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GIORDANO: Teach Black History But Remember to Include Black Progress

At the beginning of Black History Month this year, media outlets like The New York Times,  Axios, and others said many teachers across the country were afraid to discuss slavery, racism, or Jim Crow laws. New state laws and school district policies prevent them from saying anything that might make students uncomfortable.

That media positioning has intensified as the month progressed.

Axios, at the beginning of the month, noted that 14 states have laws that reduced teachers to merely mentioning significant figures in Black history without explaining the racism they faced. The outlet claimed that in addition to the laws, many school districts across the country had added new restrictions.

The New York Times, in its analysis of 2024 Black History Month, interviewed Grace Leatherman, executive director of the National Council for History Education. Leatherman said, “This legislation is very nebulous. There is certainly a chilling effect.”

In Miami, a public school tried to sanitize Black History Month discussions by requiring parents to sign a permission slip for students to listen to a book written by an African American author. The Coral Way School officials claimed they sent the permission slips home because the school district’s legal office determined they needed to do it to comply with the Parental Rights in Education law.

To me, this was a transparent stunt to amplify the big lie that states like Florida don’t want schools to teach about racism. Yahoo News reported state education officials said this was an “absurd” interpretation of a state rule, and it perpetuated the hoax that children in Florida schools needed permission to learn about Black history.

What Florida law is concerned about is using past racist actions to make students of the same race feel they are responsible for what happened generations ago. There have been several incidents where various schools and teachers sought to make White students feel guilty for racist policies and actions of people in the past. Recently passed laws in Oklahoma forbid any instruction that tells students they should feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish,” or any other form of “psychological distress” because of their race or sex.

What kind of educators would want students, some of whom are often very young, to feel guilt or discomfort? Sadly, this notion of making students feel this discomfort because of perceived advantages they have received due to America’s racist past was the goal of a significant number of school districts across the country, which have adopted Critical Race Theory. The laws passed in many states are specifically intended to prevent teaching kids that their race determines if they are a victor or oppressor.

Broadly, I think the curriculum for the month should be readily available for parents to view and assess. School districts should debate age-appropriate sensitivity to materials given the violence and brutality of slavery and later Jim Crow laws and discrimination. Thirdly, there should be an effort to ensure that students know about slavery and the Civil War era, as well as the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.

For me, a key goal is to see in great detail the inhumanity of slavery and the discriminatory laws that were present even after it was abolished while also learning about the evolution of America to a more just country for everyone. Of course, this does not mean that the debate about tweaking our laws to provide equal justice and opportunity must be shut down. It just means great progress has been made and should be part of our national story.

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POWELL: Did America Transform When We Were Busy Doing Something Else?

America has always had a debate on the separation of church and state. In recent years a new separation debate has formed, pitting public institutions against parental rights.

Perhaps the debate was first framed in 1996 when first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book “It Takes a Village” was published. The Dallas Morning News described the book as “a textbook for caring.” An excerpt from Simon & Shuster reads, “Children are not rugged individualists. They depend on the adults they know and on thousands more who make decisions every day that affect their well-being.”

In 2021, the parental rights issue exploded onto the national scene in Virginia when Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe answered a question posed by his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin. 

McAuliffe, a former governor, said, “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” adding, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” The parental rights movement was launched.

Things got ugly fast as parents demanded answers and how race and gender were being addressed in the classroom. What was discovered was schools were using materials aligned with the basic tenets of critical race theory. An article in Education Week defined it this way, “The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”

The Biden administration was all-in with its whole-of-government equity agenda.   In a stunning move, in response to parent protests at school board meetings, Attorney General Merrick Garland seemed to imply that protesters were domestic terrorists. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, wrote, “The Biden administration cannot silence parents for exercising their constitutional rights and treat them like terrorists simply for having concerns about what their children are being taught.”

The point is that by the time parental concerns focused and grew, an entire issue infrastructure had grown around the racial equity movement and metastasized throughout the culture.

