Elections can be confusing. Voters must wade through a welter of competing claims and narratives. So we should be grateful for any moment of clarity, when a candidate reveals what principals animate and guide them.
Candidate Karen Smith, running for her third term on the Central Bucks School Board, offered the voters her own moment of clarity recently. When asked by The League of Women Voters how she would ensure implementation of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (DOE) “Culturally-relevant” educator training, she admitted: “I would encourage and fund professional development through respected organizations such as Rethinking Schools…”
Any parent might reasonably ask themselves, just who exactly is this group that we are supposed to “encourage and fund” with tax dollars? Rethinking Schools is an advocacy organization and member of the Teacher Activist Groups coalition. On their website, Rethinking Schools boasts of their commitment to “…strengthening public education through social justice teaching and education activism” and to “…promoting equity and racial justice.”
Just how their ideas for “social justice” play out in the real world can be seen by their recent response to terrorism in Israel. October 7, 2023 was the single deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. Horrific reports document Hamas terrorists brutally beheading, burning, torturing, raping and kidnapping innocent civilians. And for those who doubt the veracity of these videos, we would like to remind them that videos were shot and gleefully shared by Hamas terrorists themselves. Most serial killers try at least to cover up their crimes, but not Hamas.
Four days after the attack, Rethinking Schools published an article blaming the United States and Israel for the terrorism. They did not even mention the role of Hamas. Here is a quote they cite: “The bloodshed of today and the past 75 years traces back directly to U.S. complicity in the oppression and horror caused by Israel’s military occupation. The U.S. government consistently enables Israeli violence and bears blame for this moment. The unchecked military funding, diplomatic cover, and billions of dollars of private money flowing from the U.S. enables and empowers Israel’s apartheid regime.”
So what to make of the reaction at some of our nation’s most prestigious universities? A professor at Cornell University who called the Hamas attacks “exhilarating” and “energizing”? Or what to think when 34 student organizations at Harvard assert that they “…hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence”? Should we be surprised, when groups like Rethinking Schools are whispering their notion of “social justice” into the ears of our school children?
Karen Smith’s promise to bring Rethinking Schools into our district provides us all with a moment of clarity. It strikes us as being a lazy, poorly examined attempt to bring a hateful ideology into our classroom. And as we have seen, ideology has a way of leaking out of the classroom into the real world, with real consequences. We wish Ms. Smith had done more research before she endorsed an organization that her constituients can not possibly agree with. We will fight to keep politics out of the classroom. Karen has demonstrated that she will not.