“I have begun everything with the idea that I could succeed, and I never had much patience with the multitudes of people who are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed.”
In those immortal words of the legendary American educator Booker T. Washington, we are reminded of the values in teaching the key concepts concerning success and personal responsibility.
America is a unique nation-different from any other in the history of the world.
Despite the civil, social, and economic challenges of her past, no other nation has done more to admit its mistakes, right its wrongs, and address its own shortcomings. As a result, we are the example for the world, and the lessons we have learned are reflected in what we instruct our children in school. Nowhere is that better represented than in what and how we educate concerning our nation’s history.
Unfortunately, under the guise of education, the force-feeding of revisionist history now makes its way through all levels of mainstream academia, with students as young as five years-old being the targets. Under the pseudonyms, “Culturally Based Curriculum”(CBC),or “Culturally Responsible Curriculum”(CRC), as well as the “1619 Project,” these “Critical Race Theories” have sought to unravel the very fabric on which this country was founded.
With its roots in Marxism beginning as simply “Critical Theory,” it operates on the premise of power dynamics (i.e., the haves vs. the have nots), in which those in power knowingly or unknowingly create systems that oppress those with less. However, in the mid 70’s/early 80’s, several American legal scholars, including Derrick Bell, Alan Freeman, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Cheryl Harris, and others added “race” to the theory but kept the Marxist base. As a result, it teaches our students that the principles on which this country was founded were under the premise of ostracization. In other words, the status of the oppressors and the oppressed are based solely on individual skin color.
The danger inherent in such teaching offers that every system in America has been orchestrated to demean, impute, and marginalize all non-white individuals. Even in its infancy, these “theories” were dismissed as unfounded and unsubstantiated.
While in the last few years it began to resurface to some degree, it was after the death of George Floyd that it quickly picked up steam. Parents began to receive reports from their children as well as other parents that their white children were now considered racists oppressors, and their black children were now marginalized and oppressed. Concerned parents soon flooded the emails of teachers and administrators. They showed up at schoolboard meetings, which resulted in not only the removal of schoolboard members, but it also shined a revelatory light on one of the most crucial issues.
While much of this erroneous teaching has been restricted in many schools, make no mistake, critical race theories are alive and well. Like a check engine light we choose to ignore, or a recurring bill that we have neglected to pay, CRT lies in wait, lulling parents into a false sense of security with an implied dormancy, striking when we least expect it.
The words of Mr. Washington are just as true today, as when first spoken all those years ago. One of success’s many tenets is the responsibility for one’s own actions. Our children must learn that whether they succeed or fail, they themselves hold the key. Regardless of the school or the curricula they profess to impart, we must remain vigilant. If we have learned nothing over the past two years, we should have learned that when it comes to education, we as Americans must continue to inspect what we expect.
Further, as philosopher George Santayana once said, “a child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”