The academic community was creating materials for classroom use. The College of William & Mary School of Education posted “What is Critical Race Theory? Resources for Educators” on its website. Rutgers University published, “Understanding Critical Race Theory and How to Incorporate its Principles in the Classroom.” Portland (Ore.) Community College posted “Critical Race Theory Tool Kit.” The Equity Institute had a complete pedagogy ready to download, including “Building Equity in Your Teaching Practice.”

The point being progressive, WOKE culture already controlled the language and messaging of the issue flying under the banner of “diversity, equity and inclusion.”

College admissions widely adopted a two-tier system for admissions. Prestigious high schools like Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., changed its policies to create equitable outcomes, abandoning meritocracy and arguably openly discriminating against Asian students.

Medical schools were not immune. Stanley Goldfarb, a retired nephrology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, worries that we are sacrificing quality in the name of diversity.  He points to the AMA’s three-year strategic plan that conflates racial justice with health equity, changing assessment criteria for first-year medical students to pass/fail, and more medical schools scraping the Medical College Admissions Test. 

Goldfarb has started a nonprofit group called Do No Harm and has written a book, “Take Two Aspirin and Call Me by My Pronouns,” which was favorably reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.

The corporate world is far down the path of adopting diversity, equity and inclusion policies. Forbes Magazine wrote that diversity, equity and inclusion have become a “mainstream buzzword in the corporate world.” It cites the rationale as “micro-aggressions, discrimination and violence is experienced on an ongoing basis, the need for a safe place to create, contribute, and thrive is vital.”

Marketplace reported in November 2022, “Diversity and inclusion manager has been the second-fastest-growing job title over the past five years, right behind vaccine specialist, according to LinkedIn.”

American parents assumed that the curriculum issues could be solved at the ballot box. They were wrong because equity policies are being integrated into our institutions and changing our culture.

On Oct. 31, 2008, then-senator Barack Obama proclaimed, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  

Our culture may have shifted without half the population knowing it.

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Midterm Election Dominated DVJournal’s 2022 Coverage

Looking back at 2022, the most significant stories the Delaware Valley Journal covered involved the midterm election.

The primary campaign for governor and lieutenant governor on the Republican side brought out many candidates. In contrast, on the Democratic side, only Josh Shapiro ran for governor while a few Democrats contested for the lieutenant governor’s nomination. Many Republicans supported Shapiro, who ran as a moderate.

The race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R) drew several candidates in both parties. Democrats fielded Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke during the campaign, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Philadelphia physician Kevin Baumlin, and western Pennsylvania Congressman Conor Lamb.

Among area Senate candidates, conservative author and commentator Kathy Barnette, Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos, Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto, and Montgomery County lawyer Sean Gale all took part in a debate sponsored by the DVJournal that was broadcast on Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick duked it out, spending massive amounts on television ads. With former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, Oz prevailed by a slim margin, only to lose in the general election to Fetterman. Fetterman’s poor showing in a late October debate failed to move the needle since many voters had already cast their ballots via mail-in voting before seeing it.

The DVJournal also sponsored an online debate for Republican lieutenant governor candidates.

The wide field of men and one woman running for the Republican nomination for governor also debated several times. State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) came out on top in the primary despite a last-minute play by party leaders to back former Congressman Lou Barletta. Locally, Delaware County businessman Dave White made a strong showing and Chester County attorney Bill McSwain enjoyed the deep-pocket financial support of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs.

Shapiro, who spent millions on television commercials to paint Mastriano as an extremist, went on to handily win the governor’s race. Many believe redistricting in the Delaware Valley collar counties gave the Democrats a new advantage. Democrats defeated several incumbent Republicans, notably Todd Stephens in Montgomery County, Chris Quinn in Delaware County, and Todd Polinchock in Bucks County.

Other 2022 stories in the region included the saga of private utility companies buying up municipal sewer and water authorities. The DVJ has highlighted Pennsylvanians’ likely higher energy bills with Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), despite opposition from the state legislature.  And the state’s crucial Marcellus Shale natural gas industry remains under assault from the Biden administration’s embrace of the Green New Deal.

