Teachers unions are your enemy


Not all teachers – for there are many good and decent ones – but the profession, and certainly its upper echelon, is fast becoming a societal poison:

The president of the nation’s second-largest teachers union is taking a strong stand against a recent spate of laws that restrict public-school lessons on racism, vowing legal action to protect any member who “gets in trouble for teaching honest history.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, warned in a speech Tuesday that conservative lawmakers, pundits and news sites are waging a “culture campaign” against critical race theory. The theory is a decades-old academic framework that asserts racism is woven into the history and thus the present of the nation, helping shape how institutions and systems function.
In her remarks, Weingarten said that critical race theory is not taught in U.S. elementary, middle and high schools. The theory is taught only in law school and in college, she said.
“But culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism or discrimination as [critical race theory] to try to make it toxic,” Weingarten told a virtual professional development conference for union members. “They are bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history.”

The right is trying to stop teachers teaching “honest” and “accurate” history? Forget, if you can, the outrageous media framing (“laws that restrict public-school lessons on racism”) which dovetails into the union’s agenda. As if students have not been taught for decades now about the history – and the moral evil – of slavery, as well as about colonialism, dispossession of Native Americans, harsh working life under early capitalism, the status of women in the past, Jim Crow and legal discrimination, the persecution of sexual minorities, and other similar topics. The American history (and history elsewhere, whether in Great Britain or Australia) has for a long time now been presented to young people warts and all, arguably with a far greater emphasis on warts than all else, more Howard Zinn than Winston Churchill. We, on the right, have been grumbling about this imbalance for a while now – remember the former Australian Prime Minister John Howard criticising “the black armband” version of history being fed to school students – but what is happening at the moment in our education systems is worse by an order of magnitude.

Though, apparently, according to Weingarten, it’s all lies and right-wing propaganda. It’s just your garden variety discussion of race and racism, business as usual, but all those conservative extremists are trying to delegitimise it by giving it a scary new label. Critical Race Theory, the racial Marxism, is not being taught in American schools.

Well, apparently somebody at the second-largest teachers union forgot to tell somebody at the largest teachers union:

The country’s largest teachers union has moved to undermine the left-wing talking point that critical race theory is not taught to children — by voting promote it and arguing it is “reasonable and appropriate” to use CRT in social studies classes.

The National Education Association has approved a plan to “publicize” critical race theory and dedicate a “team of staffers” to assist union members looking to “fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric.”

New Business Item 39 also declares that the union opposes bans on critical race theory and the New York Times’ controversial 1619 Project – which roughly half the U.S. states have already implemented.

Additionally, the resolution calls for the union to “join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to call for a rally this year on Oct. 14 — George Floyd’s birthday — as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression.”

The third paragraph pledges to accomplish the following:

“Publicly (through existing media) convey its support for the accurate and honest teaching of social studies topics, including truthful and age-appropriate accountings of unpleasant aspects of American history, such as slavery, and the oppression and discrimination of Indigenous, Black, Brown, and other peoples of color, as well as the continued impact this history has on our current society. The Association will further convey that in teaching these topics, it is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory.”

Remember, CRT is not being taught in schools, but we’ll “publicize” it, we’ll “fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric”, and it will inform our teaching of social studies. Business Item 39, by the way, has been scrapped from the National Education Association’s website.

Critical Race Theory (like all other “critical theories”, including legal and feminist ones) uses the theoretical framework of Marxism – the struggle or warfare between two classes in society: the oppressed and the oppressors, the view that all institutions reflect the interests of the oppressors and hostility to the oppressed, concepts like false consciousness (in CRT-speak “internalised whiteness”), etc. – to achieve what traditional class-based Marxism had never managed to achieve in Western societies: motivating and animating the abolishment of capitalism and effecting a radical social transformation into a new utopia, where the oppressors have been eliminated and everyone else lives in fairness and equality happily ever after.

Somehow, despite the best and the noblest intentions, all such ambitious schemes somehow end up with gulags, mass graves, oppression and misery. Meanwhile, the far less glamourous work of gradual progress and reform grinds slowly but gets the results. Ironically, the old-style Marxism only gained popularity (such as it was) and influence just as the conditions that supposedly gave rise to it were fast disappearing. So it is today, with CRT and other modern variants of Marxism coming to the fore when the injustices of patriarchy and racism have been all but vanquished except at the edges. All this shows is that the Manichean dualism of Marxism is not the reflection of any objective reality but of the intelligencia’s need for status and power.

Leave Marxism for higher education or higher indoctrination if you must. But it is entirely legitimate to demand this extremist and divisive theory is neither taught in primary and secondary schools nor that it shapes pedagogical frameworks and techniques. Contrary to CRT’s proponents and some squishy conservatives, it’s not a freedom of speech issue either – teachers don’t have the freedom to teach the kids whatever they want; it’s the job of the curriculum to inform the content of the education, and as such it’s the parents, as voters and taxpayers, who have the ultimate say in its shape. Too many teachers now think that children and children’s minds rightly belong to them rather than to families, and that their true vocation is not to prepare new generations for life in this world but to create a New (non-gender specific) Person fit for a new one. It’s time to stand up to this unelected and unrepresentative swill – teachers too are public servants, employed and paid by the public, and if they forget that simple fact they should be promptly detached from the taxpayers’ tit and left to be activists in their own time.