Yesterday the Assembly passed a bill to make Critical Race Theory (dubbed “ethnic studies”) a high school graduation requirement. The vote was 58-9, and I gave the only speech in opposition. Text of the speech is below the video.
When the first version of this curriculum was released, it was universally condemned. The Legislative Jewish Caucus said it “echoes the propaganda of the Nazi regime.”
You’d think our response would be to scrap the whole thing. Instead, we said: let’s make a few tweaks, tone down the Nazi propaganda, and then impose it on every high school student in California.
The inadequacy of this response is clear from the continuing opposition of Jewish-American groups, even on the curriculum’s fourth draft. One group called it “tantamount to putting an even larger target on the back of every Jewish student.”
And anti-Semitism is just one manifestation of what is so fundamentally wrong with this curriculum. Its undisguised purpose is to impose on students a particular worldview, rather than giving them the tools to construct one for themselves.
What I find particularly offensive is the notion that this curriculum is about “equity.” Since being elected, every attempt I’ve made to fight for true educational equity has been snuffed out by the dominant Special Interest at this Capitol, whose business model is to keep kids trapped in failing schools.
That’s why we rank 49 out of the 50 states in educating poor students, and it’s why we’re dead last in reopening our classrooms. This bill is a smokescreen for corrupt education policies that have produced the greatest inequity in the country.
But there’s a larger reason this curriculum has been able to gain traction. We’ve simply lost touch with the purpose of education. That purpose used to be preparing students for citizenship; civics wasn’t just an add-on to one subject but was a unifying thread across all subjects.
As that unifying thread has unraveled, CRT is filling the void as the anti-civics. A failure to teach students how to build their communities up has created an opening for those who would have them tear their communities down.
Today I call on our Legislature not only to reject this misguided curriculum, but to renew the true meaning of civic education – one based on a deep appreciation for American institutions and values – so that nothing like it ever rears its head again.
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