Monday, the Collier County School Board (CCSB) voted to approve the purchase of new textbooks for the 2021-2022 school year. The vote faced vehement outrage from parents concerned with pro-Critical Race Theory (CRT) and pro-Black Lives Matter (BLM) statements from the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH).
The CCSB argued that the textbooks do not explicitly contain CRT and that they do not support CRT.
HMH has blog and social media posts portraying political statements like “Black lives matter.” Upon a request to clarify or take the statements down, the publisher said that the phrase “black lives matter” is not political. The statement remained on HMH’s website. The Collier Board accepted the response as valid and proceeded to approve the textbooks from the publisher.
Critics of HMH point out that Black Lives Matter is a political, left-wing, social justice organization that promoted riots and fomented the formation of autonomous zones across urban areas in the United States. These resulted in enormous property damage, violence, and loss of life. Additionally, the organization’s co-founder, Patrisse Cullors, is self-described as a “trained Marxist,” along with other organizers.
Parents are concerned that HMH, which supports the ideas of Black Lives Matter, will induce political bias into the textbooks and present historically inaccurate or politically biased information in the teachings of schoolchildren.
Last July, the superintendent of Collier Schools, Kamela Patton, sent an email supporting Black Lives Matter and denouncing systemic racism.
“We have all been witnesses to the history of the depersonalization and marginalization of Black people. The time for the injustices associated with racism to end is long overdue. As a School District, and as a community, we must teach our students, and teach one another, that respecting human worth and human dignity, respecting the uniqueness of each individual, and respecting the cultural and historical uniqueness of each community are values we can all agree upon, share, and must be incorporated into daily practice,” the email read.
The superintendent’s statements that group Americans together by race drew outrage among those on the right.
Referring to various Americans of differing races as “communities” harkens back to the Jim Crow and slavery era, a dark aspect of American history that has been corrected through legal reform by the Republican Party after the American Civil War.
CRT was not the only issue parents had with the textbooks. At a hearing where parents argued against current textbook teachings, an image from a page of a textbook read “D is for Democracy” with Uncle Sam depicted in the cartoon.
A democracy entails all legislation being enacted through popular vote of every citizen. The United States, however, was founded as a Republic confined by a constitution. A Republic’s defining characteristic is representatives convening in a formal body to craft laws for the country.
The graphic was argued to favor centralized government because of the tendency of democracies to grow the power of government over time.
Stark opposition resulting from the CCSB’s actions continues a trend among the New Right movement in America, inspired by paleolibertarian and populist ideas gaining traction in the mid-to-late 2010s, that supports a common “American” identity, rather than multiple identities focusing on race.
Opponents of CRT argue for historical accuracy and objectivity when teaching American youth in education. Proponents of it, typically on the modern left, favor insertion of argumentative and revisionist history that negatively alters perceptions of the founding of the United States.
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