July 27, 2021

CRT Shape-Shifting in Education

There’s finally a curriculum that school board members can recommend in place of CRT or the 1619 Project.

Every once in a while, the Biden administration likes to pretend that it’s listening to reason. Don’t buy it. That’s the message from conservatives, who are trying to keep parents from falling for the White House’s line that it’s backing away from critical race theory in the classroom. That’s the impression Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was going for when he said that the department made an “error” promoting a radical group’s CRT theories. Some people cheered, thinking the White House had finally seen the light. But if it sounds too good to be true, experts warn, that’s because it is.

Cardona put up a convincing façade. In a statement to Fox News, his office said that it was a mistake to include a handbook from the controversial Abolitionist Teaching Network in the DOE’s resources for public schools. “The Department does not endorse the recommendations of this group, nor do they reflect our policy positions. It was an error in a lengthy document to include this citation,” a spokesperson said. But the real error, Hillsdale College’s Matt Spalding says, would be thinking that the Biden administration has come to its senses. Yes, they’ve publicly backed away from the dangerous 1619 Project in certain grant programs, but only because the outcry was so great.

“We should be ever watchful, mindful, and careful,” Spalding warns. “The Left is always very good at changing language. They say they’ve… dropped the mention of the 1619 Project… but a lot of other language still stays in place. So I think it signals something — but not necessarily a victory. They’re going to continue going their merry way, I believe.” What is good news, he points out, is just how engaged the American public is. If the Biden administration is on defense, that shows the impact this uproar is having. But at the end of the day, the Left won’t relent. They’ll just find new ways to cloak their agenda.

“I don’t think they have backed one inch away [from this government-sanctioned racism],” Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, told the Federalist. “They have done what they usually do, which is elaborate wordplay. This is one more attempted hoodwink in public.” Parents, most people agree, need to keep their antennas up. “Cardona and the folks who run Biden’s education department are fully committed to CRT,” Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, argues. “Biden himself has instructed every department to fight ‘systemic racism,’ making CRT the basis of administration policy. So this is nothing more than a shallow attempt to parry public criticism.”

We have to keep our foot on the gas, Erika Sanzi from Parents Defending Education insists. Vigilance is the only weapon parents have to keep this Marxist movement at bay. In places like Russell County, Virginia, where the school board unanimously rejected Virginia’s new transgender guidelines, member Bob Gibson says their district’s courage has been contagious. “Since we’ve [fought back], I know a couple of other counties have had done similar things. So, you know, hopefully, Richmond will get the word that their values are not Virginia values.” Like most parents, he said the community didn’t ask for this battle, but they’ll stop at nothing to win it and protect their children.

Fortunately for Gibson and other school board members, there’s finally a curriculum that they can recommend in place of CRT or the 1619 Project. Thanks to the leaders at Hillsdale College, Donald Trump’s 1776 Commission didn’t die when Joe Biden killed it. After the president pulled the plug on the project his first day in office, two of its key cogs regrouped at Hillsdale and redirected their energy into writing an accurate counter-curriculum that gives K-12 schools an alternative to the anti-American indoctrination of the Left.

“It’s our gift, if you will, to this debate,” Spalding explained. “We wanted to give people the front lines fighting at school board meetings in other places, a curriculum to point to. And that’s what this is. It’s just a straightforward, non-controversial, honest, and accurate history that just a few years ago would have been completely uncontroversial.” The 2,000-page resource has 85 full lessons that can be adapted for homeschoolers (who are 11 percent of the student population now!), private schools, and even public schools in states that want to use it. And the best part? It’s absolutely free.

