The scheme to de-emphasize academics and indoctrinate students with the principles of Critical Race Theory, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and gender identification, and how ordinary citizens can fight it, was the subject of a lively discussion among experts in an Overland Park forum.
As reported in The Lion, “The Cultural Divide Between Parents and Schools” featured Mary Miller of Parents Defending Education, Dr. Robert Woodson, founder and president of The Woodson Center, Dr. Wilford Reilly, a political science professor at Kentucky State University, and Dave Trabert, CEO of the Kansas Policy Institute. KPI was one of the event’s sponsors, along with the Ralph L. Smith Foundation and Miller’s PDE. Michael Ryan, the executive editor of The Lion, served as moderator.
Education officials deny that the tenets of critical race theory are being taught in Kansas, but Kansas Policy Institute has documented more than 20 examples, including these cited during the discussion:
- A white male high school athlete in the audience reported of being “scolded” for offering his opinions in school, a direct assault on his Freedom of Speech, as his race and gender are often objects of criticism.
- The diversity director of the Shawnee Mission School District’s video presentation in which he championed discussions on gender identity and transitioning to another gender as early as kindergarten.
- A Kansas parent in a biracial marriage who told of her child coming home questioning if one of the parents is “bad” and the other one “good” based on their race. She also mentioned an assignment for elementary school students that asked them “to write a sentence explaining why you’re sorry for being white”
Miller said these are not isolated incidents:
“We’re noticing that in most cases the new curriculum – and the new activism in the after-school clubs and the new training with the diversity directors – those things tend to be directed by some pretty large national activist groups. And they’re coming into schools in a systemic way.”
Reilly and Woodson traced the dawning of this movement back to the 1960s and the rise of the Welfare State. Reilly charged that its underpinnings are Communist ideology:
“Virtually every critical theory is Marxism, with the ‘rich man’ replaced as the villain … by somebody else,” he said. “Critical Race Theory is the Marxist dynamic with the ‘rich man’ replaced by the ‘white man.’ Feminist theory is Marxism with the ‘rich man’ replaced with ‘the man’.
“There are basically three components to any critical theory,” Reilly went on. “One, society is set up to oppress whatever your group is – women, for example. Two, any gap in performance shows that oppression. … The third point is that the solution is equity.
“Equity does not mean equality. It means absolutely equal distribution of resources between winners and losers.”
Woodson added lowering standards of achievement contributes to the malaise:
“Dumbing down standards doesn’t help black children. There are two ways you can deny people from participating and competing. One is to deny them by law, like it was when I was a child.
“The second one, that is much more devastating, is to tell them that they don’t have to compete. Because of what happened to your ancestors in your past, all you have to do is just sit there at the gambler’s table and wait to be dealt a winning hand. And if white people don’t deal you a winning hand, it’s because they’re racist.”
Fortunately, there are solutions
Trabert suggested schools focus on their primary purpose of academically preparing students for college and career, of which he says they are doing a poor job, with more high school students below grade level than are on track for college and career.
“Their primary job is to academically prepare kids for college and career,” he said, adding that the public education system “is not really designed to help students. It is designed to sustain and support the public education system, and the adults in the system.
He called for greater citizen involvement and competition to increase transparency and accountability.
“This system is not going to fix these problems on its own. There needs to be pressure from adults. There needs to be pressure from the legislature. The best thing the legislature can do is pass universal school choice” as in such states as Florida, Indiana and Arizona.”
Miller summarized the task ahead by identifying three critical areas of focus for reformers:
First, parents and alumni should push school boards for common-sense policies, such as restricting age-inappropriate and divisive material, a parents’ bill of rights, and statements on race-blind hiring.
Second, Miller suggests schools should choose more classical, liberal-arts curricula.
“If we look at any curriculum that’s been released in the last 10 years, it’s riddled with critical theory because the publishers and the [education] schools realize there’s money in it,” she said. “And adopting new curriculum also gives schools access to COVID relief funds.”
Finally, Miller warned that parents and alumni should ensure schools stay away from the influence of radical consultants and national activist groups attempting “to connect to children politically” through after-school clubs and the like.
School officials twist words, deny reality
The Kansas Reflector asked education officials about the panel’s statements and their responses reflect their ongoing efforts to deceive parents.
Shawnee Mission spokesperson David Smith consciously distorted the district’s position on discussing gender identity with kids as young as kindergarteners. He said Bates’ comments were about the district’s efforts to engage with parents on gender issues, but neither Smith nor Bates would directly answer The Sentinel’s questions in that regard. We asked if the district spoke to parents before discussing gender identity and gender transition with young children, but both provided only non-responsive word salads.
Kansas National Education Association spokesperson denied the existence of CRT, but the National Education Association last year made implementing critical race theory its #1 priority. Further, if CRT isn’t being taught, why did 18 Kansas teachers sign a letter promising to continue teaching critical race theory if it isn’t in classrooms?
State Senator Cindy Holscher, who attended the panel discussion, falsely accused Mary Miller of saying that Kansas schools brought in ‘activists’ to promote CRT. This reporter also was in attendance and it was clear that Miller was making a broad statement about the nation, not Kansas specifically. Holscher also deployed two favorite straw man arguments to distract from the truth, basically saying that people who haven’t spent time in classrooms cannot have informed opinions of what occurs, and neither can people who don’t live in Kansas.
Kansas Policy Institute plans to hold more events like this in the coming months to help parents understand what’s happening in schools and to provide solutions.