When a new curriculum is too woke for the New York Times, it has to be the most wildly out-of-step model this country's ever seen. It also has to be from California, which is one of the only states capable of taking public education to places even liberals would oppose. "The idea that a tax-supported public school system would, or could, be used to unleash this vicious cultural and spiritual poison into our young people's consciousness is both extremely offensive and quite possibly illegal," the Times's Bret Stephens wrote. And yet today, that "poison" is on the verge of becoming the Ethnic Studies standard for six million U.S. students.
There was some hope, after last October when Governor Gavin Newsom (D) actually vetoed an earlier draft of this curriculum, that its creators would get the message that its curriculum was too much for even the state's far-Left activists. Instead, the California Department of Education doubled down, writing another version that's just as controversial as the one rejected by the state school board the last go-around. Stephens, who you have to credit for blowing the doors off of this proposal in what has become one of the most far Left papers in the country, couldn't believe his eyes.
"Ethnic studies," he pointed out, is supposed to be about multiculturalism. And unfortunately, that's what some people might think if they didn't dig deeper into the 900 pages of details. "[This] is not a way of exploring, much less celebrating, America's pluralistic society. It is an assault on it... Public education is supposed to create a sense of common citizenship while cultivating the habits of independent thinking. This is a curriculum that magnifies differences, encourages tribal loyalties and advances ideological groupthink." It shouldn't be like this, he insisted.
Other outlets have started to pick up on absurd religious section, where children are taught that Christian settlers committed "theocide" against the Native Americans by "murdering" their gods and replacing them with the Christian God. This, the curriculum's authors insist, is what led to "coloniality, dehumanization, and genocide," and the "explicit erasure and replacement of holistic Indigeneity and humanity." To help reverse that trend and create a new "social order," where children are encouraged to cry out to Aztec gods and right this wrong.
"The chants have a clear implication," one of the analysts of the curriculum says, "the displacement of the Christian God, which is said to be an extension of white supremacist oppression, and the restoration of the indigenous gods to their rightful place..." Of course, as plenty of legal scholars have pointed out, the forced practice of religion is a real violation of the Establishment Clause. If Christians can't pray, then surely a coerced class of pagan incantation is unconstitutional.
And incredibly, the religious component is just a tiny piece of the statewide uproar. The whole goal of this curriculum seems to be turning California schools into godless "factories for Left-wing political activism," where America cast as "an oppressor nation" that must be "deconstructed and subverted through politics."
Under the guise of "equity" and "empowerment," activists within the public education system have developed this radical new curriculum in order to transform California schools into factories for left-wing political activism. They have recast the United States as an oppressor nation that must be deconstructed and subverted through politics. The curriculum's vision statement makes this aim explicit: it presents education not as a means of achieving competency, but as a "tool for transformation, social, economic, and political change, and liberation."
An earlier draft of the model left out civil rights leader Martin Luther King and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall for radical revolutionaries like Pol Pot of Cambodian killing field fame. There were explicit threads of anti-Semitism that ran through the pages, until California's Jewish community insisted they come out.
This is what happens, NRO's Cameron Hilditch warns, when parents refuse to take on public education. "There is no other area of American life that conservative have so comprehensively abandoned for such a long period of time as K–12 education. [C]hildren in the public schools today are fated for this kind of indoctrination." It's not enough anymore just to call for school choice. Parents and concerned citizens have to be willing to fight over the content children are learning. "If conservatives... were to organize in as active, disciplined, and committed a way around the issue of education during the next 40 years as they organized around the law and the courts over the last 40 years, programs like this ethnic-studies curriculum might one day be remembered as strange historical artifacts of a brief and bygone moral panic."
Instead, one of the largest states in the country is on the brink of mandating idol worship in kids' classrooms! Maybe, John Fund quips, we should be glad all of California's schools aren't open. Because the only positive thing about COVID is that more parents are rethinking their child's education. In California, as in other states, moms and dads need to do more than think. They need to act. Pulling their children out of government schools is one step; organizing with other Americans against this madness is the other.