The gains made by Republicans on the state and local levels were fueled in part with schooling issues that voters believed were an overreach when it comes to race relations.
State Sens. Joe Pennacchio (R-26) and Michael Testa (R-1) are offering a bill addressing those concerns at the same time the national party looks to capitalize to recapture Congress. The GOP lawmakers proposed law would prevent critical race theory (CRT) from being taught in New Jersey public schools as well as prohibit public schools teachers from engaging in political, ideological, or religious advocacy in their classrooms.
“Every student should be empowered through lessons emphasizing the opportunity they have to succeed through their own hard work, individual merit, and the personal character they demonstrate to others,” said Pennacchio (R-26) in a press statement Nov. 16. “That’s wholly incompatible with critical race theory, which would indoctrinate students with the limiting belief that people are inherently privileged, oppressive, racist, sexist, or morally deficient due to little more than the circumstances of their birth.”
At its roots, CRT is an academic examination by civil-rights scholars and activists focusing the intersection of race and law in the United States. CRT examines social, cultural, and legal issues related to race and racism, arguing that racism and disparate racial outcomes are the result of complex, changing, and often subtle social and institutional dynamics, rather than explicit and intentional prejudices of individuals.
As the profile of CRT has risen in the last year, Republican lawmakers have introduced across the nation to ban it from being taught in the classroom. In the legislation being proposed in New Jersey, it would prohibit a school district from teaching CRT as part of a curriculum, course of instruction, or through supplemental instructional materials that promote concepts related to CRT.
For the purposes of the bill, CRT includes, but is not limited to, the following concepts:
- one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
- an individual, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;
- an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of their race or sex;
- an individual’s moral character is determined by their race or sex;
- an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of their race or sex;
- a meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex;
- ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of their race or sex;
“Critical race theory is a thinly-veiled effort to legitimize discrimination under the guise of an intellectual social theory,” said Testa. “Our legislation ensures that New Jersey’s public schools will not teach students that it’s okay to judge others or themselves or to treat people differently based on broad stereotypes that some inappropriately ascribe to an entire race or gender. We believe every person deserves to be treated as an individual.”
The bill’s sponsors noted the legislation does not prohibit the impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history or discussion of the historical oppression of a particular group of people. It also doesn’t prevent teaching about an ethnic group or historical documents.
A school district that knowingly violates the CRT provisions of the legislation could have its State school aid withheld until it is no longer in violation, under the bill.
Testa pushed the notion that critical race theory isn’t the only way classrooms are used to push left-wing ideologies on impressionable young students, making arguments that academic use their authority within to present their own beliefs on controversial issues as fact and to silence or punish students who dare disagree.
Restricting Teacher Viewpoints
“Our legislation prohibits teachers from pushing their political viewpoints in the classroom,” said Testa. “They must be impartial and teach different perspectives when discussing controversial topics, and they should not delve into those topics if they’re not relevant to the subject matter of the course.”
For that purpose, the legislation proposed requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules and regulations prohibiting public school teachers from engaging in political, ideological, or religious advocacy in the classroom.
The state board would be require teachers to provide students with materials supporting both sides of a controversial issue being addressed to present both sides in a fair-minded and nonpartisan manner. Additionally, the board would adopt clear guidelines for enforcement and provide penalties for violations up to and including termination of employment.
“Public school teachers have an obligation to help students learn the fundamental skills and knowledge they’ll need to be successful throughout life,” added Pennacchio. “In many classrooms, however, we’ve heard of teachers engaging in political advocacy and pushing partisan ideologies when they should have been teaching math, science, history, and literacy.”
“Our legislation will prevent unnecessary and inappropriate distractions that steal from instruction time. Ensuring that classroom discussions remain focused on core topics will be good for students.”
The state legislation comes as Republican lawmakers nationally try to capitalize on their success in the November election, including holding an event in Washington to voice their opposition to mask mandates and lessons about racism in public schools. After the social justice protests during the summer of 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd, coupled with the New York Times publication of the “1619 Project,” schools have attempted to incorporate teaching about slavery and race in the classroom.
The ranking Republican on the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, said the GOP would continue to push for parental rights in the classroom across the U.S., as crucial midterm elections loom in 2022.
Julie Gunlock, a parent from northern Virginia and the director of the conservative Independent Women’s Network, told those gathered it was just the beginning of a mission that members plan to expand across the country to challenge the government’s role in public schools.
