By Laura Zorc and Susan Mehiel
The Progressive Left figured out long ago that if they can control the education of children, then they can build a national acceptance of a socialistic, big government country. The key to this acceptance, they found, is controlling the curricula used in public schools.
When Barack Obama was elected president, education elites moved into high gear. This was their chance to take over public education from the top down, despite the fact that education management is largely regarded as the responsibility of the states.
The advent of Common Core (CC) was a boon for the government-run education monopoly. University professors and consultants quickly became “experts” in the new CC standards they had developed, and cash flowed as every state had to design new standards, textbooks, and tests.
The public school system, which was once made up of local teachers preparing lesson plans with tried and true methods, became a multibillion-dollar industry for everyone from book publishers to universities to nonprofits to teachers unions.
Though the education elites who engineered common core may be great at staying the course, they misjudged what the American people wanted. Millions of parents across the country despised common core. The backlash was strong as parent groups called on school boards and state legislators to stop the common core nightmare.
Though many parent groups found success in blocking common core in their home states, the education monopoly was undeterred. Leftist academics and activists returned to the drawing board and came up with what is called Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). SEL became the cover for socialist driven conditioning; after all, who could argue with wanting kids to explore their feelings? What’s wrong with students understanding social injustices? Government education strayed from teaching kids how to problem solve and seek objective truth and started to become student-centered, emotionally charged, and relativistic.
Learning from their mistakes, the education elites skipped federal and state acceptance and went straight to their partners and corporate publishers, directing new curricula to be embedded with SEL and social justice programming. Progressives started to use teachers and textbooks to condition kids to react positively to social justice concepts and Marxist visions–telling children that something will be good for their family or good for their community and that they should like it, and taking advantage of their emotional vulnerability to gain their favor.
“If ending all fossil fuel usage would be good for the world, then we should stop using it. If more taxes will help our schools, then taxes should be raised. If better wages will help my family, then companies should pay more taxes. We should accept everyone’s lifestyle if it makes them happy; there is no right way or wrong way to live.” This is how easy it is to convince a six-year-old that big government is not only benevolent, but necessary.
If common core has paved the way for social-emotional learning, then SEL has paved the way for critical race theory, the latest way in which big government socialism is being championed in schools. Never letting a crisis go to waste, progressives used the BLM riots leading up to the 2020 election as an excuse to swiftly implement CRT in K-12 curricula over the past year.
According to CRT, teachers have to accept that they will always be racist, regardless of good intent, and need reprogramming. Who would be foolish enough to disagree? Never mind the fact that good teachers everywhere already consider the emotional natures and socio-economic backgrounds of their students without the government prescribing a plan for them to do so.
But despite reprogramming, the country will never be ‘cured’ of systemic racism–that’s what CRT teaches. The way to address (though never eradicate) racism, according to CRT, is for the government to embrace socialism and institute permanent benefits and positions for minorities.
What we face today is the dual threat of CRT and SEL making their way into our children’s lessons and indoctrinating them with Marxist and social justice ideologies. The wealthy education elite will fight to keep billions in soft money flowing while their march toward socialism, initiated by Obama-era common core standards, continues.
It will take a strong army of parents and patriots to disrupt this march. We can start by electing pro-freedom school board members and even running for office ourselves. We can also protest industry experts, consultants, nonprofits, and teachers unions, and petition our state legislatures.
But whatever we do, we need to do it now. For our children’s sake, let’s not wait another day to get involved on the ground and make our opposition to the socialist march loud and clear.
Laura Zorc is the director of education reform at FreedomWorks and leader of Building Education for Students Together (BEST), a national parent-led movement to build, educate, and mobilize the largest network of parent activists in the country to advocate for education freedom. Susan Mehiel is a BEST partner and parent activist.