Article
December 2, 2021

A Pro-Parent Education Agenda

Coalition calls on states to increase transparency and end critical race theory in schools.

by Christopher F. Rufo

Parents in Virginia and across America are acutely aware of the cultural changes taking place in society, most notably occurring in public schools. We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, believe that state lawmakers should empower parents with insight and influence over their child’s education. 

We therefore call for state legislators to enact policies that families and students desperately need to reject the racial prejudice inherent in Critical Race Theory, maximize transparency around what is taught in K-12 classrooms, and secure education choice.

In other words, policymakers must listen to the voices of the parents who spoke in this past election.

Every generation is responsible for transmitting the lesson that America offers equality under the law and the opportunity for human flourishing to everyone regardless of their race, ethnicity, or country of origin.

Public schools are a crucial setting where children should be taught this lesson.

Schools occupy a unique place in their local communities as the institutions where policy and culture meet: Lawmakers provide taxpayer resources to teachers with the implicit understanding that they will impart lessons about reading, writing, and math, along with equality under the law, to their students. We trust the children learning these lessons to apply what they learn as they become the new parents, neighbors, employees, and lawmakers.

Around the country, however, many professional associations and some educators are betraying taxpayers and parents, not infrequently with the support of policymakers. They do so by supplementing lessons about math and reading and civic responsibilities with intolerant, racially discriminatory pedagogy. 

An avowedly Marxist worldview known as “critical theory” has spread within American culture. Over the past several decades, its racially biased application, Critical Race Theory, which “questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law” has taken root. The goal of CRT, according to the discipline’s own godfather, was that “scholarly resistance will lay the groundwork for wide-scale resistance.” Critical Race Theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings, the professor credited by NPR with bringing CRT to education, has declared that it’s hard to find a social studies textbook that doesn’t include or promote these concepts.

Parents have appropriately been shocked to discover content advocating for racial discrimination in their children’s classroom. They deserve transparency around what is taught in the schools they fund and that their children attend.

This year, ten states passed legislation to reject CRT. In 2022, state lawmakers should continue to protect teachers and students from bigotry and consider proposals that reject the application of CRT in K-12 schools, enforcing the protections inherent in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Conservatives should continue to promote a relentlessly pro-parent agenda, providing families with greater insight and influence, by adopting the following: 

  1. No teacher or student should be compelled to affirm, believe, profess, or adhere to any idea that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 
  2. No course of instruction or unit of study may direct or otherwise compel students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to any idea that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  3. No school shall contract for teacher professional development with providers who promote racially essentialist doctrines and practices that have been held to violate the Civil Rights Act.
  4. A private individual may bring a right of action against any public institution engaged in racial discrimination.
  5. Public school officials should give all members of the public comprehensive access in-person and online to school curricular materials including syllabi, lists of textbooks, and teacher-created assignments and books, worksheets, along with content that educators use for teacher professional development training sessions. Parents should be able to see, at-a-glance online, what their children are being taught. State officials should bolster their sunshine laws to stop school districts from stonewalling parents’ public records requests.
  6. Public school board elections should be held on-cycle—in the same years and at the same time as the election for the highest office in a given state. When school board elections are held with general elections, school board members more closely reflect the preferences of their constituents.
  7. Provide every K-12 student and their family with the ability to choose how and where a child learns. Policymakers should empower families with the ability to choose a new public or private school for their child or to customize their child’s education with an education savings account.

Lawmakers should defend parents, taxpayers, voters, and children from prejudice. In 2022, public school officials must work relentlessly to provide parents and students with transparency over public school materials. America should be defined as a nation that offers freedom and opportunity for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin. State legislators have a responsibility to protect this promise. 

Christopher Rufo, senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute  

Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation 

Jonathan Butcher, Will Skillman fellow in education at The Heritage Foundation 

Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation 

Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America 

Matt Beienburg, director of the Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy at Goldwater Institute 

Max Eden, author of Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students 

Kenneth L. Marcus, founder and chairman, The Louis D. Brandeis Center For Human Rights Under Law 

Arthur Milikh, executive director of the Center for the American Way of Life at Claremont Institute 

Nicki Neily, president and founder of Parents Defending Education 

Sarah Parshall Perry, former senior counsel, U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights

Inez Feltscher Stepman, senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Voice 

More
Article
November 29, 2022

Returning CEO Bob Iger moves toward neutrality in the culture war.