“Not all parents have the ability to make these changes and embrace these opportunities, which is why I’m fighting for public schools,” Gunlock said, despite none of her children attending public schools—two attend a Catholic school and another is homeschooled. “I’m here to send a message to the government that I am in charge of my kids, and it’s time that they took a seat and stayed in their lane.”
Voluntary ignorance, including suppression of a valid higher-education study, is not the way to a good education. I suggest that a better way is to teach CRT – if that’s even necessary – from all viewpoints. Ignorance is not bliss. Better yet, just practice the equality of all people every day. It shouldn’t be all that hard, should it?
There is a vast difference between college-level education where the very point is to debate and challenge ideas in order to develop critical thinking. That is NOT the purpose of K-12 education which is to provide every student with the ability to read, write, do some arithmetic and to expose students to the vast scope of knowledge — science, technology, history, literature, civics — so that each student can be a useful and productive member of society.
The general failure of the public school systems to achieve these basic goals means that K-12 students don’t have the fundamental background, training or intellectual development — critical thinking — to engage in sophisticated analysis such as CRT. More importantly, without the fundamentals, K-12 students will be unable to resist indoctrination, argue intelligently for and against various aspects of CRT or engage in healthy debate. Keep CRT where it belongs (in universities) and focus K-12 on the basics.
CRT is a law school level legitimate course. These Republicans are human garbage trying to scare edgy white folks and racists of which NJ has its share into thinking CRT is designed to make white kids feel uncomfortable in their whiteness. Knowing our true history should make people feel somewhat uncomfortable. Segregation was within my life time. Not that long ago. Want to know uncomfortable? We bought our home from one of the few Black families in our town and I’ll tell you what “uncomfortable” is: it’s when the police pull up in a squad car next to their 10 year old son who’s walking around town and they say to him, “What are you doing around here?” That’s “uncomfortable”. Two people running for our school board sent around the race baiting CRT garbage. They lost. So there’s some progress. These two clowns should get lost with their CRT scare tactics.
No one teaches CRT in grade school. These clowns are exploiting fear. That’s all they’ve got. Meanwhile when I was in grade school I was taught that Columbus discovered America. That’s nonsense. But I wasn’t taught about Emit Till or the Tulsa OK white race riots. I learned about Till from a Bob Dylan song and the Tulsa white race riots only recently. I think 6th graders are old enough for that truth. These clowns would try to restrict that I’m sure.
No one teaches CRT in grade school?? Only in Uni?!?
Do live under a rock??
Basically, the anti-CRT folks are afraid that kids will learn actual history, and would prefer to whitewash it to mitigate their ancestors’ responsibility.
Since CRT is not currently taught in any New Jersey schools, I question the motives of Senator Pinocchio. Perhaps he should stick his long nose into things that he understands and not grandstand his ignorance to score points with those even more ignorant than he is.
CRT! Communism! Socialism! Sodomy! Keep riling up your base, Senator Pinocchio.
As I continue to listen to the ever growing debate on teaching CRT, I am compelled to reflect on the years our daughter spent in law school and of her sharing her research on racism, with Critical Race Theory endemic in truth. Contrary to the abject ignorance of opposing ideologies, CRT is not encapsulated into individual prejudice and bigotry, nor is it an overt attempt at “white shaming”. It is, and always has been, the acknowledgement of pervasive systemic racisim.
Have you ever wondered why black and brown neighborhoods abut factory areas and toxic hot spots? It was designed that way. Deliberate legislation enacted to disable the ability of our people of color to acquire mortgages elsewhere is only one small portion of environmental racism.
How many US citizens are aware of the struggles of Senator Cory Booker’s parents upon attempting to move to my hometown of Harrington Park in the early 1970s? They were compelled to enlist the help of a “stand in” white couple in order to secure the sale. Cory went on to graduate from Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan, Stanford University and then Queens College, Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. But because of residential racism (the color of their skin), the family was nearly excluded from a comfortable, suburban life. Funny how Cory is now exalted as a “Harrington Park, homegrown “son”.
Now let’s examine medical and insurability racisim. Yes, that very much exists. Ever wonder why women of color have such poor healthcare, higher infant mortality rates and astronomically high mortality rates, and if any health insurance at all? It was designed that way. Even today, we witness the racist beliefs that people of color don’t carry the same worth as a white person. It may not be overt in some cases, but it is always a covert factor.
