The battle over whether critical race theory, white privilege and transgender politics should be disseminated to school age children in Alaska and across the nation is likely to intensify in the coming months.
Last week, America’s largest teachers’ union vowed to use its extensive network and resources to expand the highly controversial philosophies in public schools across the country, including Alaska.
The three-million-member National Education Association (NEA) includes 13,000 thousand Alaskans. These are teachers, librarians, school counselors, classroom aids and others who work in Alaska’s public schools.
More than 6,700 NEA delegates, including 61 from Alaska, participated in the June 30 to July 3 national gathering. Meeting virtually over four days, the participants established overarching legislative and policymaking aims for state affiliates.
Action items approved at the national level include a resolve to teach and publicize critical race theory, while actively fighting against those who oppose such efforts.
The NEA stated that it will focus resources on rooting out what it deems to be “empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cis-heteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society.”
The teachers also approved an action item to research and undermine groups that oppose critical race theory.
To accomplish this, the teachers state that they will “oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project,” which alleges that America was founded on fundamentally racist grounds. The union also pledged to partner with Black Lives Matter activists and the Zinn Education Project in calling for rallies on Oct. 14 – George Floyd’s birthday. The teachers hope to make it a teaching moment to highlight “structural racism and oppression” that plagues America today.
The Zinn Education Project recently posted a statement that has been signed by more than 5,000 teachers, including more than a dozen from Alaska, who vow to break any state laws that ban teaching critical race theory in schools.
In addition to advancing critical race theory, the NEA voted to decolonize curriculum by eradicating what it calls “white supremacy culture.” This will be done, in part, by training rank and file teachers to be critical race theory activists and Black Lives Matter proponents in their classrooms.
In addition to actively advancing critical race theory, the teachers also approved an action item to research and undermine groups that oppose their efforts.
One action item calls on state affiliates to fight bills that ban transgender male athletes from competing against girls.
“The attacks on anti-racist teachers are increasing, coordinated by well-funded organizations such as the Heritage Foundation,” the union stated in justifying this vote. “We need to be better prepared to respond to these attacks so that our members can continue this important work.”
The Heritage Foundation is a renown conservative think tank that has the mission “to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”
In addition to fighting conservative groups, the NEA also voted to develop a plan to resist any state legislation that hinders educators from teaching identity politics focused on gender identity, sexual orientation and a host of other personal identifiers. This effort includes recruiting Hollywood actors, musicians and athletes to advocate on behalf of the NEA.
Another major focus at the recent meeting was the promotion of transgender and other sexual identities among students and teachers.
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One newly approved action item calls on state affiliates to use resources to fight legislation that bans transgender male athletes from competing in girls-only sports. Additionally, teachers voted to fight measures that restrict gender confused youth from accessing what the union calls “gender-affirming health care.” This term is often used to include counseling as well as powerful cross-sex hormones that block the natural process of puberty. Along these same lines, the union passed a resolution stating that LGBTQ+ students have a right not to reveal their sexual orientation, identity or expression.
With regard to its own membership the union agreed to create a training program to serve its transgender and transitioning members.
On the academic front the NEA is working on a plan to replace test scores as a means of measuring student achievement. The union claims tests are “not the best measurement of equity or educational growth, but it, unfortunately, appears to continue to dominate states’ and districts’ plans in driving equity.”