If the system’s so rotten, why shouldn’t kids escape?
It’s plain that many of the prominent radicals in an ongoing Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction speaker series about racial “equity” have a problem less with individuals than with the whole system.
Makes you wonder why they so oppose children escaping that system.
The series of day-long webinars, four per school year, is an initiative of the DPI, the regulator of every Wisconsin school. The agency says it doesn’t necessarily endorse everything said by every one of the academics it invites, but since racial equity is the first quality it mentions in its mission statement, one can see why 2,500 people signed up last school year to hear what was said under the sponsorship of the agency that controls Wisconsin teachers’ licenses.
One clear theme is the installing of a new definition of racism, one most Americans do not agree with, one that says racism isn’t an injustice committed by an individual who treats some people worse on account of their skin but, rather, the inescapable structure of American society.
This “structural racism” idea — “Racism Without Racists,” to quote the title of a book by one of the series’ regular speakers — leads to some remarkable conclusions.
It means, said the book’s author, Duke University sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, that when white people don’t racially discriminate, it’s “color-blind racism,” a “covert, subtle or even unconscious” evil.
Next spring, the series will feature Ibram X. Kendi, the best-selling author who preaches that society must go out of its way to treat some people worse than others on account of their race, to make things even. In January, it features Robin DiAngelo, famous for accusing any objectors to such a new order of being afflicted with “white fragility.” She’ll discuss her latest book, which says white Americans who try hard to treat minorities fairly are really “nice racists” who, if they avoid giving offense, are guilty of racist “carefulness.”
Calling for a reboot
On it goes, webinar after webinar, telling Wisconsin educators that society and its schools are systemically rotten, filled with people afflicted from birth with a toxic “whiteness.” The obvious conclusion is that such a system must go, root and branch, and speakers say as much.
“We’re in a revolutionary situation,” said frequent star speaker Bettina L. Love to Wisconsin educators last spring, quoting James Baldwin before opining that “racism and capitalism go hand in hand,” saying, “Oh, power must be reallocated,” and calling for a “reconstruction of a whole society.”
She’ll start, however, with schools. In May, Love previewed her upcoming book, and she’ll be back in October to explain more of why she thinks all education reform since 1980 has been a wicked scam, a “white rage” backlash that must be undone with $2 trillion in reparations.
She distills a regular theme of speakers in the DPI’s series: that all the accountability, character education, phonics, back-to-basics, and especially options for families such as charter schools and school choice, are malicious distractions meant to keep schools from serving as seedbeds of social revolution.
If it’s rotten…
Love correctly indicts the public school system for doing a poor job of educating black children — the majority-black Milwaukee Public Schools have left more than half their 8th-graders illiterate, for instance. Some sort of change is needed.
What’s puzzling is why Love and so many other speakers in the series show such antipathy for the mechanism that reallocates power from this miserable system toward parents and educators who want better. Wisconsin’s independent choice schools and its public charter schools have drawn about 70,000 children, two-thirds of them non-white, and the programs are old enough to have piled up an undeniable record of better outcomes. Why do so many speakers in the DPI’s equity series oppose this?
Put it another way: If you really believe that American society is a structurally oppressive system, and that the government-run schools at the center of that society are so infested with systemic racism that they’re “spirit-murdering” minority children, why would you oppose parents taking their children out of such horror? Why would you compel all parents to entrust their kids to such a system?
I’d expect any answer to be couched in academic jargon: Love is a professor at Columbia University’s elite Teachers College, DiAngelo teaches at a big education school, and so do many other speakers. The series, it bears repeating, is put on by the agency that regulates teacher preparation in Wisconsin. Under the jargon is a simple reality: In public education, these people are the system.
So you can see how, after their long march to institutional control of K-12 education, that these progressives wouldn’t want kids getting away without being recruited into the revolution.
But I can’t see why parents shouldn’t be able to opt for a school that instead will teach their kids to read.
Patrick McIlheran is the Director of Policy at the Badger Institute. Permission to reprint is granted as long as the author and Badger Institute are properly cited.