This year, many other DVJournal articles focused on parents who are at war with “woke” school boards and school administrators who impose critical race theory (CRT) and gender-fluid ideology on their students and critical race theory (CRT) and gender-fluid ideology on their students as well as stocking school libraries with obscene books.

The Delaware Valley Journal also brought readers the saga of the state House versus progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner that culminated in the House voting to impeach Krasner for mishandling of his official duties, which they allege is a significant factor in the skyrocketing crime rate in the city. An impeachment trial for Krasner is set in the Senate for Jan. 18.

While crime has been a big issue for DVJournal’s 2022 reporting, inflation was also a hot topic with skyrocketing prices for gas, food, and other goods biting into Delaware Valley residents’ budgets.

Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision weighed on the election, causing a rise in Democratic voter registration and driving some women, particularly women in the Delaware Valley suburbs, to the polls. Conversely, the increase in arrests of pro-life activists by the Biden Department of Justice has stirred up passion on the other side of the abortion issue.

And the local reaction to the war in Ukraine is also a concern, with many Ukrainian immigrants living in the area. DVJournal also brought our readers letters from a Ukrainian mother about what it was like to live in that war-torn country.

Amid all the other news vying for attention, the DVJournal has kept its eye on the sad case of the death of Fanta Bility, the 8-year-old girl hit by a bullet fired by police officers. Three Sharon Hill officers pleaded guilty in that case, and a federal lawsuit brought by Bility’s family is pending.

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Great Valley Administrators Participated in CRT Webinar Pushed by State Group

Thirty Great Valley School District administrators watched a webinar advocating the controversial — and some say racist — Critical Race Theory (CRT) distributed by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators last fall. The district had previously denied using CRT materials.

In the webinar, posted on the PASA website, Shayla Reese Griffin with the Justice Leaders Collaborative claims the institutions of American society, including the public school system, are “systemically racist.” That structural racism extends to the healthcare and criminal justice systems as well. She also advances the CRT theory that people are racist even if they never engage in racist behavior and that White people who never display any “racist animus” are still racist.

And, Griffin said, those who oppose teaching CRT are ignorant, naïve, or members of a “right-wing” backlash that is “an organized movement to stop progress.”

The webinar instructs administrators to avoid admitting to teaching CRT if confronted by parents and members of the public at school board meetings.



Bruce Chambers, a former GVSB president, filed a right-to-know request and discovered the webinar, viewed by administrators on Oc. 20, 2021. They then discussed it in small groups. This despite the board members and superintendent telling the public that CRT is not taught in the district.

“At the same time, the administrators took that training,” said Chambers. “They don’t have any credibility with me. It’s part of their responsibility to be transparent and share with the public. They kept it hidden until I asked for it. Parents need to know that administrators are being taught this.”

He said it is unlikely district administrators are not relying on CRT. “It’s beyond the pale,” said Chambers. “It’s nothing to do with education, with kids.”

When word of the video got out, PASA pulled it from its website.

In the video, Griffin urges educators to train students to think differently than previous generations, admitting the goal is the indoctrination of generations of students to develop opinions that differ from those of their parents and grandparents.

“This is going to lead to generations of new kinds of adults, new kinds of White adults, who are unwilling to support far-right policies and cultural norms,” she said.

Griffin described those who oppose teaching CRT as “right-wing,” specifically calling out Manhattan Institute scholar Christopher Rufo, Fox News, Prager University, and Pennsylvania state Rep. Barbara Gleim (R-Carlisle).

A spokesperson for GVSD did not respond to requests for comment.

Gleim was not happy to be named in the video and noted the bill the Michigan group linked her to was actually one sponsored by another legislator.

She spoke to PASA Executive Director Mark DiRocco, who apologized and deleted the webinar video.

“I was disappointed and I was really sad,” said Gleim. ”What can you do? The damage is done.”

“It’s disappointing and you know why it’s disappointing? That with all of the professional development that we need to be giving after COVID, with such a learning gap and this is what we need to start talking about? Instead of really concentrating on the students and their academic achievement, we are spending all this time– that thing was at least an hour long– we are spending all this time teaching administrators what CRT is and how not to tell parents that we actually have it woven in and out of the curriculum.”

