Exposing BLM’s Agenda-Driven K-12 Curriculum
February is Black History Month, and the push to inject Black Lives Matter curriculum into America’s K-12 schools is in high gear. In the fight for racial justice, the slogan “black lives matter” is a reasonable mantra that focusses on equality; creating a fair and inclusive society is indeed a very worthy goal.
But “Black Lives Matter” the activist organization with a registered political action committee is a different matter entirely. And it’s Black Lives Matter the political organization that is pushing an agenda-driven curriculum into America’s K-12 schools, an agenda that at times is not only racially polarizing, but one that calls for defunding police; disrupting the nuclear family; and replacing individualism and capitalism with an irresponsible brand of socialist globalism.
A closer look at the document “Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action Starter Kit” shows just how politically driven their curriculum is. “In this era of mass incarceration, there is a school-to-prison-pipeline system that is more invested in locking up youth than unlocking their minds,” the introduction states. “That system uses harsh discipline policies that push Black students out of schools at disproportionate rates; denies students the right to learn about their own cultures and whitewashes the curriculum to exclude many of the struggles and contributions of Black people and other people of color; and is pushing out Black teachers from the schools in cities around the country.”
It’s this very irresponsible rhetoric that causes many educators to regard BLM more as a propaganda outfit than a genuine organization seeking to educate young people (here is a resource to push back against this rhetoric). To state that our school system “is more invested in locking up youth than unlocking their minds” is not only terribly irresponsible and untrue, but extremely demoralizing to the millions of hard-working educators around the country who have dedicated their lives to teaching children.
Likewise, the notion that black teachers are being “pushed out” from schools is ridiculous; in my 25 years as a teacher, I’ve witnessed a steady, collaborative effort to recruit teachers of color into America’s classrooms, not push them out. And yet BLM feels the need to use this propagandistic, inflammatory language, when simply calling for cooperation is all that is needed.
The so-called “demands” BLM is pushing for is also concerning. One demand is to end “Black Teacher Pushouts.” According to BLM, “Racist policies in schools and biased skills exams eliminate Black and Brown teaching candidates.” The National Center for Education Statistics show that Black teachers make up about 8 percent of America’s teaching force, while being 13 percent of the population. And although this is slightly disproportionate, the disparity has more to do with career interest than it does with so-called “biased skills exams.” Again, over the past 20 years, America’s educational system -- at both the university and K-12 level -- have done all they could to recruit, train, and retain teachers of color.
Yet BLM’s “School Week of Action Starter Kit” states:
The elimination of Black teachers is an aggressive push towards homogenizing education in America, creating the School to Prison Pipeline, and honoring the pervasive system of racism from which our country gains its roots... Our Black Teachers need our support and deserve to no longer be abandoned.
This is shameful rhetoric, to put it lightly.
BLM also demands the defunding of school police, and an increase in school counselors. “We have seen videos of horrifying interactions with police officers and Black students in school and each week we hear of Black people having the police called on them for simply existing while Black,” they state. And while most agree investing in school counselors is a good idea, forwarding the notion that Black students are disciplined or confronted by police simply for being black is another example of irresponsible hyperbole, aimed at agitation. In K-12 schools, Black students are disciplined or met by police because they commit behavioral infractions, some very serious, just like students of all races.
At the center of the BLM “School Starter Kit” are the groups’ “13 Guiding Principles,” one of which is “globalism,” and another “Black Villages,” the former concerned with replacing nationalism with a blend of worldwide socialism, and the latter with the deconstruction the “Western nuclear family.” This is quite puzzling, being that 50 years of educational and sociological research shows that children who come from a two-parent nuclear family do better on every academic and behavior measure than those kids who come from a non-nuclear family.
And yet the National Education Association, America’s biggest teachers union, has endorsed BLM’s curriculum.
A deeper dive into the curriculum itself is eye-opening. BLM’s elementary school lesson plan includes a resource titled “Activism, Organizing and Resistance,” which instructs third-grade art teachers to help their students become community activists, literally. In a lesson titled “Art and Community Activism,” along with an activity called “Who Are the Activists in My Community?” children are taught to make activist signs and murals, all supporting the pre-established BLM globalist, anti-police, anti-nuclear family agenda.
The lessons for third-graders go on to teach “resistance stories,” explore the usefulness of “teacher strikes,” and require children to deconstruct their racial and gender identities through identity maps and puzzles.
The middle school BLM curriculum has pre-adolescents answer the essential question: “How has historical oppression lead [sic] to racial injustice in today’s criminal justice system?” From here these children are asked to imagine “a world with no police” by completing a free-writing exercise, and offers teachers a resource document called “Teaching about Controversial or Difficult Issues” which promotes the college-level book The New Jim Crow. “Students and teachers can read this chapter to explore how many police departments ‘seek and destroy’ in some neighborhoods while they ‘protect and serve’ in others,” the resources states.
The BLM high school curriculum offers a way to embed the activist group’s agenda in all subjects -- including math -- and in English class, offers an article titled “White People Hate Protests,” complete with pictures of police manhandling blacks from the 1960s. This article is supplemented by a resource on LBJ’s Riot Commission, an activity the insinuates that property destruction is okay if it’s done for the right reasons. The lesson is complete with discussion questions, one of which asks: "Name 2-3 causes of the riots you feel were most important. Explain your selections."
This is only a small slice of BLM’s curriculum that is being pushed into a public school near you. This is only a small slice of their effort to defund police, disrupt nuclear families, and replace individualism with socialism. It’s straightforward political indoctrination, no objection allowed. It’s meant to teach students what to think, not how to think, ignores most literacy and skills-based instruction, and aims to turn children into future activists who will carry their political agenda into the next generation.
Christopher Paslay is a Philadelphia public schoolteacher, counselor, and coach. His new book, Exploring White Fragility: Debating the Effects of Whiteness Studies on America’s Schools is now available for purchase.