Monday, July 5, 2021

In Case You Missed It – July 5, 2021

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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Critical Race Theory (CRT) again tops our list of articles. This week we read opionions that the outcry against CRT mimics the brainwashing of Orwell's "1984" as well as the Communist Chinese method of eliminating "bad thoughts" through "reeducation."

Muzzling America’s Teachers with a Ban on Critical Race Theory is What Orwell Warned Us About

Steven Singer relates the proposed bans against teaching CRT to the thought control in Orwell's book, "1984."

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
I first read George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” while in high school almost a decade past its titular date.

At that time, it didn’t seem to be a prediction. It seemed to be a description of life in the Soviet Union.

I never would have guessed that it could be a warning of what the public school system could become in this country if Republican lawmakers have their way.

Far right legislators have proposed bans on so-called Critical Race Theory in at least 20 states that would muzzle classroom teachers from discussing racism and other “controversial” and “divisive” topics or risk being disciplined, fired or facing other legal consequences if they don’t obey.

It is an attempt to legislate history.

These lawmakers are working to control information and let politics – not facts – be the guiding principle of what gets accepted in our chronicle of the past.

Those of us who’ve read “1984” have seen this before.

CRT Warriors Are Coming For Individual Teachers

As they rail against Communist China, anti-CRT activists try to "purge people with Bad Thoughts" just like they claim the Chinese do. Peter Greene is insightful as usual.

From Curmudgucation
It's getting ugly, and it's getting ugly quickly, and schools and teachers may be wary that we're very close to the pitchforks and torches stage. The fact that many of these groups are ill-informed and spectacularly hypocritical ("They want to make this like Communist China," say the activists trying to implement a Cultural Revolution style purge of people with Bad Thoughts) is not going to matter a whit. Nor is "we don't teach CRT" a defense, because just about anything, from "equity" to "social emotional learning" is a sign you're Up To Something. It remains to be seen how many schools are going to be razed over this. Maybe , just maybe, these mobs are going to turn out to be reasonable people who just want to talk and who understand that serious, responsible people can have many views of CRT, and who understand that teachers want what's best for their students. I really don't like to be an alarmist. But right now it's not looking good.

Republicans Adopt China’s Approach to Indoctrinating Students

This article was not on our social media last week. It was posted on Independence Day, but it repeats the insight of Peter Greene's post above -- the anti-CRT activists claim that China is a threat while insisting on the same sort of strategy to control the teaching of history in the US.

From Paul Thomas
While many conservatives and Republicans have tried to frame China as some sort of threat to the American way of life — notably related to the spread of Covid — the truth is that the Republican Party is practicing China’s indoctrination strategies across the country.

One More Lens

Peter Greene's second post in today's list. In this he beautifully describes the advantage of looking at history through more than one "lens."

From Curmudgucation
If you have just one lens with which to view the world, that's part of who you are, and anything that challenges that lens challenges your identity. And there is almost nothing that people will fight harder to defend.

The tension between single and multiple lenses has always been part of our country, and it has certainly always been part of how we talk about and do education. For some folks, education is about giving students experience using that One True Lens and keeping it polished. You can see it in the people who have been complaining for the past several years that they don't students taught all that bias and stuff--just the facts. As if there's a set of objectively true historical facts that look exactly the same no matter what, because the only lens is the "facts" lens. Having just one lens means never having to say you're biased.

The other education approach is to, in effect, try to give students fluidity with the greatest possible number of lenses, as well as some skill in figuring out which ones work best when. This, for one lensers, is what indoctrination is all about--teaching students that there's more than one way to read the world.

Honesty on critical race theory

Public education activist and education historian, Diane Ravitch, who celebrated her 82nd birthday on July 1, writes about the stream of racism flowing through the history of our country and how important it is to learn from history, not ignore it.

From Diane Ravitch in the New York Daily News
...a nation can’t escape the sins of its past without confronting them directly. Grade school children should learn about the heroes of all races and ethnicities who helped to build our democratic institutions. High school students should learn about the crimes committed against Black people, the treatment of them as less than human, the lynchings, the massacres. This is not harmful to students, as Republicans claim. It is a necessary reckoning with our nation’s past. Democracy and unity must be built on honesty, not lies and ignorance.

Educated spending

Fort Wayne Community Schools has received funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to help at-risk students affected by the pandemic.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Schools are seeing a cash infusion of almost $123 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act : the largest federal investment in education in U.S. history. A great deal of money flows to northeast Indiana through public, private and parochial schools serving at-risk students, where officials must show the money is used to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike state funds that have increasingly ignored individual student needs, the latest round of COVID-19 relief money is allocated to target at-risk students, those from households that likely bore the worst of the pandemic's effects. While it resulted in wide discrepancies in who will get the money, it promises to go a long way in addressing long-standing inequity in school funding.

Kathy Friend, chief financial officer for Fort Wayne Community Schools, said the district's 100.8 million federal allocation "takes your breath away." Only Indianapolis Public Schools, with 135.9 million, received more.

"But I think we have found a way to spend it on things that are important for our district that we just wouldn't have been able to consider without this money," Friend said of the funds, which must be appropriated by the fall of 2024.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


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