"Smash Capitalism, White Supremacy, Cisheteropatriarchy and Xenophobia" are not merely words making up a slogan being chanted at the latest protest, these words are featured on the front page of James Logan High School’s Ethnic Studies and Social Justice Academy’s website.
The school’s ethnic studies program states as its guiding principles that students will "challenge and criticize power, oppression, capitalism, and white supremacy."
Liberated, or Critical, ethnic studies is being openly packaged as programming intended to "liberate" students and society from the alleged systemic racism and oppression said to permeate the United States.
While proponents claim it raises the academic performance of "marginalized" students, a recent review of the data reveals that this is not the case.
What it truly is intended to accomplish is to create a legion of young activists who are taught that the only path forward is to abolish Western culture.
The controversial curriculum focuses on breaking students down into identity categories and teaching them to view society through the lens of either the oppressor or the oppressed.
The course inundates students with content focusing primarily on how oppressive America has been to non-white populations dating as far back as 1492.
It also requires students to be actively engaged to end or abolish societal oppression.
The opening unit of the course features a focus on the individual’s various identities through the explicit teaching of intersectionality.
It seeks to tribalize learners based on immutable characteristics and categories, many of which they cannot control. The goal is to make students aware of the power dynamics associated with such categories as race, gender, social class, and religious affiliation.
This awareness, called "critical consciousness," comes directly from Paulo Freire, a devoted Marxist and one of the most cited authors in K12 education.
Once students have developed this critical consciousness, educators focus on themes such as "power" and "oppression."
One of the key concepts, John Bell’s "Four I’s of Oppression," teaches students how to see their environment as oppressive through "ideological," "institutional," "interpersonal," and "internal" frames.
The curriculum walks students through specially curated content that is intended to polarize students based on their identities.
For example, in the Stockton Unified School District (California), a 2020 draft copy of its scope and sequence features a unit titled "Identity and Narrative," which lists "Key Content" items such as "Identity Lenses," "Race and Wealth, Racial Wealth Gap," and "Introduction to Police Violence and Murders of Black and Brown Peoples."
The "Systems of Power" unit includes such topics as "Racism and Whiteness," "Institutional Racism in: Schools, Media, Police, Government, Business, Families, Religion, Military," and "White Supremacists vs. White Supremacy."
The big picture goal for the body of the curriculum is to convert students to the belief that the very foundation of America is rooted in "whiteness," and is therefore systemically racist towards all other groups.
In other words, it teaches students to believe that the fundamental organizing principle of American society is systemic racism, which is for the benefit white people.
In short, Critical Race Theory.
After students are re-educated with this new awareness or critical consciousness, they must engage in what Paulo Freire called "praxis," or the act of carrying out change.
Students are taught to utilize their newly gained awareness and curated perspective as "change agents." At both James Logan High School and Stockton Unified, students must "design, implement, and evaluate Youth Participatory Action Research Projects (YPAR) to address diverse community needs."
This includes social justice focused school wide initiatives, public awareness campaigns, and nationally focused action plans. In other words, students must become social justice activists as part of their final grade.
Ethnic studies is an open-faced campaign to turn students as young as pre-K into social justice activists. It accomplishes this goal through re-education and emotional manipulation.
As it is currently designed, sold, and bought, liberated ethnic studies has no place in school classrooms across the country.
Rhyen Staley is a researcher for Parents Defending Education, father of two school-age children, and former public and private school teacher.
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