By Max B. Sawicky
I'd like to underscore the importance of Leo's post. I've had a ringside seat on this and I've been yelling about it since April, so I'd like to add a few points, in the nature of friendly amendments.
The Right is whining that education on race introduces turmoil in schools and classrooms. Actually it is their own agitation that will do that. Rabid denunciations of teaching on elementary matters of race by adults will echo in classrooms. A race-blind pedagogy will render U.S. history more remote to POC and lead to the opposite result for which they clamor: less identification with U.S. citizenship.
But the campaign is not motivated by any of that. One of the original epicenters was in Loudoun County, Va., where I live. This has national strategic significance, in three ways. 1) it pressures teacher unions, one of the lynchpins of Democratic Party power nationwide; 2) it agitates Trump voters in Virginia, a key source of Democratic Party electoral votes; 3) it fuels the home-schooling movement.
On (2), the former head of the Loudoun County school board is using this issue as a springboard for his gubernatorial campaign. The state government went all-Democratic in recent years, and this issue, along with hype over gun control, has lead to frenzied public meetings of crazed voters. The gun control agitation was based in the rural counties. The CRT noise is focused in the biggest, wealthiest counties. Put them together, and you have the basis for Republican victory.
On (1) and (3), CRT hype promotes separation from public schools altogether, not unlike the formation of racist 'academies' in the South after Brown vs. Board of Ed. One can find talk locally by parents of hiring teachers to teach in their home to groups of five or so students. There are enough people here with the financial means to cause a non-trivial drain on public schools, leading to generalized lack of funding that will have disparate, negative impacts by class and race.
On ways to fight back, here are a couple of additional considerations.
This is a Trumpist movement, and Trumpists have substantially discredited themselves with their actions on Jan 6. Such antics would be likely to have their greatest negative response in precisely the middle-class localities where the CRT issue has been amped up. Jan 6 should be a millstone around the necks of the GOP everywhere.
In Loudoun Country, the school board is not up for election this year, so the Right is trying to set off a recall election. Here school board elections are formally non-partisan. Of course all electeds have some known party identification. Nevertheless, voters may resent being dragged into elections for those they have already approved at the ballot box, all the more so if the campaign is based on rubbish.
One added element locally has been protest over protocols on treatment of transgender students. The bathroom issue is rearing its head again. Parents of these students tend to be among the most energetic in response. There has also been flak over 'dirty books' being assigned for reading. (Actually they're not dirty and they have not been required reading.) Middle-class moderate parents are unlikely to be moved by these issues, so the campaign has the effect of energizing an excitable minority, but also isolating them.
Finally, I note that DSA in Virginia has been totally asleep at the switch on all of this. In my rudimentary understanding of organizing, politics entails talking about what others are talking about, not just what you want to talk about. Here the preferred issues are a pipeline that would run through the state, and the PRO act. If the R's retake power in the state, pipelines and labor rights will take their place alongside other, equally-critical problems.
The opinions expressed here are those of members and allies of DSA North Star Caucus meant to educate, inspire discussion and encourage comradely debate.
North Star caucus member pages
antiracismdsa (blog of Duane Campbell)
Hatuey's Ashes (blog of José G. Pérez)
Authory and Substack of Max Sawicky
Online University of the Left
The Washington Socialist
In These Times
Black Agenda Report
Working Families Party
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Progressive Democrats of America
Democracy for America
Black Lives Matter
Movement for Black Lives
The Women's March
Jewish Voice for Peace
National Abortion Rights Action League
National Organization for Women
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights