Parents fight critical race theory as teacher's union commits over $127k to advance it
"If we are going to take America back, we have got to take our public school systems back," said Southlake, Texas parent and anti-CRT activist Leigh Wambsganss.
The National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor and teachers' union in the U.S., has voted to spread critical race theory as parents across the nation are fighting against it.
The union is preparing to commit $127,600 to advance critical race theory, according to the Epoch Times.
"According to the plan, the NEA will share and publicize information about 'what CRT is and what it is not,' dedicate a 'team of staffers' to assist union members who 'want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric,' and provide a study that critiques 'power and oppression' in American society, including 'white supremacy,' 'cisheteropatriarchy,' and capitalism," the news website reported.
The teachers' union's plan to promote critical race theory comes amid a growing grassroots backlash of parents fighting against the influence of the ideology on educational curriculums in their school districts.
Charles Fain Lehman, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, explained on the John Solomon Reports podcast Friday that the think tank has a toolkit for parents to understand what critical race theory is and how to push back on it.
He also discussed the work of senior fellow and director of the initiative on critical race theory at the Manhattan Institute, Christopher Rufo, highlighting two examples of Rufo's work exposing CRTin public schools: "the Philadelphia elementary school that had kids organize a black communism march in support of Angela Davis" and "the Oregon State math guidance document from the Oregon State Department of Education, which implies that math is infused with white supremacy, and that to get around it, we need to have views more African — traditional African patterns in the math classroom."
Lehman advised parents to start small when they encounter critical race theory being taught to their kids by first discussing it with the teacher. If that doesn't work, he suggested getting a few other parents to bring up the issue. If the administration doesn't listen, he recommended parents go to the media or run for their local school board.
"I think something that we're seeing right now is parents running for school board and winning school board seats, based on support for common sense education, rather than this sort of ideological craziness," said Lehman. "People forget that school boards are usually locally elected. Average school board race costs $10,000-$20,000. Nobody pays attention to them.
"[T]hese school boards are not used to democratic accountability. They're used to getting their cushy slot back every single time. They're pretty uncomfortable with new scrutiny. But there's a reason that these are democratically elected positions — ultimately, they have to be accountable to parents, and it's good that they're being held accountable to parents."
Leigh Wambsganss is one of those parents who sparked a grassroots, anti-CRT revolt in Southlake, Texas that mobilized record turnout in local school board elections to defeat pro-CRT board members by landslide margins. She explained how a Black Lives Matter splinter organization was giving a list of demands to her public school district's cultural diversity committee, including getting rid of armed school resource officers.
Even the plan the group had put together acknowledged there was no statistically significant difference in test performance among the school district's ethnic populations, according to Wambgsganss. "So if the school's job is to educate our kids," she said, "then there's your evidence that we don't need to change anything we're doing."
Critical race theory programs, Wambsganss argued, want to replace the traditional American ideal of equal opportunity with equality of outcomes and to get rid of all "the gifted and talented programs as well as the special needs programs."
In response to the orgnization's list of demands, Wambsganss said she started a website. "I just, out of my own pocket ... put together a landing page and did targeted social media ads, just shooting out what the bullet points of this plan were."
Wambsganss thought she would get a couple hundred people interested, but she got nearly 3,000 signatures. They held their first event in August 2020 and could only allow 400 people in the venue during the COVID restrictions, but she said, "We turned hundreds away."
From that event, they raised a lot of money and organized into several committees. "[W]e really divided and conquered and created an organized army," she recalled.
While Wambsganss and others working with her have been threatened, "it's like once you walk through that fire, you're untouchable," she said. "And the more national news we got and the more we were hit, the more invincible we became. Because now you can say anything, it just doesn't matter to us anymore."
She explained that parents handed their kids over to the public school system 70 years ago, and Democrats got involved while Republicans didn't. "If we are going to take America back," Wambsganss said, "we have got to take our public school systems back. And the only way you're going to do that is win your school board elections."