Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fighting Racism With... More Racism?

At the Monday 1/9 meeting of the Hillsboro School District’s Curriculum Committee, I was shocked to learn that the district’s new diversity programs are centered on instructing every staff member in Critical Race Theory.  In case you have not heard of it, Critical Race Theory is a trend at the most radical fringes of postmodern academia, based on analyzing how Whiteness is the root cause of the major problems of modern society. As summarized by Judge Richard Posner,

What is most arresting about critical race theory is turns its back on the Western tradition of rational inquiry, forswearing analysis for narrative. Rather than marshal logical arguments and empirical data, critical race theorists tell stories — fictional, science-fictional, quasi-fictional, autobiographical, anecdotal — designed to expose the pervasive and debilitating racism of America today. By repudiating reasoned argumentation, the storytellers reinforce stereotypes about the intellectual capacities of nonwhites.

What does Critical Race Theory teach? Basically, all whites must take responsibility for all the historical crimes committed by their race. These crimes have bought them an unfair Privilege of Whiteness.  Minorities face insurmountable obstacles today, and whites receive endless privileges, all stemming from these crimes. (And implicitly, in any historical event that has occurred over the past thousand years, any whites who participated must be judged by 21st century moral standards, though no others are subject to this condition.)   So it is a form of Orwellian doublethink, where racism is bad, except that Caucasians are uniquely responsible for the problems of modern society based on the color of their skin.
I wonder how my 16th-century ancestors would have felt, as they eked out the living of poor Jewish peasants in Russia, knowing that they were personally responsible for Hernan Cortes’ disruption of Aztec society thousands of miles away in Mexico, due to their roughly similar skin tone. I think someone forgot to send them their share of Montezuma’s gold.

More seriously, what are the consequences of this Critical Race Theory philosophy?
  • It teaches that racial consciousness is a core requirement for progress, throwing out the ideal of judging people by the content of their character, dividing people by race, and using this as a basis to assign responsibility for the problems of modern society.
  • It is used to justify racial quotas and First Amendment-violating speech codes, teaching that the “voices of the oppressed” universally take priority over Western ideals of freedom and equality, and leading to persecution of students for politically incorrect statements.
  • It teaches minority children that success is not to be expected due to problems caused by other races, rather than encouraging them to take advantage of the opportunities offered them.
  • It fans flames of racial animosity, alienating minority students from their teachers and classmates.
  • These programs are self-perpetuating regardless of the fact that they exacerbate problems they claim to solve, as any who dare criticize them are accused of racism or hate crimes. (I’m sure I’ll be called a racist for this blog post.)
  • Scarce resources are wasted teaching workshops on Critical Race Theory instead of being used for effective, race-neutral programs that could be helping these children.
Note that I am not claiming here that we should be ignoring the disproportionate problems of minority students in our schools. I agree that we need to examine the situations of disadvantaged and struggling students (whether minority or not), and take the action needed to provide them the opportunity to learn and achieve to their full potential. But we need provide such opportunity through race-neutral programs that nurture each individual child, not by teaching irrational anti-Westernism and racial hatred. In a future blog post I will provide examples of such programs.

But right now, I am outraged that our school is wasting resources and indoctrinating its staff in Critical Race Theory. You can find Hillsboro school board contact information at the district website linked here.   The radical, irrational, and racist philosophy known as Critical Race Theory has no place in our school district. If you agree, please call or email your school board member today.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Positive Steps In Leveraging Technology

Recently at a Hillsboro School District Curriculum committee meeting, it was mentioned that science textbooks in the district had not been updated since 1997.  This got me a little worried, especially after I did some research online and found that some new online texts had been approved by the state in 2009 for local districts.    So I emailed the adminstration for more details... and was pleasantly surprised by the answer.   Basically, they didn't adopt the online texts because they saw no need to pay money for something being provided so widely for free. 

If you haven't been following this area, there is an amazing amount of free educational content available these days on the web.   You probably know that I'm a big fan of free online educational resources, having been making my own small contribution through my podcast over the past few years.  HSD sent me a presentation they had given to teachers in the district on the many online education resources available, such as,,, etc.   Their presentation frankly admits "We're behind... we need to lead."

There are no statistics available on our district's actual usage of such resources at this stage.  But I'm hoping that as teachers do examine these resources and become more comfortable with them, the district will be able to look across-the-board at phasing out expensive textbook purchases in favor of online sources.  Most texbooks are insanely expensive, and we may find that providing every student with an e-reader is a lot more cost-effective in the long run than buying them.   This also is a great end-run around the slow, politicized state-level approval process that ensures mediocre but high-priced textbooks as the standard.