“It’s sad and it’s shameful,” Gleim said. “I am for public education and I want to elevate these students and start teaching them the basics.”

On the last slide there is a logo from the Zinn Foundation, which was started by the late historian Howard Zinn, “a confessed Marxist,” she said.

“At the end, there’s a truth oath and it’s sponsored by a Marxist organization,” she said. Ironically, the truth oath appears after Griffin urges administrators to lie to parents. More than 100 administrators statewide signed up for the webinar, she said.

Despite the controversy, DiRocco defended PASA’s decision to make the race-based content available to members. He said PASA requested the free informational webinar because there were a lot of questions about CRT at that time and many of their members “had never heard about it.”

Videos are typically removed from the site in 60 to 90 days because they do not have much server space, he said.

“It was informational,” he said about the pro-CRT video. “We are an apolitical organization. We don’t have any stance on CRT. We don’t have a position on CRT.”

Critics like Chambers reject that claim.

“This course settles it once and for all: the fact that GVSD administrators use Critical Race Theory in our schools,” said Chambers. “What makes this even worse is that PASA is sponsoring this training throughout Pennsylvania. CRT is ingrained in the Pennsylvania education system. We all need to make our voices heard to the school board and the district. It is your money they are using for this course and for the CRT social indoctrination of the children.”

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T/E Parent Wins Release of CRT Documents

Documents released by court order show Tredyffrin/Easttown teachers are learning about Critical Race Theory and how to “transform” the district. However, a lawyer for the school district says the controversial race-based theory is not reaching students.

Parent Ben Auslander contended Tredyffrin/Easttown School District officials violated his First Amendment rights when he tried to take verbal notes on Critical Race Theory (CRT) materials from a vendor.

Auslander, working with America First Legal and Wayne attorney Walter Zimolong, sued the district, winning the release of 166 pages of documents that vendor Pacific Educational Group (PEG), a California-based education consultant supplied to T/E.

PEG claims “systemic racism is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished capacity of all children.” The district had hired the company to run teacher training and shape the curriculum, according to the America First Legal (AFL) press statement.

Auslander wanted to see the PEG materials. District officials told him he could look at the papers, but he could not take notes or pictures and had to look at the materials at the district office.

When Auslander tried to make a voice recording on his cell phone about what he saw, he was told to leave and officials threatened to call the police, the lawsuit said.

The materials show, “PEG’s ‘training’ of the district staff included exercises on’ walking through the barriers to teaching Critical Race Theory at your school,’ and how ‘Critical Race Theory is a vital step in your School Transformation Action Plan,'” according to AFL.

Kenneth Roos, the district solicitor, denied CRT is taught in the school district but acknowledged it is part of “district staff discussions.”

“To be clear, CRT is not taught in TESD schools,” said Roos. “The district has developed its own initiative related to equity, inclusion, and belonging. The district works with multiple vendors to craft the steps to support our own initiative. In some EIB initiative leadership training (including the ones PEG did), district staff discussed with each other (not students) what CRT is and how it fits into the national context. CRT is not an underpinning of what the district teaching in the classroom, and it is not in the TESD curriculum.”

However, former school board Director Kyle Boyer acknowledged at a public meeting in 2021 the district does use elements of CRT in its curriculum.

Zimolong said the newly-released documents counter claims made by Roos. “His claims could only be true if you ignore what the CRT documents bought and paid for by the school district say. Indeed, page eight of the documents sets forth a ‘School Transformation Plan’ using the teaching of CRT to achieve that transformation. The school district’s comments recall Orwell in ‘1984’ who wrote, ‘[t]he party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.'”

The judge’s decision is “a great outcome if you’re in favor of transparency and knowing what is being taught to your kids in school and you don’t like when any government agency tries to sandbag and cover up from a citizen what their tax dollars are being spent on,” said Zimolong.

The litigation is continuing. While obtaining the documents was part of the process, claims regarding how his client was treated by school officials remain to be litigated. Zimolong said officials had violated Auslander’s First Amendment rights by not permitting him to record his thoughts.

