149 Comments

And I do think this kind of approach to education is not going to end up necessarily being a muddle. I think it has a real potential in developing distorted and destructive thinking that doesn't promote a healthy psychological/spiritual mindset in young people or anyone else.

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Thank you for covering this. I have covered the dangers of ethnic studies on my Substack, with particular attention to its embrace of anti-Jewish tropes. The leading ES advocacy orgs in Washington openly state their vision of overturning enlightenment ideals in favor of intersectionality and oppressor/victim paradigms. They blame Jews (code name: “Zionists”) for ruining the first California curriculum, and one leader here has stated on the record that Jews claim “people of color status” and don’t recognize their white privilege, and they act as “barriers and gatekeepers to the work of people of color.”

These groups are actively doing professional development with school districts around Seattle and Olympia.

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This is an excellent piece, and well expressed, making crucial distinctions. Thank you. It is essential that we wake up to educational distortions and especially education being replaced by indoctrination which looks at everything through one particular (distorted) lens. As an educator, I want students to look at a wide variety of perspectives and opinions, and use their real critical thinking skills, not so-called "critical inquiry" or "critical analysis" (always on the basis of a whole political philosophy) which invariably winds up with the same buzz words or their equivalent in its findings. This is no way to educate children or anyone else.

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And you might wonder why homeschooling and the charter school movements are booming....

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Thank you for this well-argued, cogent piece. This is a little beyond the scope of your piece, but I wonder why schools are opting to teach ethnic studies, whose focus is highly specific, and includes an ideological bent, instead of cultural anthropology. Anthropology has its own flaws, of course, but it at least aims at reaching broader and more generally applicable understandings of human behavior. And while aspects of cultural anthropology overlap with the humanities and other traditions, anthropologists are usually expected to at least try to adhere to norms for scientific methodology. In my mind, this puts anthropology head and shoulders above other disciplines seeking to understand human cultural diversity through an political ideological lens. Of course, mainstream anthropology has been tainted by the same social forces that seek to warp every corner of our society with an fixation on race. But at least, in principle, cultural anthropology represents a wider understanding of human nature than the dogmatism of ethic studies.

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You may have misread my comment, which is on CT, not CRT, which is only one of CT's children, or in this case, grandchildren, through CLS.

Unlike you, I don't know what you know and don't know, so I don't know if you know much about CT or anything at all. CT was the neo-Communism that gained intellectual predominance in the Left in my generation.

One suggestion: I understand the need some people have to feel superior and talk down to others, but it might be better if you'd try to talk with people instead.

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We need courses that will teach critically ABOUT "Critical Theory": explain what it is, who developed it, how they developed it as an extension of Leninism with its theme of moving beyond the working class to achieve a more total social-cultural revolution, and its methods for cultural revolution in light of those used in Russia and China under the same name. Also, its points of continuity and contradiction to the methodological norm of true public education, which is critical thinking.

Only teaching honestly about this can stop the indoctrination. No ban can stop it.

In the absence of this teaching, the field is left to those who do not teach ABOUT Critical Theory, but instead preach Critical Theory as a form of indoctrination. They also teach its activism, often by providing a kind of training in CT methods of intolerance, abuse, silencing of disagreement, and instantiation of social hegemony for its adherents. Their ideological impetus is unimpeded by any objective learning.

Where are the scholars who will develop the honest courses that are needed?

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Is it just poor word choice? You write "It is not just social conservatives who object to it. The ethnic studies perspective is contested by reputable scholars" - as if those two categories were mutually incompatible and mutually exclusive.

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Apr 3, 2023·edited Apr 3, 2023

Does the author think we are all morons? Once the conduit is in place, the content will flow. The battle is to keep the camel's nose out of the tent in the first place. Amazing that an educated educationalist can't see this. Oh, and I love the "college ready" rationale (excuse) for infecting high schools with CRT. In short order (4 years, right?), you can expect to see "high school preparation" used to flood elementary and middle schools with this tripe. God save us all from being "educated."

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Earning potential may not be ALL that matters but it is pretty darn important to anyone with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. If they must work multiple jobs just to pay rent and pay off the loan then they won't have much time for literary pursuits - or even a family. These student loans cannot be shed by filing bankruptcy - they lock students into positions of "involuntary servitude" for their early adult and middle age years.

Higher Ed has known this for decades and yet they still churn out bachelor's in social sciences when there are virtually no jobs for social scientists without Ph.D.s - the same goes for most of the Liberal Arts degrees: their primary value is as a stepping stone to post-graduate studies (more school & more debt). Even the old excuse that they learn to write better is suspect because students in these majors learn to write in academese - which is only useful in Academia.

When Higher Ed only served the scions of privilege issuing degrees with low market value was fine - in fact, having a useless education was a sign of status. However, now that Colleges & Universities market themselves as a way out of poverty they should be more upfront about how well each degree serves that purpose. This is especially important when you look at how much student loan debt is accrued by underserved students compared with middle class students.

Some keep parroting vague lines about the value of Higher Ed without seeing that lifting people out of poverty with college degrees is a sales pitch.

Tragic.

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These ethnic studies programs are just make-work for students who were duped into majoring in ethnic studies and then discovered that such degrees provide a marginal boost in earning potential over a solid High School diploma. (Plus, having a degree in a 'Social Activism Major' may send up a red flag for prospective employers who do not want to have zealot-induced drama in the workplace).

It is amusing they want to educate humans into being better angels - they think some book-learnin' will change human nature. It would be funny if it were not so wasteful.

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Huge waste of money, time and effort. But that's woke education.

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A brave and courageous white woman educator who taught her students character and empathy that is so obviously lacking in the racist and sexist commentary here. Many of you clearly lacked teachers like Jane Elliott and yet were obviously in desperate need of her teachings:

https://youtu.be/dLAi78hluFc

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You cannot teach resilience to children without teaching about a variety of people who overcame struggle and the facts surrounding that. Period. Call it ethnic studies. I call it U.S. history.

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Speaking of “ethnic studies” (which is really just U.S. history, folks), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on this day 55 years ago. Is that too communist of a thing to mention for the right wingers on here? He started to talk about economic racism prior to being murdered. RIP, patriot....

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King_Jr.

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