Radicals pushing a Marxist and racist pedagogy called Critical Race Theory (CRT) have achieved their goal of destroying quality education in K-12 school systems in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and other large, progressive-controlled cities. But if suburban parents think they are safe from these depredations due to the existing quality of their school systems and parental involvement, they are wrong. CRT has already quietly established residence in affluent suburban communities under the benign-sounding guise of Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education (CR-S) under the aegis of state education departments, teachers’ unions and the burgeoning CRT industry.
For example, in 2018, the New York State Board of Regents engaged the New York University/Steinhardt Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools to develop a “framework for culturally-responsive-sustaining education. As a result of the Regents’ adoption of the resulting guidance document, students and parents in the affluent suburbs in Westchester County, which is immediately north of New York City, are being subjected to efforts to perform “equity audits”, “cultural proficiency training” and culturally responsive educational programs.
While the language of CR-S may seem benign at first sight, these programs are based on CRT, an ideology that seeks educational “equity” by uprooting the biases between the oppressors (white, privileged students) and the oppressed (non-white students). The New York State Department of Education gave its blessing to these efforts in its guidance document, available on the state’s website, which has the starting point that our current educational system has failed the diverse needs of children
New York’s guideline makes no bones about the alleged culprits of performance inequities and where this is headed. “A complex system of biases and structural inequities is at play, deeply rooted in our country’s history, culture and institutions. This system of inequity – which routinely confers advantage and disadvantage based on linguistic background, gender, skin color and other characteristics – must be clearly understood, directly challenged and fundamentally transformed.”
Under the pretext of promoting diversity, students and parents are being forced to accept anti-racist curriculum in subjects from English to math, in which white students are reminded of their white privilege and given dictatorial edicts by their teachers to which no one may object.
The rapid deterioration of education quality in New York City is the model: get the teachers union on board with the CRT industry, and then destroy the traditional curriculum of American History, classic literature and learning math by substituting struggle sessions to demean targeted racial or ethnic groups, dictating reading lists of vile “anti-racist” authors, eliminate meritocratic high schools and introduce non-academic and age-inappropriate sexual materials.
The mayor and the superintendent of schools intend to eliminate tests to get into competitive schools because insufficient percentages of black and Hispanic students are gaining admission. One Manhattan school sent parents a crude race-o-meter to determine the toxicity of one’s whiteness. It ranged from White Supremacist (the worst) to White Abolitionist (the best).
In New York’s suburbs, the efforts to change curriculum are far more nuanced and assume that liberal-minded parents will buy into the programs. That has been the case in some wealthy, liberal communities. For example, Scarsdale, a is a nationally-recognized school system of academic achievement, the system’s administration is contemplating changes in the curriculum to include themes of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The new emphasis will be on teaching the history of inequality and having students engage with people who aren’t white, including students in third world countries and ex-cons. The administration is benchmarking to the state’s CR-S guidelines. The changes and implementation are openly discussed at school board meetings, without visible pushback.
But in Pelham, NY, a more economically and racially heterogeneous community on Long Island Sound, the administration’s strategy was incremental implementation by coopting a handful of like-minded parents and then declaring fait accompli. Adoption of CR-S began in force in 2018 with the training of a small group of teachers, administrators and parents in “cultural proficiency” by the diversity consultant Campbell Jones. Adoption accelerated in 2020 with an “equity audit” by NYU/Steinhardt Metro Center. Equity audits consist of gathering student demographics, suspension data, achievement data, AP course participation by race, and other metrics.
The Rye City School District also engaged NYU/Steinhardt Metro Center for diversity and CR-S consulting. In late summer 2020, NYU/Steinhardt made a presentation to the district, asserting that students should prioritize racial equity over equality of opportunity and that differences in levels of achievement, income and wealth are entirely explained by systemic racism. NYU/Steinhardt Metro Center recommended an equity audit and was hired to guide a task force. The Rye City Superintendent of Schools and a Director of NYU/Steinhardt recently distributed sample toolkits to the task force for Anti-bias/Anti-racist (ABAR) work in schools and communities. Among the many “tools” it offers is Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP), which advocates “moving towards collectivist culture and away from individualistic culture.”
Realizing that these equity audits and task forces were going to lay the foundation for more radical changes in curriculum and brainwashing of children in ideologies that are antithetical to traditional parental belief systems, parents and community leaders in Rye and Pelham are resisting. They are circulating petitions and demanding transparency from the school boards and administrations. Parents in other suburban communities across the US have formed organizations, like No Left Turn in Education, which achieved massive national membership within months of their creation. Suburban parents reject the notion of being fundamentally transformed by radical outside organizations.
Liberal Westchester County is not the only place where these divisive efforts are being forced on parents, teachers and students; it is happening all over the country, in Washington State, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania.
The suburbs have long been aspirational communities centered around family, quality education and civic life. CR-S is just the beginning of an all-out attack on the traditional values of American family life and of local control over education.
Linda R. Killian is a retired financial analyst.