Auslander could not be reached for comment.

The next phase of the court case will require depositions from school officials, Zimolong said. After that, there may be a hearing in September or Judge Harvey Bartle III might rule based on the results of the depositions.

For his part, Roos said the district continues to believe the case should be dismissed.

Andrew McClellan, a parent whose son is a student at Conestoga High School, is very unhappy with both the racial and transgender curriculum that he says is being taught in district schools.

“To be honest with you, we’ve known this has been going on for a long time,” said McClellan. “All their transgender promotion and the grooming that they’re doing. They’re sexualizing these kids. It’s all done in secrecy, then they lie to the parents about it…The majority of their policies and curriculum, if you can even call it curriculum, the ideologies, the grooming, it’s all there and they lie to us about it. It’s horrific. How did we get here?”

“It’s been an agenda,” he said. “It’s been a takeover.”

Meanwhile, the AFL lawyers believe these PEG materials illustrate that CRT is being taught in many districts across the country.

“This should forever end all debate. Our innocent children are being viciously indoctrinated with CRT by Marxist radicals. This lawless, extremist, poisonous bigotry must be defeated,” said Stephen Miller AFL president.

AFL Vice-President and General Counsel, Gene Hamilton, said, “These documents establish–once and for all–that CRT is present in public schools across the country. And not only is it present, but it is being funded by taxpayers across this country with hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent in each individual school district.

“The American people do not want their money being spent on these toxic training materials under any circumstance, but especially not while their children attend classes that are overcrowded, their teachers are underpaid, and in school buildings that are in need of repair. Every dollar spent on this nonsense is a dollar wasted,” Hamilton said.

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Parent Claims T/E Violated His First Amendment Rights, Files Lawsuit

A parent filed a federal lawsuit against the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District Tuesday claiming the district violated his First Amendment rights.

Ben Auslander says the school district and its business manager, Arthur McDonnell, violated his constitutional rights by ushering him out from a room where he was perusing documents that outline the Critical Race Theory (CRT) curriculum the district is using.

Using a Right-to-Know request, Auslander asked for all materials pertaining to Pacific Education Group (PEG), the district’s CRT consultant, the suit said. The district had paid PEG $400,000.

CRT is a controversial and divisive theory being used in the curriculum of many school districts and has brought parents out to school board meetings to object. Parents found out about it when their children had in-home schooling due to the pandemic.

Stemming from Marxist philosophy, CRT teaches children they are oppressors if they are White and victims if they are Black. While many districts have denied they teach CRT when confronted by parents, one former T/E board member, Kyle Boyer, openly admitted it at a board meeting last July.

The district denied Auslander’s request “to provide the records, lessons, and materials, but granted an in-camera (in person) review of the material created by PEG,” the suit said. Auslander began to take verbal notes in a smartphone voice recorder about the voluminous material. When he refused to stop,  McDonnell escorted him out.

“McDonnell threatened to hold (Auslander) liable under the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act for recording his own voice,” the suit said. “He also threatened to hold (him) liable under ‘copyright laws.’

“McDonnell also called the school district’s attorney and threatened to call PEG’s attorney,” the suit said. “After Mr. Auslander refused to stop recording his voice, defendant Mr. McDonnell terminated the meeting and ordered (him) to vacate the premises,” the suit said.

Auslander “seeks a preliminary injunction against defendants prohibiting them from interfering with his constitutional right to speak and record his voice while conducting a public records inspection. He also seeks nominal damages.”


T/E student assignment


“School systems across America desperately try to hide from parents the instructional materials developed by highly paid consultants to indoctrinate our children with critical race theory and other biased, partisan materials. In this case, the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District was so desperate to keep information from the public that it blatantly violated Mr. Auslander’s First Amendment right to document the instructional materials used to develop curriculum in his child’s school,” said Gene Hamilton, vice president and general counsel with America First Legal, which filed the lawsuit, along with Villanova lawyer Wally Zimolong.

“We look forward to continuing to stand up for parents like Mr. Auslander and hold school districts accountable that believe that parents surrender their constitutional rights when their children walk through the school doors.”

