CRT: The Right Should Twist the Knife

The American right suddenly finds themselves in the unusual position of having a little bit of political momentum and public sentiment on their side. It’s a huge opportunity, and my fear is that the GOP is so accustomed to losing, they’ll find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Yes, we’re talking CRT here, but hear me out.

A handful of states have signed actual laws to prevent public schools from teaching CRT (or “honest history,” depending on how much the pundit class is mincing words) and a decent number of other states are in the process of passing similar ones. There’s been a surprisingly large public outcry from parents about CRT, and people like Christopher Rufo have proven skilled at shining a light on the laughably dogshit curriculum that teachers have been exposing little kids to.

Yes, “expose” and “little kids” are the both correct terms here, and for once I’m not using them in reference to certain libertarians. A kid being in proximity to CRT is about as healthy as a kid being in proximity to nuclear waste, and we’re talking about very young kids here — elementary school children in many cases.

But this post isn’t designed to detail the stupidity of elementary school CRT. (If you want, you can see some alarming details in last week’s newsletter). Rather, I’m here to ask you to consider the idea that simply stopping CRT would be a short-sighted mistake by American conservatives, and that the right should take this much further. Killing CRT shouldn’t be a final goal of the right in terms of Education, it should be the opening move to control the center of the board.

This is a golden opportunity for the right to take a political wrench to the sputtering engine that is the failing public school system’s progressive bureaucracy.

For the sake of argument, let’s entertain the idea that elementary school CRT is a sound concept, and that it’s worth taking seriously.

If this is the case, why would we ever begin to consider letting public schools take a crack at something like this? Public school teachers have embarrassingly low rates of success at teaching reading or math, let alone complex sociopolitical theories involving class, race, and power structures. Letting a public school teacher “educate” little kids on this type of thing would be like letting a summer lifeguard perform advanced brain surgery.

Most Public School Teachers are Not Effective At Their Jobs

Let’s consider for a moment what it means to be effective. Being effective means that one is “successful in producing the desired or intended result.” Pretty simple.

Adding to this, also consider Peter Drucker’s take that “Efficiency is doing things right; Effectiveness is doing the right thing,” to which I agree entirely.

Now examine the mission statement of the U.S. Department of Education:

ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

Overview and Mission Statement, US Department of Education

Applied, one might say that and effective public school teacher is to produce scholastic achievement and foster excellence across the student body. By the numbers, do public elementary school teachers do that? No. Not even close.

It can’t be that bad, can it?”

Let’s look at 4th grade reading stats from an aggregate of all US states:

It’s pretty bad. Except for asian kids, no demographic averages as “proficient” in reading more than 50% of the time, with black kids being proficient at reading only 18% of the time. This is an absurdly high rate of failure.

NCES also shows that public elementary schools spend about $13,000 per student, and that about 80% of that expense goes to teacher salaries and benefits.

The median elementary school teacher salary is $47K annually, which is much higher than the national median single income of $36K. So in median cases, elementary school teachers are making (much) more money for being less effective than private sector employees.

Public elementary school teachers are producing “basic” reading skills (note: “basic” is worse than “proficient” in the NCES metric) at an average best of 82% and an average worst of 47%.

What do you think would happen to an Amazon warehouse worker who packaged the correct items 82% of the time? Do you think he’d get promoted to a $47K salary?

What do you think would happen to a Wal-Mart cashier who proficiently handled customer payments 47% of the time?

These failure rates are real outcomes in public elementary schools.

Do advocates of elementary school CRT really want to take the position that the very same employees who struggle to teach reading at more than 50% proficiency should also be the ones to instruct children on complex sociopolitical theories? Make it make sense.

What to do? The right should reframe the argument. This isn’t a situation where CRT is a bad theory being presented by effective teachers overseen by benevolent administrators. CRT is a goofball theory being taught by ineffective teachers overseen by malevolent or incompetent (or both) administrators. It’s not just CRT that needs to be stopped — the whole thing is due for an overhaul.

Will stopping CRT “win” the culture war? Not even close. But it’s a real start. The right is such a stranger to winning in general however, that taking a small victory here might be viewed as good enough — and it’s not. They have to keep pushing.

Politics: Punish Your Enemies

CRT has given the right an “in” to scrutinize what’s really going on in our elementary schools. They should find what hurts and push on it.

Let’s consider our inputs and outputs of the situation:

Inputs:

  1. Students

  2. Teachers

  3. Administrators

Outputs (Fourth Graders in 2019):

  1. 35% NAEP reading proficiency

  2. 41% NAEP math proficiency

  3. 36% NAEP science proficiency

So which input(s) needs to be fixed? Where is the problem? Are these poor outcomes the fault of the student? Essentially the only argument public school teachers and administrators could make here is that “We’re really smart and really good at our jobs, but all of these kids are dumb.” They’re in an indefensible position. It’s weak. And the right should punish them for it through reform (real reform) and greatly increased transparency and accountability.

