Op-EdAppeared in The Ohio Star on January 31, 2023By Gary James

Commentary: School Choice is the Best Way for Ohio’s Kids to Escape Critical Race Theory

Black History Month, which begins Wednesday, offers an opportunity to address a major threat to black economic advancement, racial harmony, and national prosperity: critical race theory.

CRT is a neo-Marxist doctrine that permeates many aspects of American education today. Recent hidden camera footage of Ohio educators demonstrates how intractable CRT really is. Proposed state school choice legislation will empower families to pull their children from these schools and choose alternatives that teach the real skills needed to succeed in today’s economy.

At its most basic level, CRT views almost everything in society as a zero-sum power struggle between the races. It is a post-modern worldview that eschews American values of reason, hard work, and meritocracy for power, grievance, and race obsession. One of its most infamous manifestations is the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which not only incorrectly claims the nation was founded on slavery but also that this legacy continues to corrupt the nation’s cherished institutions.

Like other irrational and divisive ideologies, CRT has no place in the classroom where it can pollute children’s minds and indoctrinate the next generation.

Social studies classes should of course teach about America’s racist past, including slavery and segregation. Yet CRT is very different. It attempts to associate these wrongs of several generations ago with seemingly all of today’s circumstances. CRT’s modus operandi is to pit the races against each other and debase people to nothing more than their skin color – the exact opposite of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream.

Through their elected state representatives, Ohio parents have attempted to pass legislation to ban CRT in classrooms. Yet Accuracy in Media’s recent hidden camera footage captures educators claiming they would ignore such a law if it took effect. This suggests that even a political CRT victory would be mostly symbolic.

“You can pass a bill that you can’t teach CRT in a classroom, but if you didn’t cover programming or you didn’t cover extracurricular activities or anything like that, that message might still get out,” explains Matthew L. Boaz, executive director of DEI at Upper Arlington Schools. “Oops,” he jested.

“There will be a way.” Hilary Staten, an administrative assistant for Groveport Madison Schools said educators will simply “trick” parents into continuing teaching CRT.

“Should I stay in my position if this [CRT Ban] goes through, heaven forbid, we would be covert in our language,” says David Traubert, Social Studies Curriculum Manager for Cincinnati.

Vivian Alvarez, Assistant Principal in Mason City says such a law could be ignored. “It’s a local decision so [Governor DeWine] can pass it just like anything else that he passes. But it’s up to the local government which is our governing board to decide.” Even with a local CRT ban, Alvarez argues, “We’ll call it something else. We’re still going to do the same work.”

These sentiments almost surely reflect the position of the state’s progressive education establishment. The biggest victims of ongoing CRT are the students themselves, who see their valuable education time cannibalized by this pseudo-history.

Only 38 percent of Ohio eighth grade students are proficient in math and reading, and far lower among black students. Our youth need these skills to survive and thrive in the modern economy. I can say firsthand that employers across the state are desperate for sensible young workers. We don’t need workers with college degrees — just basic communication and analytical skills.

What’s the solution? Robust school choice legislation that allows parents to pull their students from CRT cess-schools and place them in proper learning environments that teach real skills. Recently introduced state legislation called the Parent Educational Freedom Act would give all Ohio students $5,500 to $7,500 scholarships to opt out of failing public schools in favor of private schools. Parents who choose to home-school would get $2,000.

Armed with these funds, many working families could afford to send their kids to competitive private schools that succeed based on their education results, not because of a government-enforced monopoly. The legislation follows in the footsteps of Arizona and Iowa, which have recently adopted universal school choice.

Ohio legislators should quickly pass it to give Ohio families a lifeline to escape CRT. Doing so would mark a substantive Black History Month achievement.