Zinn Education Project Urges Teachers to Defy Laws Banning Critical Race Theory Concepts

A student and teacher interact in the classroom during Portland Public Schools first day of hybrid instruction at Jason Lee Elementary School on Thursday, April 1, 2021 in Portland, Ore. (Tom McKenzie/AP Images for Portland Public Schools)
Tom McKenzie/AP Images for Portland Public Schools

A decades-old leftist campaign to indoctrinate America’s students in identity politics and the organization of social justice movements is calling upon all teachers to pledge to instruct students in the concepts associated with Critical Race Theory – even if it is banned.

“Pledge to teach the truth,” says the Zinn Education Project, inspired by Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, published in 1980.

The project informs teachers, without use of the words, “Critical Race Theory,” but referencing the concepts of the cultural Marxist ideology:

Lawmakers in at least 21 states are attempting to pass legislation that would require teachers to lie to students about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and oppression throughout U.S. history.

A bill introduced in the Missouri legislature exemplifies a rash of similar bills — in Texas, Idaho, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Arizona, North Carolina, and more states — that aim to prohibit teachers from teaching the truth about this country: It was founded on dispossession of Native Americans, slavery, structural racism and oppression; and structural racism is a defining characteristic of our society today.

The Zinn project rips any legislation that bans teaching that Americans are inherently racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.:

Specifically, the Missouri bill bans teaching that: identifies [sic] people or groups of people, entities, or institutions in the United States as inherently, immutably, or systemically sexist, racist, anti-LGBT, bigoted, biased, privileged, or oppressed.

But how can one teach honestly about the nature of our society without examining how today’s racial inequality is a systemic legacy of this country’s history?

During its virtual representative assembly that convened at the end of last week, the National Education Association (NEA) resolved to promote the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in K-12 schools and to oppose any bans on its instruction, as well as on the teaching of the widely discredited New York Times’ “1619 Project.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Times journalist who led the “1619 Project,” was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her project even though, following criticism from noted historians, the newspaper ultimately scrapped its central theme that the true founding of America was 1619, the year the first slaves were brought to the colonies.

Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said in September, the “1619 Project” is “one of the most significant attempts to propagandize history” he has seen in his lifetime.

This is “an all-hands-on-deck situation,” he warned during a National Association of Scholars web conference.

“We have seen what I believe to be a corruption of history, a distortion of history,” he asserted, adding that Hannah-Jones “is using the tools of a 20th-century form of oppression, to consciously, or not, present her version of, and that of many on the left’s, version of slavery in the United States.”

“And it is nothing more than sheer propaganda,” Kirsanow emphasized.

NEA, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, announced it plans to join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project “to call for a rally this year on October 14 – George Floyd’s birthday – as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression.”

The union added:

The Association will further convey that in teaching these topics, it is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory.

The Zinn Education Project currently boasts nearly 423,000 lesson plan downloads from its site by teachers, including Corey Winchester, a high school history teacher in Evanston, Illinois, who gave his kudos to the site:

I’ve used the Zinn Education Project’s materials since my first year teaching.

Nine years later, my students can speak to the power of deconstructing the narratives of Christopher Columbus and Abraham Lincoln’s efforts that have replicated white supremacy and marginalization of people of color in historical discourse.

For many of them, it is empowering to learn from multiple perspectives and invigorates their desire to learn and disrupt the status quo.

The project elaborates further in urging teachers to pledge to defy any laws that ban teaching that America is a systemically racist nation:

From police violence, to the prison system, to the wealth gap, to maternal mortality rates, to housing, to education and beyond, the major institutions and systems of our country are deeply infected with anti-Blackness and its intersection with other forms of oppression. To not acknowledge this and help students understand the roots of U.S. racism is to deceive them — not educate them. This history helps students understand the roots of inequality today and gives them the tools to shape a just future. It is not just a history of oppression, but also a history of how people have organized and created coalitions across race, class, and gender.

The Zinn project refers to the following organizations as “leading social justice education groups” and objects to state laws that ban their curricula:

1619 Project initiative of the New York Times, the Learning for Justice Curriculum of the Southern Poverty Law Center, We Stories, programs of Educational Equity Consultants, BLM at School, Teaching for Change, Zinn Education Project.

“The proposed legislation fails to name a single lesson that is inaccurate or that misleads students about U.S. history,” the Zinn project claims, urging teachers to ignore state laws that ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory.

“We the undersigned educators will not be bullied,” the Zinn Education Project states. “We will continue our commitment to develop critical thinking that supports students to better understand problems in our society, and to develop collective solutions to those problems.”

In April, the Biden education department proposed a rule urging the development of “culturally responsive teaching” in American History and Civics and holding up the “1619 Project” as a model for schools to teach children the United States is a fundamentally racist nation.

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