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Keyword: ‘"ESSA"’

“Critical Race Theory” and the Banning of the 1619 Curriculum: New GOP Memes Intended to Draw Attention Away from their Core Message of White Supremacy

September 8, 2020 Comments off

Two news stories that emerged over Labor Day weekend illustrate how the GOP intends to run the campaign for 2020, and it will not be a pretty picture.

Common Dreams writer Jon Queally describes the Trump administration’s recent edict banning any federal funding for training that is based on “critical race theory”, which is described as “…a theoretical framework for social scientists who explore the ways in which racial identities and racism impact society and culture”. Why is this being banned? Because to is “divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda” that “should have no place in the Federal government.” Calling training that brings structural racism to light, structural racism that reinforces racial biases as “divisive” is preposterous… but it will resonate with the latent White Supremacy that has been subtly and pervasively inculcated by the very structural racism that is currently kept under wraps. A tweet by Jamil Smith summarizes the GOP’s intentions well:

Critical race theory helps contextualize how systemic racism affects us. Trump and his party perpetuate systemic racism, but pretend that it doesn’t exist. Of course he wants “sightings” of CRT reported. This is white supremacy trying to cover its tracks.

Business Insider’s Connor Perrett wrote an article over the weekend on the POTUS’ threat to withhold federal funds from any schools that plan to use the NYTimes’ 1619 series describing the lasting impact of slavery. The Pulitzer Prize winning series has come under some criticism for historic inaccuracies and overstatements regarding the role of slavery in the founding of our country, but that is because it was intended to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” In doing so, the New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones inevitably elicited some pushback from Conservative writers and news outlets. When the state of California announced it would include the 1619 project in its curriculum, the Wall Street Journal reported on it and the POTUS tweeted that the DOE would investigate whether to provide funding for the State.

Here’s what is sad: high-minded editorialists on both sides of the spectrum will write about high-minded issues like academic freedom and the extent to which structural racism and slavery currently hinder the economic and educational advancement of blacks… but voters who never heard of “critical race theory” or read a word of the 1619 series will take sides based on the messenger and the hot button of racism will be in play instead of the simmering issues of fair housing, adequate funding for public schools, and the relentless push to privatize public services. The lizard brain issues will win out and take over bandwidth… the thoughtful issues, the tough ones that require deliberation and compromise, will be shoved aside.

Biden Sends the Right Message on Reopening Schools

September 3, 2020 Comments off

Watch and listen… this is exactly the message the President needs to hear AND respond to:


Categories: Uncategorized

Unions Miss Opportunity to Get Message to Voters: Our Districts Need $$$ to Open Safely

September 2, 2020 Comments off

Yesterday evening’s Common Dreams featured an announcement by both national teacher’s unions that they are planning a national demonstration today seeking more funds— make that SOME funds— to help school districts re-open. As Common Dreams staff writer Kenny Stancil reports:

Students, parents, teachers, school staff, and other community members in dozens of cities across the United States will mobilize Wednesday to demand President Donald Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Republican senators provide schools with the resources necessary to “protect the students, educators, and their families from Covid-19; to save jobs; and to meet the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of all our kids.”

The nationwide day of action is supported by a coalition of social justice organizations and labor groups, including the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the country’s two largest unions for educators and support professionals.

While lamenting all of the things that teachers miss about in-person education, NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia noted in August that schools have not been given “one additional federal dollar to open schools safely.”

Both the NEA and the AFT, along with numerous other groups, encouraged people to join Wednesday’s #DemandSafeSchools demonstrations.

From my perspective, the “…coalition of social justice organizations and labor groups, including the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)” have done a terrible job of messaging. The fact that schools have not been given “one additional federal dollar to open schools safely.” should appear in every news article and every piece of PR that comes from their offices. As one who reads scores of articles on the reopening debate, there has been scant attention paid to the bill that will need to be paid by school districts to cover the costs of a safe reopening. And how high are those costs?  The AASA and ASBO estimate reopening will cost $1,800,000 for an average sized school district serving 3,659 students housed in 8 school buildings and 183 classrooms, employing 329 staff members and using 40 buses transporting at 25% capacity. That works out to just over $490 per student, and for anyone who wants to challenge that figure the two organizations show their work in a press release they issued in early June when they hoped to influence Congress to provide some kind of support. 

But instead of providing support for public schools, the current administration has gotten into a squabble about how to divvy up the funding from CARES legislation designed to cover the costs of closure in the Spring, pressure to open schools to help spur the economy, and castigating teachers and unions for seeking safety measures, administrators for failing to develop multiple options for providing instruction, and downplaying the fiscal realities associated with reopening.

In the next few months the fiscal realities of the pandemic will become clear to the public as local school districts and local governments begin to develop their 2021-22 budgets. The costs to reopen, if not offset by the Federal government, will ultimately fall on local property taxes which are already stretched to the maximum in most communities. When budgets are being developed, I hope that the AASA and ASBO provide some kind of template for local school districts to use to capture the costs of reopening so that when the bill needs to be paid locally that local school boards, local teachers unions, and local school administrators can speak with one voice to remind local taxpayers that the federal government, who provided $676,000,000,000 in additional funding for defense, provided nothing to help public schools reopen in September. The bill for that reopening is now due. Maybe the Defense Department could spare 3.5% of the money they got from the CARES act to help out.