Last week, the National Education Association held its annual meeting. It was filled with the usual twaddle that NEA activists talk about when they get together, but there was one useful thing it accomplished for the nation. It admitted that Critical Race Theory (CRT) was not only taught in schools; protecting the ability of teachers to conduct struggle sessions by humiliating and intimidating their young charges into submission was a top priority. This is what was termed Business Item 39:
The NEA will, with guidance on implementation from the NEA president and chairs of the Ethnic Minority Affairs Caucuses:
A. Share and publicize, through existing channels, information already available on critical race theory (CRT) — what it is and what it is not; have a team of staffers for members who want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric; and share information with other NEA members as well as their community members.
B. Provide an already-created, in-depth, study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.
C. Publicly (through existing media) convey its support for the accurate and honest teaching of social studies topics, including truthful and age-appropriate accountings of unpleasant aspects of American history, such as slavery, and the oppression and discrimination of Indigenous, Black, Brown, and other peoples of color, as well as the continued impact this history has on our current society. The Association will further convey that in teaching these topics, it is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory.
D. Join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to call for a rally this year on October 14—George Floyd’s birthday—as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression. Followed by one day of action that recognize and honor lives taken such as Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and others. The National Education Association shall publicize these National Days of Action to all its members, including in NEA Today.
E. Conduct a virtual listening tour that will educate members on the tools and resources needed to defend honesty in education including but not limited to tools like CRT.
F. Commit President Becky Pringle to make public statements across all lines of media that support racial honesty in education including but not limited to critical race theory.
The union has also approved funding for “increasing the implementation” of CRT in K-12 curricula and for attacking conservative groups who oppose CRT indoctrination.
The teachers union has made critical race theory its #1 priority—and want to implement it nationwide. pic.twitter.com/QaeTBouTf2
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) July 4, 2021
Why is this so useful? Because ever since the debate erupted over teaching Critical Race Theory premises in public schools, the defenders of Critical Race Theory, the left, and sad, pathetic creatures at The Bulwark have been insisting that a) the critics don’t know what CRT is and b) even if they did know, it doesn’t matter because CRT is only taught at the university level. This is sort of like the way legendary Texas lawyer Richard “Racehorse” Haynes says you defend a client everyone knows to be guilty: “My dog doesn’t bite. And second, in the alternative, my dog was tied up that night. And third, I don’t believe you really got bit. And fourth, I don’t have a dog.”
As Reason’s Robby Soave notes, in a roundabout way, it also marks a real win for conservatives on this issue. The NEA accepted what we have been calling CRT as, well, CRT.
The public debate over critical race theory (CRT) is in large part a semantics argument, with the anti-CRT faction attempting to include “all of the various cultural insanities” people hear about in the media under the banner of CRT while the other side protests that it’s technically a much more limited concept confined to elite education. Progressives are essentially correct that the definition of CRT is being tortured to match conservative grievances, but conservatives are justified in feeling aggrieved by some of these things, and thus the argument is quite tedious.
That said, the National Education Association (NEA) appears to have accepted the conservative framing of CRT: namely, that it’s not merely confined to academia but is in fact also being taught in K-12 schools. And the NEA thinks this is a good thing that should be defended.
This is no small matter, given that many progressives have rested their entire defense of CRT on the idea that it’s a very narrowly defined aspect of elite law school training. Judd Legum, formerly of ThinkProgress, has said the notion that CRT is taught in K-12 schools is a lie. During an extended and furiously unproductive debate on the subject, MSNBC’s Joy Reid accused Manhattan Institute scholar Christopher Rufo—the leading anti-CRT activist—of “making up your own thing, labeling it something that already existed as a name, slapped that brand name on it, and turned it into a successful political strategy.”
As this post went live, an amazing thing happened.
So, shortly after I published this, the National Education Association took down the web page showing the org’s vote in favor of critical race theory. https://t.co/34KKCUWIVb
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) July 6, 2021
That’s right. If you look for Business Item 39 on the NEA website, https://ra.nea.org/business-item/2021-nbi-039/, you find the page has been scrubbed. The copy posted in this article is from the Wayback Machine.
What purpose was served by deleting an item the NEA voted to approve in a meeting viewed by thousands of people? The obvious answer is that the battle over the definition of CRT is not over for some on the left, and the NEA acknowledging that they are pushing CRT undercuts the argument that no such problem exists. Nevertheless, two equally large lessons for us can be drawn from this episode. The first is that CRT is a major focus of NEA activity, and, as Ron White says, that’s a handy piece of information to have.
The second thing is that we can expect the NEA to change course and begin to relentlessly lie about their advocacy for CRT.
All of this goes to show that we are in a total war for the minds of our children. If we don’t fight it by running for office and passing laws outlawing racism as a teaching technique, we will lose this nation and deserve to do so.