-2 section mentions a boy who likes to play with dolls. The K-5 standards do not delve into social justice activism, but the later standards explicitly encourage leftist advocacy.
The Free Beacon’s Chrissy Clark drew attention to the LCPS Kindergarten curriculum website, which explicitly endorses Teaching Tolerance materials. (Although LCPS made it clear the materials are optional.) In addition to the Social Justice Standards, the Kindergarten curriculum website encourages Teaching Tolerance’s “Teaching Hard History Framework,” claiming the document “provides essential knowledge, resources and guidance for developmentally appropriate instruction around the hard history of slavery.”
The overall framework presents “key concepts” for K-5 students, including this one: “Slavery shaped the fundamental beliefs of Americans about race and whiteness, and white supremacy was both a product and legacy of slavery.”
The K-2 section of the “Teaching Hard History Framework” lays out ten pieces of “essential knowledge” to teach young children. These standards include:
- Students should know that slavery is when a person owns another person as property.
- Students should know that enslaved Indigenous people and Africans came from nations with diverse cultures and traditions and that they continued many of these traditions while enslaved.
- Students should know that enslaved people had families that could be split up at any time.
- Students should understand that slavery and race are intimately connected, that slavery came to be associated with blackness, and that white people developed racist ideas to justify enslaving people of color.
Are 5-year-old children mature enough to learn this “hard history?” How about 6-year-old kids or 7-year-old youngsters? It would take a rather high level of maturity for children to wrestle with these facts. Imagine teaching a 5-year-old boy or girl that if he or she were a slave, he or she could be removed from his or her family at any time. Such a lesson would leave him or her in tears.
Yet in an introduction to “Teaching Hard History” for K-5, Teaching Tolerance claims that “sugarcoating or ignoring slavery until later grades makes students more upset by or even resistant to true stories about American history.”
Teachers warn about slavery lessons for kindergarten
A longtime elementary school teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, told the Free Beacon that the school system had always taught students about slavery, starting usually in the fourth grade.
“I teach lower grades in elementary school.… [Never before] did I have to teach about slavery,” the teacher said. “Our standards were always [to] teach about famous Americans, George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., people like that. But, it was all very general and the bigger picture, we highlighted their accomplishments.”
“What they’re really trying to do is divide people as early as they can, starting now with kindergarteners. They’re really going to be inciting hate,” the teacher added. “They’re pointing out that there’s ‘whiteness’ and ‘blackness’ and that’s crazy. We never taught about that in school…. We learn about how to get along with one another and be kind and respect others. But now, with this new curriculum that they’re adding, it’s going to do the total opposite.”
Max Eden, an education expert at the Manhattan Institute, also told the Free Beacon that the curriculum was not suitable for kindergarten students. He traced the movement to inject politics into elementary schools to The New York Times‘s “1619 Project.”
“Students aren’t prepared when they’re five years old to develop a nuanced sense of history and political processes, and pros and cons of different side effects, and unintended consequences,” Eden argued “What the real goal of this is, by introducing [slavery] this young, is to try to get the left-wing, Nikole Hannah-Jones, [SPLC] meta-political narrative into kids’ heads as soon as possible, which is basically trying to compel them to believe that because slavery happened, therefore, America is evil and you must follow the leftist idea of … how we need to overturn power in society.”
Marxism and corruption
The “1619 Project” claims that America’s true founding came with the arrival of the first slaves, rather than with the Declaration of Independence. This view justifies upending American society in the name of racial justice. When vandals toppled a statue of George Washington in Portland, they spray-painted “1619” on the statue. Claremont’s Charles Kesler wrote in The New York Post, “Call them the 1619 riots,” and the project’s founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, responded (in a since-deleted tweet) that “it would be an honor” to claim responsibility for the destructive riots and the demonization of Washington.
In a November 9, 1995 op-ed, the 1619 Project founder condemned Christopher Columbus as “no different” from Adolf Hitler and demonized the “white race” as the true “savages” and “bloodsuckers.” She went on to describe “white America’s dream” as “colored America’s nightmare.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) expressed a similar sentiment when she called for the “dismantling” of America’s “economy and political system,” in order to root out supposed racist oppression.
Teaching Tolerance is a project of the SPLC. As I explain in my book, Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC has weaponized its early history as a noble civil rights organization and its record in bankrupting the Ku Klux Klan and related hate groups into a hate-for-pay scheme that defames the SPLC’s political opponents and bilks donors by presenting an inflated picture of “hate” in America. Amid a sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandal last year, the SPLC fired its key co-founder and saw other leaders resign. The SPLC’s “hate group” accusation has even inspired an attempted terrorist attack (although the SPLC condemned the attacker).
Despite these and other scandals, many mainstream media outlets, social media companies, and corporations regard the SPLC as an authority on “hate” and trust its Teaching Tolerance arm.
Teaching Tolerance does indeed seem to push “Marxist ideology.” Last week, the SPLC program published a blog post entitled, “Confronting the Weaponization of Whiteness in Classrooms.” This article clearly uses critical theory to claim that hidden racism pervades America. “Since both anti-Blackness and white supremacy are baked into America’s foundation, they often play out in our daily lives,” the author claims. She even argues that black students are “trying to survive in systems that weren’t designed for them to succeed.”
“Black minds do matter,” the author insists as if teachers across America do not already agree.
This echoes the Smithsonian’s horrifying Marxist lesson on “whiteness” that “deconstructed” various aspects of American and Western culture, including capitalism, science, the nuclear family, and Christianity, as nefarious relics of white supremacy. The lesson also claims that a work ethic, delayed gratification, being polite, and getting to meetings on time are aspects of the “whiteness” culture that must be deconstructed and rejected.
If this is what “decolonizing” the mind looks like, it is a recipe for failure in the workplace and destruction in the public square. While this ideology claims to champion black people, it has inspired riots that have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 22 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black.
Loudoun County Schools should not be trusting the SPLC when it comes to educating children, and it should not push the noxious idea that “white supremacy” is “baked into America’s foundation.” The district would be wise to re-think this recommendation.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.