In the Summer of 1963, having just graduated from high school, I attended the march on Washington in which Martin Luther King gave his famous speech, saying he wanted his children to be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. All of my life I have believed that we are all individuals, brothers and sisters under the skin, and that what matters about us is what we know and can do, and not what race we were born into. Students should be taught to treat everyone, regardless of race or sexual orientation, with dignity as individuals, and that race, an accident of birth, is irrelevant to anything.
I am open minded about almost all political issues, but this belief is in the marrow of my bones and not subject to the slightest compromise.
In the Spring of 2009, to my shock, I discovered that there were powerful forces pushing the other way, treating race as primary. AS Superintendent of Schools, I became aware of ethnic studies in Tucson, including as an explicit part of the curriculum, Critical Race Theory. I read all of their textbooks and curriculum.
I read a curriculum from TUSD where a line is drawn down the middle of the page, one side people of color, the other side whiteness. The whiteness side is all negative, such as "whites interrupt too much". The program specialized in racial stereotyping.
Tucson students were taught the following definition of Critical Race Theory: “Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundation of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.” As I read books on CRT, I found this definition in an early textbook on CRT, intended for the college level, but used by TUSD with high school students.
Why would they teach students to oppose enlightenment rationalism? My dictionary defines the enlightenment as “a movement of late 17th and 18th centuries emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition.” The founders of the American republic were children of the 18th century enlightenment.
What is the psychology here? Is the individualism and reason of modern society too much of a burden, and reverting to primitive tribalism, more comfortable for some?
For about 10 years I was a lonely warrior against CRT. Then, as CRT spread, the rest of the world caught up. Christopher Ruffo, an investigative reporter, has documented over 1,000 cases of CRT in k-12 classes. For example, a public school in Cupertino, Calif. required third graders to “deconstruct” their racial identities and rank themselves according to their “power and privilege.” (Third graders!)
CRT has distorted the meaning of the previously attractive word “equity”. To them, it means distributing benefits by racial percentages, rather than by individual merit. I quote from an article in Commentary Magazine: “Equity as equal outcomes disfavors equal opportunity. Neither does it favor excellence springing from ambition, talent, and free competition of ideas… In the Age of Woke, achievement is not praiseworthy but proof of privilege and injustice.”
What about Arizona? It is an urban myth that CRT is a graduate course not taught in Arizona k-12 schools. I have, and will furnish to anyone who wants it, a public list of 250 Arizona teachers who signed a national teachers’ union document pledging, if a state discouraged teaching CRT, to defy the law. They would not have signed the statement if they were not already teaching it.
The ASU School of education has a required course called TEL 215: Infant, Child, and Adolescent Development. The text for the course has a chapter called "Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race." The class discussion for this chapter includes how these future teachers should articulate how "white people are inherently racist" to their future captive audiences of young elementary students.
CRT is taught under different titles: “Power diversity” in Peoria; “deep equity” in Chandler, which spent almost $1/2 million, that should have gone to teachers’ salaries, to a CRT consultant; “social and emotional learning”, which included the following: “View the video on intersectionality …What is the privilege you hold?” The Baltz district in Arizona was the first in the nation to adopt the 1619 project, currently the primary source for teaching CRT. It teaches that Lincoln, the man who did more good for humanity than anyone in history by freeing the slaves, was a “racist.” He freed the Southern slaves unilaterally by the stroke of his pen against a lot of advice and opposition. He freed the rest of the slaves by pushing hard for the 13th amendment.
A second example from the 1619 project: “The cruelties of capitalism come from the cruelties of the plantation. This is pure Marxism, ignoring that free-market economies free people from poverty, and socialist economies (the Soviet Union, East Germany, North Korea, Venezuela) create poverty.
Third example: The Revolutionary War was not fought for life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but to protect southern slave owners from British interference with slavery. When a number of historians who specialize in that period wrote the NY Times that there was no historical evidence for this, the principal author of the 1619 project dismissed them as "white historians".
Let’s get one thing straight:
NO ONE has EVER suggested that teachers can't teach about the horrors of slavery, Jim Crow, Oklahoma, or any other historical events of racism. That is a straw man put up by CRT advocates to create an easy but fabricated argument to knock down.
The parents who protested in massive numbers at school board meetings weren't making up an excuse because they like to protest. They were protesting because, during COVID, teaching was largely online to students at home, the parents could watch, and they were profoundly shocked at what they saw.
That is one of the reasons I defeated an incumbent in a year when a number of Republicans lost. The parents spoke.