The Civil War In Our Schools: Achievement vs. Critical Race Theory
Anyone who doubts that there is a civil war raging in America, and that our schools are one
of the most important theaters in that war, should take note of the ongoing effort to recall members of the San Francisco School Board.
Conservatives might view this as one of those intramural Democrat squabbles in which we should cheer to plague our enemies, but in which we really have no need to be involved - nothing could be further from the truth.
The San Francisco School Board recall is a battle over whether America should be a meritocracy, or a society governed by the Marxist racial spoils system of Critical Race Theory – and some Democrats understand the disastrous implications if Critical Race Theory wins.
As just one example, the Board of the San Francisco-based Chinese American Democratic Club voted unanimously to donate $10,000 to support the recall effort of San Francisco School Board member Alison Collins.
Part of the impetus for the donation may have been the revelation of Alison Collins’s 2016 racist Twitter rant against Asian-Americans, but we suspect that the most important driver for the recall and the donation was the San Francisco School Board’s decision to end merit-based admissions to the city’s elite Lowell High School, where the enrollment is predominantly Asian American.
As the San Francisco Chronicle explained:
A group of parents mounting a recall effort against Collins, who is Black, as well as two other board members, uncovered the tweets and posted them late Thursday. One of the recall organizers, Siva Raj, said he shared the posts because she believes the sentiments are not acceptable, especially by someone running a school system where a third of the 52,000 students are Asian American.
It was a “naked display of prejudice and bias to the Asian community,” said Raj, whose two children attend district schools. “To cast an entire group of people as racist or having animosity, or being judgmental about them for wanting their children to have a good education or life, I find that disturbing, coming from an educator.”
The recall effort against Collins, as well as board President Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga, is being driven by parents who are upset about the ongoing closure of district schools amid the pandemic, the board’s move to change the names of 44 schools, and the vote to end merit-based admissions to Lowell High School, where the enrollment is predominantly Asian American.
Among the gems Ms. Collins tweeted was this one charging Asian Americans who want their children to get ahead by excelling in school with being house n*****s.
Ms. Raj later said in a statement that Collins’ “tweets suggest that the recent decision to permanently change Lowell High School’s merit-based admission system to a lottery system, rushed through in 5 days with barely any community input, was prejudiced by the same animosity. Asian Americans account for over 50% of Lowell’s students and are most likely to lose ground in this shift to a lottery system.”
(To give you some idea of the culture at San Francisco’s Lowell High School under the merit-based admissions system here’s a link to the upcoming documentary film Try Harder!)
But the notion of merit, which is foundational to many Asian cultures, and especially to Chinese culture, is anathema to San Francisco School Board member Alison Collins, who tweeted on April 8, 2020:
We must push back against a culture of meritocracy, of consumerism, resource-hoarding, "productivity" and individualism. Rather, we need to center connection, community-building, creativity, healing, humanizing pedagogy and justice.
Lest you think this is only a San Francisco problem – it’s not – meritocracy is under attack across the country, the war on merit is just a lot more visible in San Francisco due to its association with School Board member Alison Collins and her overt anti-Asian racism.
In Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County school system, once one of the gems of America’s public school system, discussion is underway to eliminate gifted and accelerated mathematics classes before grade 11 “to address issues of inequity.”
And as Jonathan Turley reported, Boston has followed suit with a suspension of advanced learning programs for its fourth, fifth and sixth graders.
In Boston, testing for an advanced math program has been suspended pending an investigation into the “inequities” revealed by the test scores and subsequent admissions into the program.
School Committee member Lorna Rivera said at a January meeting that she was disturbed by the findings, noting that nearly 60 percent of fourth graders in the program at the Ohrenberger school in West Roxbury are white even though most third graders enrolled at the school are Black and Hispanic. "This is just not acceptable," Rivera said at a recent school committee meeting.
In New York, a top Manhattan middle school sent parents into a rage when it announced that it was junking accelerated math classes. Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies principal Megan Adams emailed parents that “we will no longer have leveled math courses at Lab Middle School.” Lab is a feeder school to New York City’s ultra-competitive specialized high schools.
For some three thousand years ancient Greek ideas of being the best and striving for merit, what the Greeks called arete, have guided and driven Western Civilization. For as long or longer, Chinese ideas of striving for merit have influenced the cultures of Asia and driven the cultural achievements of China, Japan and the Southeast Asian societies and neighboring peoples they influenced. Now, these twin drivers of human achievement are under attack in a great civil war being fought in America’s school systems and classrooms.
We urge CHQ readers and friends to begin attending their local school board meetings, some may even be streamed online, to watch for any movement toward abandoning merit and achievement in favor of Marxist policies or Critical Race Theory practices that lower standards in the name of “equity” and a race-based spoils system.
Critical Race Theory (CRT)
San Francisco Lowell High School
School Board Elections
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten
National Education Association
race based Marxism
Alison Collins recall