Two questions from parents have arisen repeatedly about critical race theory: Is this really being taught in our schools, and how could our teachers and government be wrong? I will here establish that Vermont’s school curriculum is largely saturated with the tenets and teachings of critical race theory, which views all white people as racists, and the American “system” and Constitution as oppressive. The reason is that political zeal eclipsed normal critical analysis to advance a novel, race-centric ideology — without zero evidence that it will be beneficial.
Those parents whose minds are boggled that highly educated school teachers could inflict this degree of harm on their children can perhaps take heart that it is in ignorance — teachers and bureaucrats embracing CRT are not educated in legal rights or the psychological harm caused by institutional shaming. They have just got in way over their heads (and pay grade) because of their personal politics. (Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.)
Or do they know what they are doing? Efforts to obfuscate and lie about the extent to which CRT has already been implemented in curricula suggests awareness. After all, if CRT is so ironclad and beneficial, why do they have to hide it and lash out at parents who raise logical concerns? Two of the big lies are that it isn’t being taught, and that teachers know best.
The fact is: CRT has saturated Vermont schools. Researching almost any curriculum reveals our kids are being steeped in it. The entire curriculum is focused on left-leaning progressive materials, including anti-gun, pro-illegal immigration, pro-transgender, and other overtly political works. Among other tomes of supposed educational benefit are controversial race agitator Ibram Kendi’s “Stamped From the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” (No works by highly educated scholar Thomas Sowell are incorporated, presumably because only liberal progressive teaching materials are now available in Vermont schools, consistent with this mono-ideology of social justice.)
Orleans County students are thus directed to a biased political ideological tome that it’s author claims “is not a history book” — because it is anecdotal and paints a warped, even perverse, view of American history. That’s why the book “landed the second position on the American Library Association’s list of the most commonly banned and challenged books in the United States “because of the author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains ‘selective storytelling incidents’ and does not encompass racism against all people.”
Yet repeatedly, Vermonters are being told that CRT is not in their schools, and that those asking questions are racists for doing so. But not only is it there — it is toxic, unchallenged by opposing views, and teaches a nasty racism that harms young people. Writes one scholar:
This is especially dire in a foundational assumption that Kendi lays out explicitly: that all racial disparities are due to racism. That so very many have pushed back against this way of viewing a complex society with a four-century history figures for Kendi as mere ‘racists’ having their say. There is a general air in his text suggesting that the basic wisdom of ‘unequal outcomes signal unequal opportunity’ is beyond question by any moral person, such that we might think it a courtesy that he makes his case without raising his voice. … His philosophy founders especially on education in this way. Kendi subscribes to the notion getting around these days, from the contingent fascinated with white privilege, that things like close reasoning, the written word, and objectivity are ‘white’ practices, the imposition upon black people of which is ‘racist.’
It appears that, like so many left leaning institutions infected with CRT race derangement, the school system in Vermont has made eliminating racism (an obvious impossibility) as sole objective. Despite saying CRT is absent from our schools, this is the OCSU mission statement:
It is the mission of the Orleans Central Supervisory Union to provide an environment that celebrates diversity and creativity, promotes inclusion and integrity, and partners with parents and community members to give students access to a 21st century education.
- Develop curriculum and pedagogy practices that promote justice and challenge bias
- Foster a learning environment in which stereotypes and bias are named, examined and challenged so that all community members are supported in developing their personal social identity
CRT is alive and thriving in Vermont’s progressive schools — but how could supposedly intelligent people have embraced something so untested, counterintuitive, harmful to young minds, and antithetical to American history and jurisprudence? The answer is simple, if one remembers that academic elites have done such things repeatedly in the past, and that CRT was developed “theoretically” in those same halls, never subjected to academic testing or rigor, and launched by teachers’ unions and bureaucrats without consideration of opposing views.
