On Monday night, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared with the equally unimpressive Don Lemon to expound on the use of critical race theory in K-12 education. As is typical, AOC got more wrong than she got right. Her first assertion was, of course, that critical race theory is a law school doctrine not taught in K-12 schools. It’s almost as if she doesn’t understand that almost everything that falls out of her mouth is critical theories in practice.
“Critical Race Theory is not taught in elementary school. It is barely taught in law schools, frankly, in the level that it should be taught,”
As Columbia professor John McWhorter said on a recent podcast, AOC’s assertion is uninformed or disingenuous. No parents assert that teachers present the writing of Derrick Bell and Kimberle Crenshaw to elementary school kids. When classroom lessons put their ideas into practice in the classroom, parents object.
McWhorter cited classroom tasks segregated by race that cast white as bad or oppressive and black as unable to be precise or victims. He acknowledged these ideas have crept into the classroom to varying degrees nationwide, and parents refer to them as CRT. He added:
The people who promulgate this philosophy call themselves inheriting basic principles of critical race theory. Which says among other things that for example, black people, our narrative as victims of white oppression is what defines us and is more important than the details of individual stories, such as success stories and the like.
So, all of this balkanization of white from black, in particular, it traces to those writings even though Kimberly Crenshaw and Derrick Bell were not thinking about what you do to six and seven-year-olds in the classroom.
AOC herself questions why Republicans don’t want “anti-racism” taught to children. Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo, who call themselves critical race theorists, use the term “anti-racism” to describe their ideas. Then her assertions get even dumber, claiming the debate centers on how schools teach American history:
“We should say why don’t you want our schools to teach anti-racism? Why don’t Republicans want their kids to know the tradition of anti-racism in the United States?” she said, growing increasingly frustrated. “Why are they attacking the core roots of history in this country that strays anything beyond what we already know? … Why don’t Republicans want us to learn how to not be racist? Why don’t Republicans want kids to know how to not be racist?”
McWhorter dispensed with this argument. Not wanting anti-racist ideas in the classroom is not about how we teach history:
Noble people are arguing all over the place that if you say you don’t want these anti-racist academy philosophies in a classroom that your child is in, what you’re saying is that you want American history to be taught the way it was in 1925. With a waving flag, slavery not mentioned, and everything is just fine and hunky-dory. That is utter hot smoking bull***t.
Yet, there is this whole debate going on now where the Left ignores what is going on in these classrooms. They won’t admit that all of these news reports spell something.
AOC characterizing this as a Republican issue may work on the campaign trail. However, it will appeal to people across the spectrum. In a Rasmussen poll earlier this month, 78% of voters say that it’s at least somewhat important to teach the traditional values of Western civilization. Nearly three-quarters of likely minority voters agree.
Today, another poll was released by Convention of States Action and the Trafalgar Group asking parents what the best actions to take would be if their child’s school taught using critical race theory. Nearly 40% of Republicans, 20% of Democrats, and 22% of unaffiliated respondents say parents should take their children out of those schools. This proposal is a drastic action that would significantly impact school funding on a per-child basis.
The other action parents selected was running candidates to take control of local school boards. Overall, 27% recommended that. With almost 20% declaring no opinion on the matter, acting to change the situation is more popular than teaching views at home and not interfering at school.
At the end of the interview, Professor Glenn Loury summarized McWhorter’s view of how critical race theory manifests in K-12 into a two-part definition that parent activists should embrace:
- “Separating children by race and encouraging whites to think of themselves as privileged presumptively by virtue of their race and as oppressors. And encouraging blacks to think of themselves presumptively and by virtue of their race as victims.”
- “Making this idea of countering disparities in power or influence into the central mission in life. You’re here to get an education so that you can be a warrior on the battlefield of equity, on the battlefield of social justice.”
Loury added that what parents are objecting to is identitarian philosophies and the co-opting of children into a crusade on behalf of political objectives which are not universally shared. Of course, AOC does share these political objectives. But it’s essential to note that her favorability nationally has been negative since at least 2019. The May 2021 Statista survey put her 18 points in the negative between those whose view is very favorable and very unfavorable.
In reality, of the 78% of respondents who know her, only 15% see her as a role model. She is the poster child for an education infused in critical theories that led to a career as a social justice crusader, and frankly, most parents want something else for their kids.
Watch Glen Loury and John McWhorter define critical race theory and the current K-12 debate: