Ron DeSantis, Black History and CRT

Florida has a point in rejecting AP African-American Studies.

By The Editorial Board – Jan. 27, 2023 6:26 pm ET – The Wall Street Journal

When parents complained that Critical Race Theory was creeping into their children’s classrooms, the left argued that CRT is strictly college material and isn’t actually taught in K-12 schools. So how can progressives object now that Gov. Ron DeSantis is blocking a new high-school AP course in Florida on grounds that it’s stuffed with CRT?

Florida rejected a planned Advanced Placement class in African-American Studies because it “lacks educational value” and “is a vehicle for a political agenda.” In response, NPR quoted an academic “involved in creating the curriculum,” who explained again that CRT is too advanced for high-school students. “There’s nothing particularly ideological about the course,” he added, “except that we value the experiences of African people in the United States.”

The chattering class had already committed to that narrative by the time a draft of the AP framework leaked. It starts innocuously enough, with topics on Africa’s linguistic diversity and the history of the Songhai Empire. But keep reading until Unit 4, which includes:

• “The Reparations Movement,” a topic that “explores the case for reparations,” in which students “may examine House Bill H.R. 40 and a text by Ta-Nehisi Coates.”

• “Movements for Black Lives,” which “explores the origins, mission, and global influence of the Black Lives Matter movement,” some of whose adherents have called for the abolition of prisons and police.

• “Black Queer Studies,” which “explores the concept of the queer of color critique, grounded in Black feminism and intersectionality, as a Black studies lens that shifts sexuality studies toward racial analysis.”

• “‘Postracial’ Racism and Colorblindness,” which “explores concepts such as postracialism, colorblindness, racecraft, or inequality.”

• “Intersectionality and Activism,” which “examines intersectionality as an analytical framework and its connection to Chicana and Asian American feminist thought.” Students “may explore a text” by Kimberlé Crenshaw, whose official Columbia Law School bio says that her work is “foundational in critical race theory.”

My cmnt: Because the Left-democrat establishment is constantly coming up with “New Speak” words (i.e., especially with the invention of fictional gender categories) such as intersectionality I had to look it up myself: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

My cmnt: The Left invents other misnomers like disadvantaged and privileged. People’s free life choices in a free market under the rule of law and the Judeo-Christian value system produce doers and takers or contributors and leeches – not advantaged and disadvantaged. Much of the American Dream which draws legal immigrants to America is the opportunity to raise your position in life thru education, hard work, self-discipline, delayed gratification and a free market which encourages the building of businesses from scratch. The Left’s idea of the American Dream is to unethically encourage millions of undocumented democrats to illegally pour across our Southern border to ultimately go on welfare, overwhelm our social institutions, and illegally vote democrat.

My cmnt: Other examples abound. Welfare was changed to entitlements (which it most certainly is NOT) while Soc Sec and Medicare were changed from bought-n-paid-for by the taxpayer pensions and medical insurance to now being called entitlements (which they also are not). Joey Biden’s handlers called his enormous, wasteful and inflation producing several trillion dollar print-borrow-and-spend boondoggle ( a public project of questionable merit that typically involves political patronage and graft: they each drew $600,000 in the final months of the great boondoggle) the misnomer The Inflation Reduction Act which is like calling a nuclear bomb detonated over a major city The Infrastructure Restoration Act.

The political dispute over such coursework sometimes devolves into a tedious semantic debate over whether asking teens to contemplate intersectionality and read Ms. Crenshaw technically constitutes “teaching CRT.” In any case, Florida’s complaint about an underlying political agenda hardly looks frivolous.

Does an AP class that’s exploring “the case for reparations” also discuss the case against, including the fact that 21% of black Americans are first or second generation, and 18% of black newlyweds in 2015 married someone of a different race or ethnicity? The AP document has a topic on exploring the “diverse experiences and identities of Black communities in the U.S.” Somehow we doubt that this involves readings from Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas.

More to the point, does anybody think that if this kind of curriculum were put to a vote in Florida, it would get anywhere close to majority support? Mr. DeSantis’s administration is responsible for overseeing what happens in the state’s public K-12 schools. “We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think,” the Governor said, “but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them.”

Florida’s Education Department told the College Board, which runs the AP program, that it would “reopen the discussion” if the curriculum were revised. The College Board said Tuesday, without mentioning Florida, that it soon will release an “official” course framework to supplant the current pilot version. Meantime, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has urged no changes, saying his state expects history lessons that cover “the role played by black queer Americans.”

Critics of Mr. DeSantis argue that there’s an AP course in European History, which he apparently doesn’t mind. Maybe that’s because it appears to cover, uh, European history: the Reformation, the Congress of Vienna, the Iron Curtain. At a rally in Tallahassee, meantime, a chant rings out: “Black history is American history!”

That last sentiment is exactly right, which is why black history isn’t an elective. Florida mandates instruction on “the enslavement experience,” “the civil rights movement,” and the contributions of black Americans. Three years ago, Mr. DeSantis signed a law to teach the 1920 Ocoee massacre, in which a white mob killed dozens of black Floridians.

The K-12 curriculum is always a work in progress, but the right approach is to resist Balkanization, not to demand it. African-American history is indeed American history, and that’s how schools should teach it.

Appeared in the January 28, 2023, print edition as ‘Ron DeSantis, Black History and CRT’.

Who Owns the University?

As state-run schools push extreme ideologies like CRT and DEI, some lawmakers and governors have begun to push back.

By Richard Vedder – for the Wall Street Journal

March 16, 2023 5:58 pm ET

American higher education is in crisis. The rise of diversity, equity and inclusion bureaucracies and a growing intolerance for dissent has spurred political battles for control of campus decision-making in North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and elsewhere. The fights point to a fundamental question: Who “owns” a university? Perhaps the question is better phrased: To whom does a school belong?

In the competitive private marketplace, ownership is clear. When Elon Musk buys a company like Twitter, few question his authority to fire staff or change access rules. While practices vary enormously among the thousands of American colleges and universities, seven groups often claim at least partial ownership and control:

• The board. Most schools, public or private, are overseen by a legally constituted governing board.

• The politicians. At public institutions, state government usually is the legal “owner” of the school.

• The administrators. A school’s president and senior bureaucrats are vested with executive responsibility, which resembles ownership.

• The faculty. The professors who administer academic offerings and conduct grant-inducing research often feel the school belongs to them.

• The students. They are a primary reason for the school’s existence and their families pay substantial tuition and fees.

• The alumni. Graduates constitute the donor base at most private schools and some public ones as well.

• The accrediting agencies. The federal Education Department charges these bodies with certifying an institution’s right to confer degrees.

Some schools don’t fit this mold. Religious schools usually have a somewhat different governing dynamic than do government-owned community colleges, state universities or elite private schools. At some institutions, labor unions have an effect on decision-making. This diversity of ownership historically has been one of the strengths of American higher education. In the U.S., the academy isn’t run by a stultifying monopolistic government education ministry.

The University of North Carolina, Texas Tech University and other large state schools have been the scene of recent high-profile contretemps. Many such schools are dealing with the fallout from declining public support, high tuition fees and falling enrollments. From roughly 1960 to 2010, state politicians increased funding regularly and largely stayed out of internal university affairs. In that period, somewhat clueless governing boards rubber-stamped administrative requests, with the university president wining and dining board members and purchasing their loyalty with tickets to sporting events.

Students had relatively little clout during this period, and an overproduction of doctorates eroded the power and marketability of professors too. Simultaneously, the professoriate, always a liberal bastion, moved to the extreme left. In recent years college professors have openly and aggressively promoted ideologies such as critical race theory.

A decade of enrollment decline after 2011 reflected an accurate perception: Most colleges had become overpriced indoctrination mills. Recognition of this stimulated increasingly aggressive efforts by state politicians to reform universities, eroding their previous near independence from the political process.

In some parts of the country, elected officials have decided to reclaim ownership of their public university systems. Gov. Ron DeSantis’s popularity soared when he demanded that Florida schools account for their DEI spending. He managed to get special state funding for a new conservative-oriented Hamilton Center at the University of Florida, and he engineered a daring takeover of the small New College, calling on it to become the South’s answer to Hillsdale, a small liberal-arts school in Michigan that is famous for refusing money from the federal government.

Other states have joined the trend. The conservative North Carolina legislature engineered a GOP takeover of the UNC board of governors, who voted 12-0 to create a new school committed to free expression in higher education. A Texas state senator has introduced a bill to turn the free-market minded Civitas Institute at the University of Texas, Austin, into a formal college. The Free Market Institute—which “advances research and teaching related to the free enterprise system and the institutional environment necessary for it to function well”—flourishes at Texas Tech. In Ohio, legislators have vowed to cease rubber-stamping gubernatorial nominees to university governing boards. In the past, these nominees were often picked by university administrators.

Most state universities still depend on taxpayer funding to pay many of their bills. If those universities deviate too drastically from accepted norms of behavior, they can be punished with reduced subsidies, a loss of control, or both. Perhaps legislators will start moving to a new funding model: give state funds to customers (students) rather than to educational producers (universities) and then let education markets work. Ultimately, even militant faculty should realize that tenure isn’t worth much if there are no dollars to pay salaries—or students to listen to their lectures.

Mr. Vedder is an emeritus professor of economics at Ohio University, a senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of “Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America.”

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