Trudging through the rain this morning to retrieve my daily bread of the WSJ, I spied poking from my mailbox the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) spring/summer catalogue. Given my wife is a language-arts teacher, the existence of such a thing was not a shock; however, the content of the catalogue was. Critical race theory, antiracism, and “anti-Black linguistic racism” literature recommendations littered the pages of a publication distributed to NCTE members — predominantly public educators — teaching kindergarten through college. Don’t take my word for it; page through a digital copy yourself here. Reading through, it is apparent that CRT is being pushed down to all grades through teacher-education courses, not just graduate-level work.
Advocates of critical race theory, anti-racism, and the attendant ideologies are swift in the press to say that CRT is little more than a respected legal theory taught at the collegiate level. Yeah, so is the philosophy of Marx, but his thinking has indeed pervaded more than the stodgy corridors of academia. I somehow doubt the Reds of the USSR and the CCP all participated in group discussions and graduate-level thesis workshops parsing through the minutiae of that bearded communist. The press’s defense of “you don’t understand the theory” and “it’s not taught in grade schools” is obviously deceitful, and I’m reasonably sure they know it.
However, I wondered, perhaps I unknowingly misrepresent the NCTE’s ideological position outside of one catalogue. After all, it could be a special issue contrary to the mainstream of their suggested reading and worldview. Unfortunately not. Recent blog posts by the NCTE argue that there is no such thing as an apolitical classroom and that “English language arts teachers must examine the ways that racism has personally shaped their beliefs and must examine existing biases that feed systems of oppression.”
Featured lesson plans titled, “Developing Critical Consciousness through Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give,” consist of “[s]tudents shar[ing] their learning at key moments during reading and discussion of the novel, followed by work with excerpts from James Baldwin’s essay ‘Letter from a Region in My Mind’ and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ‘Letter to My Son.’” There is a distinct lack of Thomas Sowell, certainly a more critical thinker than the previous examples.
Lastly, if you have the stomach for it, this coming November, the NCTE’s annual convention is titled, “Equity, Justice, and Antiracist Teaching.” Suffice it to say that the NCTE is trending towards an indoctrination resource, far more than a proponent of learning through literature.