The National Education Association finally comes clean
"In reality, 'critical race theory' being taught in elementary, middle, and high school isn't a concern. All students deserve to be taught the truth and all educators deserve the right to teach it."
—Alice O'Brien, general counsel, National Education Association
Ms. O'Brien then says Critical Race Theory is a legal theory that posits that what appears to be neutral in American law is really a device to perpetuate systemic racism. Honesty in education, or "truth" as Ms. O'Brien sees it, would require teachers to teach and support ideological organizations such as Black Lives Matter so American schoolchildren get the full picture regarding American history, such as the "murder" of George Floyd and the January 6, 2020 "insurrection" in Washington, D.C.
The "truth" also includes the 1619 Project, which reframes American history to support the theory that the apparently republican principles at our founding are merely a cover to support slavery. New restrictions on teaching these theories in ten or more states are really right-wing political groups trying to hide the full story from students and perpetuate non-inclusive and racially insensitive public education.
Goodness. O'Brien goes on to say the NEA is there to help teachers who want to add CRT to their teaching in states that oppose it and advises that they talk to their union representatives for guidance about Black Lives Matter or other advocacy posters. NEA lawyers will be there to back these "truth-tellers" by challenging any over-broad interpretations of restrictions on ideological education and strictly enforcing collective bargaining agreements and state tenure laws.
Stated another way, the NEA is promoting these theories as factual and is telling teachers that they have a right to teach what is factual. Is this statement true? If we add duty, don't public school teachers have the right and duty to teach what is true? The answer is no and yes.
1. What is politically true for one teacher is not a "truth"; it is a political opinion. O'Brien states that parents or states resisting Critical Race Theory or the 1619 Project are trying to make Republicans out of students. That is patently untrue. So, no, teachers do not have the right to teach their personal political views as fact or truth. The Supreme Court of the United States makes this clear in a case that upholds the rights of Jehovah's Witnesses regarding pledging allegiance to the flag.
"If there is any fixed star in our constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not occur to us."
—West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), Robert H. Jackson
In a case prohibiting official invocation and benediction prayers as part of middle school and high school graduation ceremonies, the Supreme Court says:
"As we have observed before, there are heightened concerns with protecting freedom of conscience from subtle coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary public schools. . . what may appear to be reasonable. . . in a school context may appear to the dissenter to be an attempt to employ the machinery of the State to enforce. . . a[n] orthodoxy."
—Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992), Justice Kennedy
Many states consider public school teachers' personal political opinions violations of their state Hatch Acts because teachers are representatives of the state's machinery. O'Brien, in her national podcast to subscribers, clearly states and strongly implies that Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project represent "civics education" and "true history." They are no such thing. These are theories of the truth, not true history itself.
2. What public school teachers may do — in fact, have a duty to do, as arms of the state, funded by the state's citizens — is like a physician's duty: first, do no harm. Children are children. They are growing human beings with limited biological capabilities and developing hearts and minds. The primary source of their education is at home through their parents, grandparents, siblings, and other family members. This familial bond is the abutment that supports the weight of our civilization. Nothing a teacher should say or imply should in any way negate the importance of the family and its values.
Teachers and administrators have a duty to make sure that objective, not theoretical, age-appropriate knowledge is passed along to each generation so that there is continuity in our civilization and a sense of pride and belonging to the school, to the community, to the state in which one lives, and to the country at large.
None of what teachers have a duty to do includes their own political perspectives, supported by their politicized union, that might include ugly divisiveness, racial stereotyping, sarcasm or cynicism about a child's world, promotion of ideological activism, omission of universal and ageless values that undergird American civilization, or sexual concepts completely inappropriate for a child.
For the NEA to approve and promote what harms a child's heart, what harms a child's mind, and what destroys a child's future is wickedness beyond comprehension.
"The child is not the mere creature of the State."
—Pierce v. Society of Sisters 268 U.S. 510 (1925), Justice McReynolds
M.E. Boyd's Apples of Gold — Voices from the Past that Speak to Us Now is available at www.amazon.com using the title and subtitle.