Kenneth Roos, the T/E solicitor, said Auslander’s First Amendment rights were not violated and that the district was complying with copyright law when officials refused to allow Auslander to make recorded notes about PEG materials.

“The fact is, it was copyrighted and Mr. Auslander was told what the restrictions would be and we followed the restrictions that were laid out by the Office of Open Records,” said Roos. “He was given certain ground rules to follow and he wouldn’t follow those ground rules.”

The district is required to protect the copyright held by PEG, he said.

“Whatever the district did was to protect the copyright. It had nothing to do with the content of materials,” said Roos. “It could have been anything.”

Delaware Valley Journal asked Roos whether Auslander’s First Amendment rights trump copyright law.

“The First Amendment is his right to speech,” said Roos. “It’s not his right to look at a document and make a verbatim oral transcript of it. He had a right to review documents under certain conditions. There’s nothing in the First Amendment that gave him the right to review those documents. The right to review the documents came under the Open Records Act.”

Parent Andrew McClellan, whose son is a student at Conestoga High School, said T/E officials are also paying PEG to train teachers and other staff in CRT. Numerous parents have spoken out at school board meetings against the CRT curriculum, yet the district continues to use it, he said.

“We literally had to get a lawyer to look at the curriculum,” said McClellan, regarding Auslander’s ordeal.

“All of these people from the White House to the school board work for us,” said McClellan. “They have forgotten that. I’m doing my best to remind them.”

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Anthony Coleman Wants Kids to Learn About HD Not CRT

Anthony Coleman wants you to know that he’s a young Black man who is against critical race theory (CRT).

That topic has been in the news lately, as more parents come out against it. And it has even played a role in the Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Coleman has written an anti-CRT guide for parents and teachers about his own theory of HD or Human Dignity.

“It’s based on my experiences in high school,” said Coleman, 30, who graduated from Harriton High School in Lower Merion.

“Seeing how racism is still a serious topic of discussion, and it seems like everyone’s just being divided and not really focusing on what’s most important, which is our humanity. And because I had this conviction and wanted to share that message to others,” he said.

He wanted to go into schools and give presentations to students. But once the COVID pandemic began, he decided to write a guide instead. Coleman, who works as a janitor at a theater, has been advertising his guide “Real Anti-Racism Is Embracing HD, Not CRT” by wearing a sandwich board at public places.

“I’ve been promoting it,” he said. “I’m just trying to get the word out. I’ve been reaching out to different people and organizations.”

“While CRT divides people by the color of their skin and being oppressed or an oppressor, I’m totally against that,” Coleman said. “I want my guide to be a resource for parents and teachers, to provide a different way. So it was cool, things just aligned.”

“Being a mom to a high schooler and watching the agendas being pushed is very difficult,” said Clarice Schillinger, a Horsham resident and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. “The current curriculum being pushed by special interest groups with radical agendas is extremely harmful to our youth, our future, and our nation. This curriculum does not allow for debate or discussion but only allows for teaching our youth what to think and learn instead of how to think and learn. It will take all of us to stand up against this tyranny. I am proud to know and support Anthony in his efforts to remove critical race theory from our schools and society.”

Coleman said, “My thing is we shouldn’t define ourselves by the color of our skin. We should be focusing on what’s important, which is our humanity, rather than racism. We should overcome racism as a whole as a society.”

Also said his Christian faith informs his ideas about race and how to treat other people, he said.

“My high school experience was with my friends, White kids, Black kids,” he said. “I was singing along to a rock song and one of the White girls looked at me. ‘Anthony, you’re not Black. And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ Because she’s basically implying that Black people only listen to rap music. And since this wasn’t a rap song, that I’m not really Black. So then it really hits me to think that many people look at race and just (presume) you have a lot of qualities, too. That there’s race and all these preconceived notions, without really getting a chance to see them as individuals.”

“CRT is the same thing,” he said. “It feels as though they’re pushing preconceived notions that because you’re Black, you’re oppressed…It’s not science. It’s politics.”

Coleman’s guide is available on his website.