As Thomas Sowell explains in his brilliant book “Discrimination and Disparities,” genetic determinism (most prominently, eugenics and Nazism) presumed that differences between groups were attributable to their DNA. Critical race theory makes the opposite (and equally false) oversimplification: that all disparities are the consequence of discrimination. Sowell observes that it has been the leading so-called “academic scholars” who have led the way into both ideological errors:
On both sides of the Atlantic, and in both eras, leading intellectual and political figures were in the forefront of those promoting the prevailing presumption of their time…. In the United States, leading figures in the eugenics movement included founders and leading officials of the American Sociological Association and the American Economic Association….In short, stampedes toward one-factor explanations do not exempt even the leading intellectuals of an era. (pp. 26, 27)
Margaret Sanger of Planned parenthood was an avid eugenics advocate: “In the 1920s and 1930s, eugenics enjoyed widespread support from mainstream doctors, scientists and the general public.”
At the forefront of the genetic-determinism effort to create a superior human race was Hitler’s Germany, where the top intellectuals of “the Motherland” engineered genocide using an untested ideology based on an oversimplified abuse of science to achieve political domination. A recent documentary series on Netflix studies Hitler’s Einsatzgruppen, or “task forces,” which were “mobile killing squads” specializing in mass executions. Of 21 Einsatzgruppen Commanders, about half had PhDs: they were legal scholars, upper class “men of letters.” After expanding the extermination of Jews from able-bodied men to include women and children, the Nazis required a rationalization. As one historian explained (Episode 1, at 30:20):
They switch from total war, us-or-them rhetoric, to a utopian one: ‘They must be killed to fulfill our dream.’… It’s not surprising that men of letters were selected. As experts in rhetoric, they were the most apt to be eloquent enough to convince men who weren’t born killers to kill women and children.
Vermont’s teachers and administrators have embraced critical race theory not because they are critical thinkers, but because they are not. CRT is not an academic pursuit, but a political one. CRT = BLM = Far-left extremism. This is why hate poetry (that fantasizes about hacking whites to death with a machete) and Kendi’s race-only history lens, are taught in Vermont schools — while Harvard scholar and influential economist Thomas Sowell is unknown to dumbfounded “academics.”
Vermont Sen. Becca Balint has chimed in as a “former history teacher” and elite expert on CRT — except she has no idea what she is writing about in her recent attack on those asking questions. (This ideology never defends itself — it attacks others who question it).
As she wrote:
The manufactured crisis around the bugaboo of “critical race theory” is maddening. Yet it’s also an excellent opportunity for us to get more curious about important details of American history. But we must be brave enough to take advantage of the opportunity. Talking about race and racism will not lead to less patriotism or a dampened love of country, and conversations about racism are not simply a way to “pile” on white people and blame us for things that happened long ago. We can and should learn about and discuss our shared history as Americans — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Teaching about these policies isn’t critical race theory; it’s simply American history, and the more we understand it, the better we can understand present conditions.
News flash for Becca Balint: No one is saying they don’t want to discuss American history. CRT teaches children that they are beneficiaries of a “system” which implicitly favors white people; that this system must be “improved” to an impossible ideal of ensuring everyone possesses equal wealth (“equity”); labels people based on their skin color as “privileged” or “marginalized”; assumes all racial disparities arise from discrimination; presumes to eliminate subconscious racism and make children “woke” to their positional identity; and segregates students based on skin color in Vermont schools (“Affinity groups”). But Sen. Balint scoffs at parental concerns about these dramatic shifts in education as a “manufactured crisis around the bugaboo” of CRT. CRT is not simply the “teaching of history” — does Ms. Balint not know that? She has not addressed any of these very real concerns, or the fact that segregating students based on race violates existing law.
OCSU Superintendent John Castle is an eager CRT proponent. Like the National Education Association, he has jumped on the crisis of COVID to launch a new age in education, focused on skin color: “I am hopeful that we have entered a new era that will bring health, prosperity, social justice, renewed strengthening of our democracy and a truly progressive shift in education,” he wrote.
Vermonters can readily see how their educators have launched into a political, virtue-signalling ideology without any evidence whatsoever that it will actually work — let alone assurances that it will not harm children, as many have warned. They call this a “truly progressive shift in education” — but if you ask any questions, they snarl that they are just teaching truth and history, and making the world a perfect place for all.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2021. All rights reserved.