February 28, 2024
Training K-12 Students To “Resist Systems of Oppression”

Training K-12 Students To “Resist Systems of Oppression”

Montgomery County Public Schools in suburban Washington, D.C. has charged a team with drafting a K‑12 curricular overhaul that “strengthens students’ sense of racial, ethnic, and tribal identities, helps students understand and resist systems of oppression, and empowers students to see themselves as change agents,” as noted by National Journal columnist Josh Kraushaar on Twitter,

Commentator Damon Linker responds:

“I’ll speak up: I wouldn’t want my kids’ sense of racial, tribal, or ethnic identity to be strengthened. I don’t want them to be trained to “resist” anything in particular. And most of all I don’t want them turned into “change agents,” which is corporatized activist‐​speak.”

I’d add, speaking for myself, that while families of varying political colorations might all agree that there are “systems of oppression” existing in the world, we are likely to disagree strongly on which systems those are and where their definitional boundaries might be. For example, it’s routine for one or another consultant in the world of “anti‐​racist” training to label capitalism as a system of oppression, while others, like me, consider capitalism a system of liberation and compulsory state socialism a system of oppression. Whose view is going to prevail? Likewise, there are innumerable disagreements on what do and do not constitute instances of sexism, ableism, imperialism, ageism, racism, and colonialism. When views diverge, whose will prevail? And even if agreement were reached on identifying some societal evil as such, who decides whether the appropriate response is to “resist” it in some visible and performative way, or alternatively to set a better example by one’s personal conduct, use one’s powers of persuasion and exhortation, or withdraw from contact with and participation in the evil? Each approach has had philosophically serious advocates.

Some might even deem it an emergent system of oppression to employ the machinery of compulsory public education to remove children forcibly to a classroom where they will be indoctrinated into ideologies that may vilify or demonize beliefs held by members of their families, or even demonize those family members themselves, in a process to which members of their families would never willingly have subjected them.

A longstanding theme of Cato’s work on school choice is that public schooling, often seen as bridging and ameliorating cultural and social divisions, in fact tends to worsen them by forcing families into combat.

when these questions are decided through a political system, such as elected school boards, parents with differing views must struggle against each other to have the school reflect their views. Inevitably, some parents will lose that struggle. To add insult to injury, all citizens are forced to pay for the government‐​run schools through their taxes, even when those schools are antagonistic toward their most deeply held values.

And just so here. (cross‐​posted and expanded from Free State Notes).

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