Now lets look at educational racism. In most cases, when a new school is being constructed, it is for the white kids. The children of color are relegated to dilapidated buildings with toxic mold, lead paint and substandard materials and curricula. How is this possible? Essentially your zip code dictates funding because in higher eschelon schools such as Ridgewood, the tax base provides the funding for their devoted commitment to education.
In Newark, as an example, the airport, government buildings, churches and more, pay no taxes hence urban ratables equate to a lower tax base. In Paterson alone, a substantial number of schools were built before 1900. Upon examination of the racial makeup of both aforementioned cities, they are our brothers and sisters of color. Why in those urban areas? It was designed that way.
How about institutional racism in the criminal justice system? Why are blacks more likely to be incarcerated than whites? Because it was designed that way. Blacks comprise 3.8% of our population, yet are 38.3%of the prison population according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Convictions surpass those of whites and amount to a 20% longer sentence. As studies by USSC.GOV indicated, the disparity rests largely with the judges meting out the sentences. Why is this endemic to the justice system across the nation? It was designed that way.
Now there still exists visceral racism which claims the superiority of whiteness and Eurocentrism. We rebuilt Germany but the hell with Chicago, Detroit etc. because the government never funded those areas of color. Why? By design.
Of course I could go on and on, but my last point is the military. How is it that people of color have bravely fought and died in protection of our nation, but upon returning home found a systemically racist nation awaiting them? The decorated soldiers who were finally “somebodies” went back to being “nobodies”. How was that possible? It was designed that way.
So for anyone to discount the need for this curricula to be taught most particularly in high school and college, then ignorance and hatred will continue to flourish unchecked and unabated. We own this history in the same way we own slavery and the forced Relocation of our First Nation People. Lastly, bigots despise truth. May it be taught.
We should also be aware the context of slavery in the period of before our Civil War. It was common arising from capture in war, crimes, failure to pay debts, and civil offenses. And it lasted longer in the North than is commonly known: in New Jersey, some Africans were enslaved as late as 1865. (In New York, they were all freed by 1827.)
In our time if a person cannot pay a debt it is often forgiven, think college expenses. So we who do not incur the debt are the slaves paying the debts. I don’t want to be a slave, and do not want my children of grandchildren to be slaves.
CRT is not taught in grade school. Those opposed to it want to continue to teach a watered down version of history. I was born raised and educated in this state. There are so many things that I had to learn on my own that I should have learned. Most of which I learned in college. I knew nothing about the Tulsa Massacre other than the fact that it happened. I knew nothing about Juneteenth. These are things that kids need to learn.
The fear train was started by one man who spread misinformation and admitted that he knows nothing about Critical Race Theory. It’s a shame that people don’t do their own research anymore. They just believe whatever they see on TV or read on the internet.
Seems like Republicans don’t have the slightest clue as to what Academic Freedom encompasses.
Shit, I thought he was talking about a cathode ray tube. He is an ass hole in any case.
re: Cathode Ray Tube – Showing your age, perhaps? LOL. But good one! And yes, on your ASS-essment. 😀
We have learned one thing: Unless laws are in place, ambitious people playing identity politics will try to indoctrinate our children. Stop it already with legislation.
1: CRT doesn’t actually teach these things. 2: I doubt these provisions will ever be used to stop right-wingers from teaching their prejudices.
High school students are perfectly capable of reading the declarations of secession and coming to the conclusion that the only “right” the Confederacy cared about was the “right” to own slaves. High schools students are perfectly capable of looking at the location of Superfund sites and pipelines and coming to the conclusion that environmental racism is real. For years, conservatives shouted that they wanted K12 schools to teach kids “how to think, not what to think.” Now that we are starting to teach kids how to use primary sources (rather than myths enshrined in Texas-approved textbooks) to analyze and reflect on our history, conservatives claim that we can’t possibly expose K12 students to “controversy” such as whether or not our history is steeped in racism…
WELL NOW; Schools already have done enough Damage to the young & impressionable!! BY Not really helping to stem the tides 0f injustices like BULLYING, Pier Pressuring, Ridiculing those unfortunate & by estranging Poorer students!! AND; Many 0ther issues had bin witnessed by Teacher’s & school staff, but either Not reported 0r’n Nothing was done about them.. NOW, There always have been Problem Students & this should be easily addressed, but isn’t.!! Cliques & Gang’s are just another form of Protectionism needed by students to survive!! 0ur Schools are in as much troubles as 0ur Country is today; And maybe they have a lot in common..//