Biden Ed Department Calls Support for Radical CRT Group Pushing to ‘Disrupt Whiteness’ an ‘Error’

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona testifies before the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2021. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration walked back its promotion of a radical group that peddles Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the education department’s guide to reopening schools.

“The Department does not endorse the recommendations of this group, nor do they reflect our policy positions,” a Department of Education spokesperson said, according to Fox News. “It was an error in a lengthy document to include this citation.”

Abolitionist Teaching Network, co-founded by Bettina Love, apparently locked its Twitter account following the report that the Biden education department “does not endorse” its “recommendations” or “policy positions.”

On page 9 of its document titled “Ed COVID-19 Handbook: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs,” the education department states:

A districtwide or schoolwide approach to meeting social, emotional, and mental health needs that is responsive to the trauma of COVID-19 and grounds itself in equity can help all students feel seen and valued. It is important for educators to recognize that social and emotional competencies can be expressed differently across cultures, especially considering that young students of color are living through, witnessing, and making sense of historic moments in American history and their place in it. Schools are microcosms of society; therefore, culturally responsive practices, intentional conversations related to race and social emotional learning, and helping students understand the skills they are building in school are the foundation for participating in a democracy and should be anchor tenets in building a schoolwide system of educational opportunity.

The link, to date, is still active on the words “race and social emotional learning,” which takes the reader to the Abolitionist Teaching Network’s “Guide for Racial Justice and Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning.”

“Abolitionist Teachers” should “[b]uild a school culture that engages in healing and advocacy,” the group’s guide states. “This requires a commitment to learning from students, families, and educators who disrupt Whiteness and other forms of oppression.”

Regarding school discipline, the guide calls for schools to “[r]emove any and all police and policing from schools” and “[r]eparations for Children of Color stolen by the school-to-prison pipeline.”

On Friday, some reports suggested that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona backed away from requiring applications for American History and Civics grants to be linked to projects involving CRT or the “1619 Project.”

The department issued no press release with this information, but, in a blog post Friday on the department’s website, Cardona wrote the American History and Civics grant program “has not, does not, and will not dictate or recommend specific curriculum be introduced or taught in classrooms.”

“Those decisions are – and will continue to be – made at the local level,” the secretary said, without specifically mentioning “Critical Race Theory” or the “1619 Project.”

Cardona noted his department is posting notices that invite grant applicants to “address topics that are important to the Department,” and, in particular, two “priority” areas:

The first invitational priority encourages projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives into teaching and learning. This priority is included because the Department recognizes the value of supporting teaching and learning that reflects the rich diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences of all students.

A second invitational priority encourages projects that improve students’ information literacy skills. At a time when our democratic institutions are threatened by misinformation and disinformation, our democracy depends on robust civic engagement and informed public discourse, and civics education can help students become better citizens by developing the skills necessary to distinguish between accurate and inaccurate information.

“Through the teaching of American history and civics, we can continue our efforts toward reaching those founding ideals of our nation,” Cardona said. “And as President Biden has noted, while we still haven’t yet lived up to all of those ideals, we will never stop trying.”

Education researcher Stanley Kurtz told Breitbart News that Cardona’s statements amounted to “bogus window dressing, nothing more.”

“It’s a serious mistake to interpret this move as a substantive victory,” he said, cautioning those viewing the blog post as a triumph. “The change shows that the Biden education department is running scared. But the change itself is mere window dressing.”

Kurtz told Breitbart News the Biden education department’s original rule that referred to Critical Race Theory and the work of CRT activist Ibram X. Kendi “was a classic Washington gaffe” in that it “prematurely revealed its true intentions.”

“Now they’ve tried to hide their goals, but it’s too late,” he explained. “Cardona favors CRT, as he always has, and nothing in this revision will prevent him from funding CRT with tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars if the big civics bills pass,” referring to legislation that supports “action” or “protest” civics in schools.

Breitbart News reported in March that Abolitionist Teaching Network’s Love and several colleagues, including Yale activist Dena Simmons joined in a “conversation” in June 2020 focused on “Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools,” in connection with social and emotional learning (SEL).

“Our schools are steeped in white supremacy,” Simmons asserted during the web forum. “I always tell people it doesn’t matter what your curriculum is, if you put it in a system without any lens that is abolitionist, that is anti-racist, it can we used as a weapon.”

For Simmons, black students are always victims of white supremacy. She complained SEL, without a white supremacy focus, is disenfranchising black students:

When black students become inappropriately angry and threatening, “it is like, you know, ‘Those students really don’t know how to control themselves,’” Simmons said, parroting school SEL teachers who say, “We should do the SEL program with them and maybe they will learn how to manage their behaviors and have that self-control, and stuff like that.”

The Abolitionist Teaching Network’s guide urges teaches to “[i]nvestigate how existing SEL frameworks are weaponized against Black, Brown, and Indigenous children and communities.”

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