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GIORDANO: Examining the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy

This year as we celebrate the life and legacy of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr,, the analysis of his message has morphed into the battle over Critical Race Theory and how American history should be taught in public schools. WWKD, What Would King Do, has been the focal point of much commentary as we look at his speeches and crusades.

I’ve noticed several articles by local students and other commentators pushing back at what they see as the “whitewashing” of his tactics and his persona. It seems to center around arguments that conservatives have created a false construction of King to fight against affirmative action and teaching history in a way that fairly shows the warts of our past and current systemic issues along racial lines.

I think conservatives have to be careful not to overextend in making the case that Dr. King would not line up with the divisive message of Ibram Kendi and Nikole Hannah-Jones. Yet the conservative embrace of Dr. King has a lot of validity and speaks to the case that America has evolved in an incredibly positive way on racial equality and fairness. Conservatives can concede that many people did not fully embrace the vision of Dr. King when he was alive, but over the course of time, it has become the legal and moral centerpiece of our country.

This evolution is the key narrative that is disputed by those who are introducing variants of Critical Race Theory into our area schools. They maintain that if he were alive today, Dr. King would support the notion that America was still a de facto racist society. Isha Chitira, a Lower Moreland High School student, writing recently in the Bucks County Courier Post said, “In reality, King is far more than what we learn in school. Beyond being the face of the civil rights movement, King was staunchly anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist. And while he certainly believed in peace, he also thought that civil unrest was sometimes necessary to bring about change.”

Renn Miller, leader of the Camden Charter School, echoes Chitira writing in The Philadelphia Inquirer by stating, “Children may be taught the words of Dr. King to champion colorblindness, but not the current-day circumstances that render America unwilling to confront matters of race with a concrete policy like voting rights legislation, which liberals can’t deliver on.”

That is the stance President Joe Biden took last week in Georgia when he essentially said that if you oppose him on voting procedures, you are on the same side as Bull Connor, Jefferson Davis, and George Wallace. I don’t believe that Martin Luther King would endorse that sort of nonsense.

So, I think it is a good idea to explore the complexity of the agenda of Martin Luther King. However, the essence of the gospel of King comes back to creating a colorblind society and the rhetoric of Biden and those who don’t want schools to chart the progress America has made toward this goal must be rejected.

I share the outrage of parents across the country who have spoken out at school board meetings about the distorted history that was being taught to their kids. Of course, there were some people fueled by a racial animus that won’t allow them to acknowledge the warts of our past. However, there are people whose ideology will not allow them to see America advancing every day. They throw charges of racism around routinely. It is fine to want to accelerate the pace. It’s wrong to deny it is happening.

Bensalem Township School District Paid $110,650 for ‘Equity Review’

The Bensalem Township School District paid a Maryland-based consulting firm $110,650 to conduct an “Equity Review” and develop a “Diversity Equity and Inclusion” plan alongside the district’s new DEI committee.

The review, published by the district in May, provides 97 pages of analysis of the district’s operations. Underlying the premise of the review’s recommendations are ideas relating to the controversial tenets of critical theory associated with individuals like Ibram X. Kendi.

“Perhaps counter-intuitively, racial inequities cannot be addressed without acknowledging race—which is only a political construct used to create hierarchies in our society—and the inequities that are created by those in power (White and mostly male in the United States),” the review notes in a section criticizing the district’s current “‘color-blind’ approach to education.”

Records obtained via Right-to-Know Law request show that FourPoint Education Partners entered into a consulting agreement with the district on Jan. 27.

The partnership appears to be ongoing as the district continues to work on its DEI plan alongside FourPoint.

Andrea Buchanan is a mother with two children in the district, and is critical of the contract and the audit results. Working with a small group of other concerned parents, she has been tracking the district closely, and also obtained the equity audit contract and report through a Right-to-Know request.

“I think it’s a waste of money, or it could be better spent elsewhere,” Buchanan said. “It could be better spent on the learning loss through Covid, maybe hiring some tutors to help with parents or help get these kids up to speed where they need to be.”

