Moderate and some progressive Democrats have begun to push back on the extraordinary excesses of critical race theory–to the point that the teaching of CRT even in big cities may be on the way out.
San Francisco is a good example. The wokest of woke cities, San Francisco is seeing a revolt by parents who don’t like seeing their children divided along racial lines and don’t support sacrificing excellence in the name of equity and diversity.
Citizens in San Francisco are attempting the unprecedented recall of three members of the school board who have come under fire for some of the most radical policies in America.
What has the board done to make itself so unpopular? Consider what it didn’t do. San Francisco was one of the last public school systems to reopen. It was so bad, at one point the city itself sued the school district.
Meanwhile, in January the board found the time to vote to strip 44 public schools of their names, including Abraham Lincoln High and Dianne Feinstein Elementary, over alleged complicity in racism or oppression. This was followed by an embarrassing about-face when it emerged how flimsy the criteria were. Alamo Elementary School made the list even though it was named not for the Texas battle but for the Spanish word for poplar tree.
But the key in San Francisco and other big cities is the deliberate undermining and shortchanging of Asian-American students. In their eagerness to strike a blow against white racism, the radicals have decided to punish Asian-Americans.
A month after its infamous name-change vote, the school board scrapped merit-based admissions in favor of a lottery system at Lowell High School, crown jewel of the city’s public system. The idea was to increase minority representation at the school.
But as critics noted, Lowell was already 82% nonwhite. It’s just that progressive math excludes Asian-Americans. Apparently it never occurs to the woke that the regular use of diversity to penalize Asian-American children for their hard work and achievement might itself be a form of systemic racism.
“The denial of equal rights to educational opportunity for Asian-American children by those claiming progressive values is particularly tragic in light of the recent pandemic of violence against Asian-Americans,” Lee Cheng, a co-founder and director of the Asian American Legal Foundation, told the Journal. “The street thugs and the educrats in San Francisco share many characteristics and prejudices. Both are racist. Some are just better dressed.”
In the heartland, parents have been pushing back on CRT and have successfully passed laws or introduced bills in nearly two dozen states. Not all of those are red states. And the tide may indeed be turning when moderate suburbanites — once a reliable voting bloc for Republicans before tilting heavily toward the Democrats in 2018 and 2020 — put their foot down to tell woke Democrats “no further.”
“I firmly believe that if the vast majority of Californians and Americans knew about this, and about the content of this type of curriculum, this would not be happening. We would not be having this conversation,” Eileen Kaplan, a Democrat suburbanite, told Politico.
But Democrats aren’t listening.
“I don’t think we would think that educating the youth and next and future leaders of the country on systemic racism is indoctrination,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in May.
Kaplan, who has launched an email list, set up meetings with state legislators and recruited people to meet with their school boards to discuss ethnic studies, is representative of Democrat-leaning or politically moderate suburbanites interviewed by POLITICO in six states, all but one of which were won by Biden. They are up in arms over their school systems’ new equity initiatives, which they argue are costly and divisive, encouraging students to group themselves by race and take pro-activist stances. Proponents of the initiatives say they are a long-overdue step toward getting rid of systemic racism in the school system.
“That’s another right-wing conspiracy. This is totally made up by Donald Trump and [Republican candidate for governor] Glenn Youngkin,” Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said in June.
But those Democrats appear to be underestimating parents’ anger in places where critical race theory is top of mind. Objections to new equity plans are not the sole province of conservatives but extend to many moderate and independent voters, according to POLITICO interviews with school board members, political operatives and activists in Democratic and left-leaning communities including the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; New York’s Westchester County; Maricopa County covering Phoenix, Ariz.; and suburban Detroit.
Parents who are showing up to school board meetings and have helped launch a spate of recall elections say they are angry about a host of issues, including what they see as a myopic focus on diversity at school boards, ongoing frustration over a year of closed schools and school lesson plans that they say are becoming too progressive, too fast. While those complaints have often been branded in the media as “anti-critical race theory,” the causes of the anger are varied, and are being ignored, parents say.
The key is that parents are not letting school boards get away with it any longer. For decades, school boards have counted on the inattentiveness of parents and their deferral to educators when it comes to teaching their children. They can’t count on that any longer.
There are some parents who simply don’t want their children indoctrinated with leftist dogma. Others object to the skewed historical views demanded by critical race theory. It’s hard to see how CRT can survive the scrutiny it is now under.
But parents will need to maintain vigilance. This effort to alter America’s historical narrative isn’t going away.