“I think there was a natural reaction by a lot of people on the Left, Right, and center that [CRT] doesn’t make sense. America is not this evil, racist country. It’s not rotten to the core. It’s not perfect, [but] it’s trying to live up to its principles.” Unfortunately, part of the reason that CRT and the 1619 Project got traction is because so many government schools have stopped teaching American history. “We wanted to fill that void,” Spalding explained on “Washington Watch.” As far as he’s concerned, there are plenty of good teachers and good schools out there, but they need our help. This curriculum (which he’s quick to point out “was created by teachers and professors — not activists, journalists, and bureaucrats”) gives communities a way to push back with the truth.

In a lot of communities, school boards, teachers, and other parents will take a stand if we do. So let your voices be heard! Visit FRCAction.org/schools for more resources, including our School Board Boot Camp. For a copy of the Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum, check out Hillsdale.edu.

Originally published here.

Faulty Censor Triggers Alarm

YouTube is a bully. Bullies like to pick on people smaller and weaker than themselves. For YouTube and its parent company, Google, that includes pretty much everyone. But bullies also back down when their targets fight back. And FRC will always fight back.

YouTube abruptly removed my “Washington Watch” interview with Mary Holland, President and General Counsel of Children’s Health Defense, claiming it violated their Community Guidelines because it contained “medical misinformation.” They also slapped an official warning onto our YouTube account. That was last Monday, July 19, within an hour of our posting the video. Earlier this month, the White House had pressured social media giants to suppress more “misinformation” about vaccines. But apparently, YouTube decided to censor legal information as well. Holland is a lawyer, and our topic was a lawsuit against D.C. after a city mandate sought to conceal from parents medical records concerning their children.

That same day, using YouTube’s appeal mechanism, FRC filed an appeal. “This interview discussed parental rights and federal and constitutional law. The interview does not violate any of the COVID-19 medical misinformation policies listed in YouTube’s Community Guidelines. This is a news interview. There is no misinformation.” YouTube denied the appeal on Tuesday morning, July 20, at 6:48 a.m. They probably thought the matter was settled: one more puny conservative pummeled into silence.

At Family Research Council, we don’t believe in silence. So, we published the interview on Rumble – a video-sharing platform that is friendlier towards free speech. (Interestingly, the video on Rumble now has over 34,000 views that YouTube will never receive). On July 20, we featured the issue in FRC Action’s Washington Update. On July 21, we published the full transcript of the censored video. On July 22, we announced YouTube’s censorship in a press release. Then, on July 23, at 4:18 a.m., YouTube notified us that they revisited our appeal, restored the video, and cleared the warning from our account. In less than three days, YouTube performed a complete about-face. And yet, the only thing that changed is that we decided to speak out publicly.

How can we explain YouTube’s bizarre behavior? There are only four possible options. First, YouTube could sincerely believe, under some inscrutable definition, that the video really contained “medical misinformation.” In that case, their decision to restore the video didn’t make sense. Second, YouTube could have believed the video contained no “medical misinformation,” and censored it arbitrarily and maliciously. In that case, our recent warnings about Big Tech seem especially prescient, and there are likely many conservatives who are quietly being censored and do not have adequate recourses to get the heavy hand of Big Tech giants like YouTube to budge.

Third, the initial censorship could have resulted from an overzealous algorithm programmed to stifle free speech without a human’s review. In that case, YouTube would seem to determine appeals based on a pre-set agenda. Additionally, it would mean YouTube’s rogue algorithm deserves additional human oversight. Fourth, YouTube’s appeal review staff could be divided, with some favoring censorship and some favoring free speech. In that case, YouTube needs to do some serious housecleaning to rebuild its reputation.

While we cannot determine YouTube’s exact motive behind removing our video, we do know that censorship is becoming the rule, not the exception.

When the Biden White House promoted Big Tech censorship, their senior intelligence officials admitted that increasing evidence supports the lab leak theory about COVID’s origin – which had previously been suppressed as misinformation. In real time, the Biden administration is calling on companies to increase its suppression of free speech while admitting previous suppression of speech was mistaken. This strategy is profoundly unreasonable, something which senior federal officials and top YouTube executives should realize. But you can’t reason with a bully.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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