July 9, 2021
By Matt Beienburg

A leftwing Arizona Republic writer is now openly calling for the universal teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in K-12 classrooms, envisioning a world in which every child is forced to learn it unless their parents can literally buy their way out.

The paper’s editorial columnist, Elvia Diaz, stated this week that “Critical Race Theory deserves to be taught in school; it deserves to be vigorously defended,” adding “Once critical race theory is universally taught or permitted, parents’ only option would be to take their kids to private schools with tuition that should come out of their own pockets.”

How do you like that, parents? Your child belongs to a CRT training camp unless you pony up the cash to escape.

At the same time, however, Diaz warns of a plot that could derail this utopian vision from becoming reality: “Conservatives call this subplot academic transparency,” a nod to the Goldwater Institute’s Academic Transparency initiative.

As recently featured in an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) policy brief, the Academic Transparency legislative proposal would require public schools to post on their website a simple list of the specific instructional materials being used in the classroom, so that parents could see—before they’re required to enroll their child—which schools are insisting on assigning radical, historically discredited content like the 1619 Project or authors like Ibram Kendi, who tell kids “the only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.”

As Diaz quotes disapprovingly from my AEI brief, “Schools, in turn, would find themselves under a meaningful spotlight for the first time and have to decide whether pushing political activism is truly worth alienating potential enrollees…Schools respond to incentives (particularly financial)…and scaring off the $10,000 (or more) associated with each potential student will force schools to rethink the wisdom of pandering to political organizers rather than committing to classroom fundamentals.”

Yet in her eyes, “This approach is nothing less than a coordinated crusade to defund public schools—one child at a time…” Indeed, rather than welcoming a tool that would empower parents’ to make informed decisions about their kids’ education, she complains, “what it really does is encourage parents to take their kids out of public schools that teach Critical Race Theory and take taxpayer supported education funding elsewhere,” lamenting that it would be “devastating” to the public schools that insist on pushing CRT and related content.

Diaz and the Goldwater Institute clearly agree that academic transparency stands as a direct threat to the increasing politicization of our schools’ curricula. Because unlike legislative “bans” on specific tenets of Critical Race Theory, political activists won’t be able to simply rebrand their materials and evade its reach. 

Perhaps it’s no wonder that as recently as this week, additional states are rolling out academic transparency legislation of their own to thwart this troubling trend in K-12 and restore our schools to a place of academic integrity, rather than political activism. Such leadership is needed now more than ever.

Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy and the Director of the Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy at the Goldwater Institute.

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