Monday, May 03, 2021

Comment on Biden's Proposed Educational Priorities

Biden is proposing (in effect) preferentially giving grants to programs that teach Critical Race Theory.

Here is the regulation propoal. You can comment through May 19, 2021:

Proposed Priorities: American History and Civics Education

What Some GOP Senators have said against it.

Here is a sample comment (in bold) if you want to object to Biden's attempt to encourage Critical Race Theory in schools through grants:

Regarding Federal Register Regulation 2021-08068, Proposed Priorities: American History and Civics Education, I am very concerned about the implications of Proposed Priority 1, which regards incorporating “diversity.”

These sorts of proposals usually involve trying to use the lens of contemporary racial politics as the primary way to understand every historical issue. The general goal of most “diversity” education is the denigration of western culture, the demonizing of people of European heritage, and the discouragement of a sense of pride and loyalty to the United States as a historical entity. Rather than developing a sense of patriotism and national unity, they serve to encourage resentment and division in some students, and a sense of shame and guilt in others.

First of all, the lauding of the 1619 Project as an example of the kind of scholarship that we should strive to emulate is concerning. In addition to making many factually suspect claims, the 1619 Project which seems intent on overemphasizing one aspect of our country as the central fact of our country, effectively using our history to push a partisan, sectarian agenda under the guise of fairness.

Quoting Ibram X. Kendi is also a red flag, as he has explicitly called for racial discrimination against those whom he sees as “privileged” as the way to combat racism. The idea that racist policies are “the cause of racial inequities” rather than “one cause” is of great concern, because it suggests that no inquiry into other causes will be allowed. Kendi does not seem interested in looking holistically into race relations, but only in looking at ideas that reinforce the view that white bigotry is the only cause of racial inequities and therefore any attempt to correct them must focus on punishing whites.

My concerns regarding the five sub-priorities (a-e) of priority 1:
(a) The term systemic biases tends to imply that only certain biases will be examined and corrected for. I am concerned that the real effect here will be to denigrate the perspectives of whites and to exalt only the perspectives of minorities rather than trying to find the truth in between.
(b) “Incorporating diverse perspectives” is fine if the idea is to get all sides of an issue, or that one’s race, ethnicity, etc. should not be a barrier on analyzing an issue. However, I am concerned that the goal here is going to be to try to find a racial angle on every topic discussed, which can distract from teaching the topic at hand.
(c) Again, I am concerned that this is just about injecting modern identity politics into every issue instead of looking at the issues as they existed at the time.
(d) I am concerned here that the goal of validating and reflecting “the diversity, identities, and experiences of all students” in practice means distorting history to appeal to students.
(e) Again, I am concerned that “identity-safe” learning environments means environments where students in “protected” groups are never challenged and students in non-protected groups are derided.
As for Proposed Priority 2, I agree in principle with teaching students to examine their biases and to be aware of misinformation. However, I am concerned that any program to deal with this must look at the biases of those who created the program, and make certain that it does not only teach students to identify bias on one side, or that the program creates a narrative and only looks for misinformation if it contradicts the narrative.

We need to examine our biases when looking for bias, and any program promoting “informational literacy” needs to tell students to question the program itself.


That is all.