The Social Justice in Education Bible

Are your children too “white”?  According to The Handbook of Social Justice in Education, a series of essays for teacher educators, they are.  They’re also too privileged, homophobic, racist, and Western.

Published in 2009 by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, this 775-page ton of social justice entitlement theories, queerology, and race-bashing was edited by none other than William Ayers, with help from Therese Quinn from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and David Stovall, like Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The most horrible story comes towards the end of this seemingly endless book of divisiveness.  In Essay No. 43, entitled “Playing in the Light:  Experiential Learning and White Identity Development” by Gretchon Brion-Meisels.

 “Young White students rarely consider explicitly the experience of being White…Most White students interpret their experiences as completely outside the realm of race.  In our society, Whiteness is defined largely by what it is not; to be White is to ‘normal.’  Because Whiteness is not talked about explicitly, we are encouraged to pretend it does not exist.”

Brion-Meisels, according to the Contributors biographies at the back of the book, “grew up in Cambridge, Mass., where she ‘struggled’ to understand her own privilege in a diverse social context.  After writing her senior thesis on positive models of White anti-racism, she began teaching middle-school humanities.  In a Baltimore City classroom, she encountered the devastating effects of institutionalized inequity.  Her work continues to be driven by her desire to create equitable schools.  In 2007, she began her doctoral studies.”  [Heaven help her students.]

Ms. Brion-Meisels assigned her eight-grade students to become subject “experts” in a race other than their own.  One of the students, a white boy, breaks down crying and refuses to participate in the exercise any longer.  The other two boys are also white, but one had been in a previous African-American group where he had embraced “Black Power” (the other was an American Indian expert) and begins teasing “Jeffrey” about being a “slave master, plantation owner, and oppressor.”

The other two boys apologize and even the Black students ask another student why he’s apologizing.  “Why do you feel bad?” they ask in bafflement.  “It wasn’t your fault.”  Here, the author expresses immense pride in her African-American students.

HSJE sets its goal at nothing less than completely “transforming” the current educational system from one of learning Western culture from an ‘authoritarian White’ teacher to a student-centered classroom, focusing on their needs and feelings rather than on information and skills.  This transformation begins by indoctrinating the teachers.

“Social justice education,” the editors write, “rests on three pillars or principles: 

  1.  Equity, the principle of fairness, equal access to the most challenging and nourishing educational experiences, the demand that what the most privileged and enlightened are able to provide their children must be the stand for what is made available to all children.  This must also account for equitable outcomes, and somehow for redressing and repairing historical and imbedded injustices.
  2. Activism, the principle of agency, full participation, preparing youngsters to see and understand, and when necessary, to change all that is before them.  This is a move away from passivity, cynicism and despair.
  3. Social Literacy, the principle of relevance, resisting the flattening effects of materialism and consumerism and the power of the abiding social evils of white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia – nourishing awareness of our own identities and our connection with others, reminding us of the powerful commitment, persistence, bravery, and triumphs of our social-justice seeking forebears [that should be forbearers], reminding us as well of the link between ideas and the concentric circles of context – economic condition, historical flow, cultural surround – within which our lives are negotiated.

“Social justice education embraces the three Rs:  Relevant, Rigorous, and Revolutions.  We change our lives, we change the world.”

Many of the essays tout something called “critical thinking.”  They do not mean critical thinking in the classic liberal sense.  These professors despise what they call the “neoliberals” intent only on creating a competent workforce to keep the Capitalist machine running.  They do not mean looking at both sides of the issue – Capitalism vs. Communism – and having the students decide for themselves which is right.  They mean for the students to criticize what has always been taught in America – freedom, individualism, prosperity – and tear it down through their personal, minority experiences.  The object is to examine how their “exclusion” whether through race, gender, or sex belies the promise of the American Dream.

Kenneth J. Saltman writes, “…public schooling remains one of the few places in a hyper-commercialized society where knowledge and information (largely produced and circulated by corporate media with financial and ideological interests in selling fleeting spectacle for passive consumption) can be investigated and debated as the basis for more complex and historically informed perspectives that can be the basis for greater individual and social understanding and public deliberation and action.  Put differently, public schooling is a crucial site and stake in the struggle for the making of a democratic ethos.  Yet in public schools, public democratic culture is under increasing assault by educational reforms that separate facts for underlying values and framing assumptions that disconnect claims to truth from the interests and perspectives of those making them, that view knowledge as static, discreet (sic) objects to be delivered to learners  to learners like units of commodity.”

