PURELY POLITICAL, By James Buckley
A woman I’m calling Teacher currently teaches at the high-school level in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. In deference to protecting her — not from her friends, acquaintances and co-workers who surely know who she is, but from others who may not wish her well but who don’t know her at all — she will continue to remain unnamed for now.
In last week’s column, Teacher revealed that yes, critical race theory is being taught at all levels within the school system. We touched upon some class agendas in the earliest grades (pre-school, first and second grades).
We also learned that Teacher has a difficult task maintaining discipline in her classes because of administration policies that appear to encourage bad behavior, or at least don’t punish such behavior.
When I asked her why the administration didn’t or couldn’t punish habitual miscreants, she said the administration responded by telling her that she doesn’t know what their home life is like and that she has to accept such behavior. Since she is not authorized to ask about their home life, she’ll never know what it’s like. In any case, she says, “I don’t think I have to accept that behavior.”
Teacher believes that every student needs to learn how to come to school and not bring “all of that” with them, but she is pressured to lower her expectations, to “accept the disrespect and the abuse and the negativity from kids, because their life is so bad.”
Teacher says she knows that “It doesn’t have to be done that way.”
Are teachers advised to treat students of color differently from white kids? I wondered.
She ponders briefly before answering, “Not directly, but I think indirectly in the sense that, as an administrator told me last week: ‘Well, they have all these problems, and we can’t force them to do anything.’ And I’m like, “Well actually you can. Just because they have these problems (at home) does not mean they get to come and be a tyrant in my classroom. That’s not helpful to all the other kids that are here to actually learn, because there’s a lot of them that are doing a really good job.”
Teacher suggests that disruptive behavior should be dealt with somewhere else and that when the troublemaker is ready, he or she can be sent back to her class. She says what they’re doing now is basically mainstreaming bullies and often undermining teachers who are trying to use a more productive approach.
THE TRANSGENDER PUSH
Part of the pre-school, first- and second-grade curriculum in the Santa Barbara school system (and likely, across the nation, especially on the coasts) is a focus on informing young minds about “gender stereotypes” and how they shouldn’t be too quick to judge. Apparently, this movement began with the “Anti-Bullying” movement. Naturally, no one of good faith wants to see anyone, especially a child, be bullied. But it’s gone from opposing bullying to promoting the position that children really do know what they want and what they really are and that parents and other adults have no right to interfere.
Blogger Matt Walsh takes on the subject in his new best-selling “Johnny The Walrus” children’s book in which a young boy decides that he is a walrus. He puts wooden spoons in his mouth, socks on his hands, and claims the wood floor is his ocean and the carpet is his shore. After speaking with teachers and “experts” in child development, Johnny’s mother is persuaded to help her son actually “become” a walrus because he believes he is one and children always know what they are.
One of the experts explains that Johnny should start eating worms in order to “transition,” and that at some point, he’ll have to consider surgically removing his feet and replacing them with fins. The mother is concerned but receives support from internet sites and various pro-walrus organizations, so she brings Johnny to his potential new home – the zoo – where she introduces him to real walruses.
I won’t give away the ending, but the book is meant as a parody of the support boys who believe they are girls and girls who believe they are boys are receiving from school administrators and “experts.” It’s a good, quick read, and seems like the kind of book that should be assigned to public school children under the age of, say, 10, rather than “My Princess Boy,” “I Am Jazz,” (an autobiographical picture book written by a transgender 13-year-old with “a girl brain but a boy body”), and other such material.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Well, of course, black lives matter, as do all lives; there’s nothing controversial about that.
This organization grew out of the acquittal of George Zimmerman; he was charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager. The movement took off when Eric Garner died after being held in a chokehold by a police officer in Staten Island, N.Y., and Michael Brown was shot and killed by a policeman in Ferguson, Mo.
The death of George Floyd accelerated BLM’s cause to the point of riots and demonstrations in the summer of 2020 and again in ’21, and the wholesale acceptance of BLM’s legitimacy by many national institutions as well as schools and colleges.
Alicia Garza, a self-described “trained Marxist,” Patrisse Khan-Cullors, who calls herself an “artist, organizer and freedom fighter” and Opal Tometi, a “student of liberation theology,” are the three women who launched and successfully guided BLM into the institutional powerhouse it has become.
The group’s appeal is hard to resist when it calls for empathy, loving engagement and diversity, or that it is unapologetically black. Who could deny those goals and attributes listed among their “13 Guiding Principles?”
Another of BLM’s Guiding Principles, however, is advocating for the transgender experience: “Everybody has the right to choose their own gender,” it states, “by listening to their own heart and mind. Everyone gets to choose if they are a girl or a boy or both or neither or something else, and no one else gets to choose for them.”
Santa Barbara Unified introduced a program during Black History Month (February) that included a “National Black Lives Matter Week of Action PLC Discussion and Collaboration Guide.” The Daily Themes for sixth through 12th grades were Monday: Restorative justice, empathy, and loving engagement; Tuesday: Diversity and Globalism; Wednesday: Trans-affirming, Queer Affirming, and Collective Value; Thursday: Intergenerational Black Families and Black Villages; Friday: Black Women and Unapologetically Black.
It does seem there is room for compromise and discussion with this movement, as many of its stated goals are admirable and timely. But its leaders and spokespeople make it extremely difficult to dialogue with them when they bristle at the idea that not only do black lives matter, but that “all lives matter.”
The inclusion of the transgender theme too, has many people shaking their collective heads wondering how that fits into the rest of the organization’s “13 Guiding Principles,” and what it has to do with being black. And, perhaps most importantly, why transgender as a subject needs to be introduced to 5-, 6- and 7-year-old children at all.
Next week we’ll take a closer look at critical race theory.
James Buckley is a longtime Montecito resident. He welcomes questions or comments at email@example.com.