Opinion

Embracing critical theory, teacher’s union says they — not parents — control what kids learn

The political left wants critical race theory in every school district in the nation.
The nation’s largest teachers union has approved a plan to promote critical race theory in all 50 states and 14,000 local school districts.

Over the weekend, the National Education Association (NEA) held its annual Representative Assembly, with delegates from across the United States voting on priorities and allocating funding for the upcoming school year, with the ideology of critical race theory — a form of race-based Marxism — taking center stage.

The union, which represents 3 million public school employees, approved funding for three separate items related to this issue: “increasing the implementation” of “critical race theory” in K-12 curricula, promoting critical race theory in local school districts, and attacking opponents of critical race theory, including parent organizations and conservative research centers.

This is a significant reversal. For the past month, liberal pundits and activists have insisted that critical race theory is not taught in K-12 schools. This was always a bad-faith claim — critical race theory has made inroads in public schools for more than a decade — but the NEA’s official endorsement is the final nail in the coffin.

In the resolution, the union agreed to publicly “convey its support” for critical race theory, oppose restrictions in state legislatures, and use schools for political activism. The delegates pledged to “join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project” to hold a “national day of action” on George Floyd’s birthday, recruiting teachers to hold political demonstrations and “teach lessons about structural racism and oppression.”

The resolution also promised to develop a study to critique “empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, [and] anthropocentrism” — that is, adopting the most fashionable and intellectually bankrupt ideas from the universities and bringing them into grade-school classrooms.

President Joe Biden speaking at the National Education Association Representative Assembly on July 2, 2021.
President Joe Biden speaking at the National Education Association Representative Assembly on July 2, 2021.
EPA/Samuel Corum / POOL

Finally, the NEA passed a resolution to “research the organizations” who oppose critical race theory — including grassroots parent organizations — and provide its operatives resources for attacking them. This is dystopian: The national teachers union will use union dues, originating from taxpayers, to attack public school parents who oppose the racial indoctrination of their children.

The NEA’s militant stance on critical race theory provides much-needed clarity on the issue. Progressives such as MSNBC host Joy Reid can no longer disingenuously claim that critical race theory is only taught in law schools or that it is only a “lens” for examining American history. The teachers union has nationalized critical race theory and committed to the full range of left-wing radicalism, including opposition to “capitalism” and “anthropocentrism.”

Moving forward, the question is now clear: Who decides what happens in public schools? Parents, voters and state legislatures? Or the national teachers union and its allies in the public school bureaucracy?

Fortunately, the American public isn’t ready to cede its authority to left-wing ideologues masquerading as educators. According to a recent YouGov survey, 58 percent of Americans oppose critical race theory, including 72 percent of independents who believe teaching it in schools is “bad for America.”

The uprising that has begun in local school boards could soon turn into a national movement, with implications for the midterm elections and beyond.

There is nothing more important than what happens to our children — and, as parents are quickly realizing, critical race theory is ideological poison.

Christopher F. Rufo is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.


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