- The Washington Times
Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A group of parents alarmed by what they see as left-wing indoctrination sweeping through K-12 schools on Tuesday announced a new online clearinghouse of information designed to help families navigate what’s happening in their children’s classrooms.

Nicole Neily, president of the group, Parents Defending Education, said parents are hungry for information to fight back against a curriculum that increasingly promotes racial and social justice ideology.

“There’s this feeling among some that this is just a New York and California thing, but it’s not; it’s everywhere,” she said. “It’s in private schools, parochial schools and red states.”

Schools across the country have adopted classwork and instructional models based on critical race theory, which teaches that the U.S. legal and governance systems are inherently racist and retain economic and political power for Whites by oppressing people of color.

In some classes, students are divided into groups according to their status as “oppressors” and “victims,” “privileged” or “resistors,” based on immutable characteristics such as the color of their skin.

The lessons have sparked a series of legal challenges in state and federal courts by parents and students.

Supporters contend the curriculum is a necessary rejoinder to decades of White supremacist thinking that has permeated society. They say the goal must be “anti-racist” rather than not racist and that their approach will educate children about advantages they have been given or handicaps they have been burdened with by systemic racism.

Parents Defending Education describes itself on its website this way: “Parents Defending Education is a national grassroots organization working to reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas. Through network and coalition building, investigative reporting, litigation, and engagement on local, state, and national policies, we are fighting indoctrination in the classroom — and promoting the restoration of a healthy, non-political education for our kids.”

Ms. Neily said thousands of parents are unaware of what’s going on or are deeply disturbed by it but unsure how to fight back, leaving them feeling alone and helpless. She envisions DefendingEd.org as a network of concerned parents who can swap horror stories and seek political or legal solutions.

Consequently, the website’s stated mission is to “empower, expose and engage” parents. The site provides a forum for sharing anecdotes and resources to take action including primers on how to start social media campaigns, attending public hearings and making public information act requests of school boards and school officials.

The website features an “IndoctriNation Map” map, where parents can look up scores of school districts and “learn about parents organizations, incidents and FOIAs.” As more information is gathered, new flags will be posted on the map, the group says.

The “Deep Dive” section of the site provides links to news accounts of lawsuits and other issues that arise in response to the critical race theory wave.

Much of the information targets public schools, Ms. Neily said, though critical race theory has spread far and wide.

Some of the tiniest schools in the U.S., from the Dalton School in New York City to Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, where America’s richest families send their children, have made headlines recently for lumping their students into sinister or sympathetic groups based on their race.

“If you want to send your kid to Social Justice Country Day, you’re free to do so, but we must do what we can to not allow the imposition of these top-down solutions,” Ms. Neily said.

Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who serves as Defending Education’s vice president of strategy and investigations, said she believes a tipping point is approaching in education.

“Our country is in a crisis today because of ideologues pumping divisive, polarizing ideas into our classrooms, teaching them to our children,” she said. “Educators have a moral duty to teach our kids how to read, write and think — not dictate what they must think,” she said. “As parents, we must stand together to defend education, challenge radicalization and inspire our children with positive values.”

Many parents feel at sea when they discover what is happening and need a tool to navigate waters that critical race theorists leave deliberately murky, said Christopher Rufo, a national advocate against critical race theory who advises Parents Defending Education.

“Parents across the country are mobilizing against critical race theory in schools,” he told The Washington Times. “All Americans should stand against the principles of race essentialism, collective guilt and neo-segregation.”

The group has filed motions to intervene in court cases, such as one in New York brought by Integrate NYC Inc., which advocates for more critical race theory. The lawsuit charges that New York City’s magnet schools and gifted programs are racist because they do not include enough Black and minority students.

It is one of several lawsuits in the courts pushing for more critical race theory or objecting to its implementation. Some state legislators are looking at laws that would ban education materials and practices based on critical race theory.

It is telling, Ms. Neily said, that critical race theory materials are often slipped into curricula with a minimum of discussion or parental involvement, which creates another reason for a kind of one-stop shopping site for opponents.

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and we need to encourage people to show up and demand answers to what in a lot of cases amounts to emotional abuse of children,” she said. “It’s actually a small group of people who want this, and we need to shine a light on what is happening.”

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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