School will be a very different place next academic year. Classes will be less full; desks, rigorously sterilized. And if the education establishment has its way, teachers will be aggressively woke.
“We are living at a time of obscene inequities, and merely trying to compensate is not enough,” the American Association of School Administrators recently announced. It called on members to “become actively anti-racist” and “ensure that cultural responsiveness permeates all levels.”
Parents might welcome this as an innocuous appeal to moral progress in the wake of a tragic injustice. But they’d be surprised by what anti-racist, culturally responsive classrooms will look like. Hint: It isn’t about treating everyone the same, like a version of the Golden Rule.
The Chicago Public School district’s “toolkit” on race and civil disobedience, for example, features an epigraph from Angela Davis, the Communist and former criminal fugitive: “In a racist society, it is not enough to not be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” The toolkit provides links to material from the Southern Poverty Law Center and directs teachers to Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist.”
Education Week’s “Classroom Q&A” blog tells teachers: “As Dr. Ibram X. Kendi would say, there is no ‘not racist.’ There is only racist and anti-racist. Your silence favors the status quo and the violently oppressive harm it does to black and brown folk everywhere.”
Anti-racism, in this worldview, doesn’t mean equal treatment of others; it is an all-encompassing ideology that demands constant questioning of one’s own actions and motives and those of others.
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