“It’s not the kids, it’s our budget!”

Teachers already make more than median workers. So would simply paying teachers more money make them better teachers than they are now? If “yes,” the obvious answer here is that lazy teachers — not George Washington’s slave ownership — is what’s holding students back. Is the argument really just “As a teacher, maybe if I got a raise, I’d care enough to teach the poor kids how to read?” That’s a non-starter.

Would schools allocating more time to reading and math improve outcomes? Well, if time is the chokepoint, then why would it be important to teach superfluous concepts like CRT when you could be focusing on reading or math? Its another non-starter.

The smart move from the right would be to force reform at the state level, and especially in elementary schools. The elementary school years are, well, elementary. Spending time poisoning little kids with Monsanto-grade shitlib civics lessons is a criminally negligent use of time — especially when half of the kids are behind on reading. Kids should split their time between playing, athletics, and fundamental concepts like reading and math. (There’s a time and place for thinking about sociology, but frankly kids should wait for marriage.)

Elementary school is not grad school; administration can’t just float along on laughable curriculum that never produces a tangible result. Kids either read or they don’t. It’s binary. And parents expect their kids to read.

Academia is conditioned to perpetuate outlandish social theories because grad school is a self-licking ice cream cone of elite overproduction. But the kids who go off to grad school can already read and write — the kids in 4th grade cannot. And this makes the inclusion of CRT in the elementary school curriculum an unjustifiable position, especially when the homeowner class is footing the bill for local public schools through property taxes. The right has the opportunity here; this is a tactical miscalculation by the progs.

Let’s think back to above, where Peter Drucker taught us that effectiveness was doing the right things and efficiency was doing things right.

Teachers and administrators are not doing the right things, and the things that they are doing, they’re not doing right. Kids are suffering for it, and CRT should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

There’s a whole demographic of net tax payers who are already tired of the local school board after a year and a half of Zoom classes and ham-fisted covid response, and they’re waiting for someone to take the reins and seize power. This should be a layup for anyone in state government on the populist right.

Where to Begin

For starters, I’m a fan of Matt Walsh’s idea that classes should be on camera.

There isn’t a strong argument against it. There is, of course, the very heated emotional argument against it. To put it bluntly: hoes mad. There’s a whole army of overweight, Vote Blue white women in novelty eyeglasses who hate the idea. And when the women in ugly glasses are mad, it means you’re on the right track.

Our kids aren’t being taught to read. Our kids aren’t being taught to do math. And our kids — elementary school kids — are killing or trying to kill themselves in record numbers. Over a million kids younger than eighteen went to the ER in 2015 for suicidal behavior, and 43% of them were between the ages of five and eleven. Let that sink in. Think about how bad things must be if a six year old wants to commit suicide. So why shouldn’t we be keeping an eye on the classroom?

Many private sector workers are already under surveillance when they work. Cashiers, warehouse workers, bank tellers, retail staff, salespeople, truckers, and Lyft drivers are all constantly being recorded, their e-mails archived, or their movements tracked by GPS.

So what makes teachers special? Why are they beyond accountability? Wouldn’t a good teacher want to have a camera rolling to protect themselves against allegations of misconduct? Teachers don’t have a right to be in private with young children.

“But wait — isn’t surveillance Orwellian?!”

Wake up, dummy. The government already reads all your emails, records all your phone calls, tracks your location, and scans your car’s tag probably thousands of times a month. You’re already living in an Orwellian nightmare. There is no high ground to take here. I’ll refer you to a favorite quote of mine from Malcolm X: “only a fool would let his enemies teach his children.” If you can’t avoid public school for your kids, the least you could do is keep an eye on the classroom.

The right has a huge opportunity here to force teachers — many of whom are progressive Democrats — into a situation where they have to actually do their jobs and teach kids to read and write, rather than planting the ideological seeds for students to become future SSRI-addicted spreadsheet job dog moms, degenerate sex freaks with crippling mental health problems, or savage little animals using tasers to carjack Uber drivers.

My guess is the good teachers would appreciate the opportunity to focus on core concepts rather than keeping up with woke policy.

The right also has a huge opportunity here to replace negligent, corrupt, or activist administrators who fail to keep teachers in check. It’s as important to have conservative school administrators as it is to appoint conservative federal judges, but for some reason this isn’t Politics 101 for the GOP. Time to wise up.

The other reality here is that most elementary school teachers are probably as disgruntled and disenfranchised by school board bureaucracy as parents, and having competent administration would, I’m sure, be a welcome change of pace.

Parents are waking up to these issues, and if there’s anything people will fight for, it’s their children. If the GOP is to become relevant again, the controversy surrounding CRT is giving them a lot of runway upon which to make it happen. I’d suggest they swing for the fences.

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