July 30, 2021
By Matt Beienburg
A California governor once declared that “America’s best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead.” Now, three decades after Ronald Reagan offered these hopeful words, the Golden State finds itself mired in economic, social, and political disarray, while its elites busy themselves by throwing in with increasingly radical ideologies such as Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Yet even now, new signs of hope are beginning to emerge as parents and families begin to take a stand against such corrosive movements.
As reported this week in the Los Angeles Times Daily Pilot, California parents in Orange County have taken to the district’s school board to help put a stop to the racially divisive CRT-aligned content now threatening to further overwhelm their schools at the direction of state lawmakers. As the Pilot notes, not a single parent who appeared the board’s panel on CRT defended this new style of teaching. Instead, they implored those in power to recognize its destructiveness:
Linda Padilla-Smyth, mother of two biracial daughters, worried the curriculum would divide students by teaching them to cast white people as oppressors and people of color as victims.
“I do not want my children to hate either side of their heritage,” she said. “Sacramento [officials have] taken it upon themselves to indoctrinate our children to areas that are sensitive and require deep thought and care.”
Indeed, despite brazen denials from media and union apologists claiming CRT is nowhere to be found in our nation’s K-12 schools, such parents know firsthand the toxic influence of these materials, the use of which is well-documented—especially so in California. Moreover, as observed in the Pilot, these parents’ concerns reflect far more than mere questions of political preference:
Maimon Schwarzschild, a law professor at the University of San Diego, discussed [at the board meeting] how school districts who expose students and teachers to racialist or racially abusive lessons and curricula may be legally liable under certain federal and state anti-discrimination statutes, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“I urge the board, at the very least, to ascertain as fully and accurately as possible what is being taught and inculcated and in what ways in the county public’s school systems, and to ensure that parents and citizens have a full opportunity to be informed of the education—or possible miseducation—being provided in Orange County.”
As Dr. Schwarzchild’s testimony makes clear, parents and school board members must have the tools to stand up to such content, starting with basic access to, and awareness of, the content being introduced into their kids schools in the first place.
It is for precisely this reason that the Goldwater Institute has launched its Academic Transparency initiative as part of its broader efforts to combat Critical Race Theory and similarly corrosive political ideologies now permeating our schools, businesses, and society. The Institute’s model legislation—adaptable for use by state lawmakers and local school district boards alike—would ensure that parents and governing board members would finally have an honest and unobstructed view of the content being assigned to students, allowing them to engage with and respond to it before their children are locked into a given schooling environment or bring a politically charged assignment home from school.
California, like the nation at large, now stands at a crossroads between the enduring principles of American liberty—equality before the law, rational thought, personal responsibility—and ideologies like CRT that seek to overthrow them in the name of racial justice.
We may not yet know whether President Reagan’s words will hold true, but if California and the United States are to prosper in the years ahead, they must start by rejecting those who would inflame and divide the rising generations by race. Supporting parents in their fight against CRT is an excellent place to start.
To read more about the Goldwater Institute’s efforts to shine a light on what kids are being taught in school, visit https://goldwaterinstitute.org/academictransparency/.
Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy and the Director of the Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy at the Goldwater Institute.