The report FourPoint returned to the district is packed with academic language, much of which is aimed at otherwise innocuous subjects, including empowering principals and providing resources to students learning English as a second language.

“Systemic coherence is a journey, not a destination; therefore, effective school districts are constantly working to align theory of change, strategy, and other elements to improve school performance while bombarded by external factors (i.e., a local election or a pandemic),” one of the report’s conclusions said.

However, FourPoint is absolute in recommending that the district change its practices to adhere to ideas common among left-wing activists.

“Every policy and practice must be equitable and antiracist at its core—from how educators are hired and supported to how educational resources are allocated across schools and students to how families gain access to information to support their children,” it says.

And the district has, so far, been public about adopting this race-focused approach to education. In June, it hosted an “Equity Summit” that was open to the public.

“Bensalem Township School District unanimously passed a resolution supporting the development of an anti-racist school climate on August 26, 2020,” the the Summit announcement noted. “We have undergone an independent review of our District and are ready to begin our work with this kick-off event.”

The event included Dr. Cherrissa Gibson, the Director of Equity, Diversity, and Education at Pennsbury School District. Gibson is currently a defendant in a lawsuit against Pennsbury filed by local parents who claim to either have been silenced at school board meetings or seen their comments struck from the record of meetings after Gibson claimed they used “coded racist terms,” according to the plaintiffs.

“We feel like education has gotten off track of what it’s supposed to be,” Buchanan said. “We’ve gotten very far away from the basics: reading, writing, arithmetic.”

“The [DEI] things that are being pushed in school should be taught at home.”

Requests for comment to Bensalem Township School District were not returned.


This article first appeared in Broad and Liberty.

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HUTCHINS: Finding True Equality in the Classroom, What Is the Answer?

When navigating the present and charting the future, it is critical to be informed by the past. In this way, a racially just United States requires a deep examination of how centuries of racial inequities have propelled injustices in our nation’s economic, criminal justice, educational, and health care systems. However, those who viscerally advocate “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) – an inelegant term for a movement that declares that race is exclusively at the heart of all social interactions and structures – also risk overlooking the past when it comes to setting a path forward.

The civil rights movement was successful when it emphasized our commonalities as Americans; our common hopes, dreams, struggles, and destiny being tied together. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rejected standing apart as a solution, saying, “We cannot walk alone.” This is what CRT proponents get wrong and what parents across the country are rejecting. We cannot teach our children to see themselves as defined and destined by race, that a trait is White or Black, that the American dream is only relevant for some.

I started my career as an advocate for civil rights by leading protests and taking an adversarial approach to address the injustices plaguing communities of color, particularly around policing. As I did this work, I began to engage with the law enforcement officers I was marching against. I came to learn of their perspectives, the difficulty in the jobs they do each day, that the world they wanted for their children was consistent with my own. And, I remembered the wisdom of the civil rights leaders who marched together across race, gender, age, and religion. Over the course of the past two decades, I began to speak more to our shared humanity; that there was no problem we could not solve by working in tandem. Taking this approach has changed hearts and built more bridges than I could have ever imagined possible.

As our nation wrestles with the continuing presence of systemic inequalities, educators in local communities are facing similar decisions. Yes, we must absolutely equip children with the knowledge of how racism created inequalities throughout history that still exist today. But an academic theory that was meant to be an analytical tool for sophisticated thinkers should not have its essence distilled into teaching tools or academic policy. Doing so has the potential to lead to teaching students damaging lessons, such as only seeing themselves through race, or counterproductive policy, such as canceling gifted and talented programs because not enough Black students are selected.

We must do better. When teaching children about how to understand that which might make them different, we also teach them what makes them the same. When we teach about the flaws of the founders, we also teach about their accomplishments. Rather than get rid of a test that has unequal results by race, we must implement a policy that enables all students to test to their potential.

The lesson we teach, even if unintended, cannot be that we are set apart, ashamed if white, or hopeless if of color. Parents across the country are rejecting this instruction at school board meetings and at the ballot box. We should take their lead and remember the lessons of our past even as we address its faults. Our responsibility is to equip our children to sit at tables of sisterhood and brotherhood, together.

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