That word should be “discrete,” Prof. Saltman.  He goes on to rail at standardized testing.

“In short, the intensified positivism of constant standardized testing, ‘performance-based assessment,” and standardization of curriculum undermine not only the curiosity and investigative powers of the student but also deny the dialogic nature of knowledge-making.  The new reforms see knowledge as exclusively needing to be enforced from above, determined by the experts – ‘the ones who know.’  Knowledge and schooling are alleged to be objective and neutral in this perspective.  There is, of course, a politics in the denial of the politics of education as the values, interests, and ideological perspectives of “ones who know” are concealed under the guise of objectivity and neutrality fostered by standardized testing, tracking, and grading.  The denial of underlying values and framing assumptions do more than threaten the development of critical individual capable of critically interpreting the world in order to act and change it collectively.”

He charges on.  “Such denials implicit in the positivist reforms also flatten history by falsely suggesting that ‘consecrated’ knowledge is universally, transhistorically true.  To recognize the partial, contextual nature of truth claims is not to deny objective reality but to recognize that truth claims are selected and mediated through subjectivity.  The positivism of the new reforms posits a false objectivism in which the role of the subject in interpreting the truth plays no part in shaping the object of knowledge itself.”

There is no truth, he asserts, and therefore knowledge cannot and should not be tested by those who, in the social justice universe, are considered “biased.”  The entire book is then divided into sections treating the subject of various minorities and the students’ perspective on the Western history they’ve been ‘force-fed.’ 

Glenn Beck was criticized by some reviewer for having “too many references and footnotes” in his new book, Control.  Essay No. 24, “Theorizing Disability:  Implications and Applications for Social Justice in Education” features eight (8) pages of references for its 15 page essay.  A number of the footnotes make reference to Karl Marx.

HSJE contains essays on homosexuality, feminism, disabilities, racism, economism.  There are even a couple of essays on “Queerology.”  Their word, not mine.  An essay on hearing disabilities insists that hearing disabled students should be taught in sign language rather than being taught to read lips and wearing hearing aids, or worse, getting the new hearing implant, the kind that Rush Limbaugh wears.

The son of a friend of mine wears two hearing aids.  He has 80 percent hearing loss.  Initially he wanted to go to a school for the deaf where he would learn sign language.  Fortunately, his parents said no.  They would get him whatever hearing aids and tutoring in lip-reading he needed.  They knew that learning sign language would only impair his career.  If he wanted to get along in the business world, he needed to learn to adapt and overcome his disability, not wallow in it.  Today, he’s an extraordinarily successful IT manager whose expertise is sought all over the world.

The book covers theories on student-centered learning and emotional exercises for white children, in particular, to get in touch with their inner racist, and expunge the demon of privilege.  As far as the editors are concerned, the whole Western academic curricula should be jettisoned and their students inculcated to be “agents of change” where they will be in charge of their own education (with their socialist teachers as guides) and ultimately, in charge of the world.

Social Justice educators wail and bemoan the standardized testing.  Yet, don’t be fooled.  Common Core actually meets their needs and desires precisely.  In their plans, the SATs will also be jettisoned and students will be tracked according to their skills and abilities, rather than their retention of facts and knowledge, useless things in the objective, communal world to come.

The current SATs are so watered-down that a 10 year-old from two or three generations ago could pass them.  Social justice education is already here.  Yesterday’s news reported that in a California classroom, the female students, about 13 years-old, were lined up in pairs in the front of the classroom and forced to act-out a lesbian-relationship, to see what it would be like to tell another woman that they “loved” them.

States are beginning to reject Common Core and from what Conservative professionals, who are concerned about educating not radicalizing their students, say, that’s a good thing.  Eliminating standardized testing for general and advanced knowledge is not necessarily a good thing.  The problem with Common Core is its target, the lowest common denominator of knowledge that a student can possess and still graduate from high school.

Our students should be aiming a little higher than that.

 

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Published in: on May 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

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