Silence from the education “professionals” speaks volumes

One of my favorite writers, Laurie Higgins, heads up the Division of School Advocacy at the Illinois Family Institute. Some of her best writing isn’t even for publication – but is contained in letters and emails to those who work to undermine traditional values and imagine that left-wing inspired political utopia is possible. Laurie is hard-hitting and to the point.

When I recently had the opportunity to read a letter she sent to the principals of Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools, the Director of Diversity (Andrea Johnson), and the members of the school board, I asked if she would allow us to publish it after she received responses.

Unfortunately, it appears Laurie rarely gets responses to the letters she sends to those so-called “educators.” This doesn’t mean she’s not the topic of emails sent back and forth between school board members, school administrators, and school teachers. She posted some excerpts that were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request here.

For all of you who want to believe the taxpayer- funded schools are run by saints and angels walking among us, I’d encourage you to read “Scandalous Intolerance in District 113.” The content won’t come as a surprise to any supporters of school reform. Nor will it come as a surprise to any clear-thinking adult that has had a run-in with their child’s school. Nor any normal adults who remember the odd breed of teachers and administrators that populated the schools while they were students (though it’s a safe bet that the old days weren’t as bad as what we’re seeing today).

Laurie is allowing me to post this letter because, as she explained, she wants “taxpayers to be alert to the language of critical pedagogy and ‘teaching for social justice,’ and watch for it to rear its ugly head in their districts.”

She recommends this article, as well, from the Washington Times by Sol Stern:

Pedagogy of the oppressor

Here is the text of her letter:

Sun, 13 Dec 2009

From: Laurie Higgins

To: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Subject: New job title for Andrea Johnson

It’s an interesting intellectual exercise to imagine what our new director of diversity would do if she were prohibited from having anything to do with either “critical pedagogy” or “critical race theory.” If she couldn’t base any professional development opportunities on, or send out any emails or attend any workshops on, or apply for any grants pertaining to, or promote in any way either “critical race theory” or “critical pedagogy,” what precisely would our director of diversity have to do?

This exercise may help reveal the absence of diversity in and importance of her job.

It’s quite obvious that in public education, the term “diversity” has nothing to do with intellectual diversity. “Diversity” is a parochial euphemism for several highly politicized theories, from the “teaching for social justice” movement to “critical pedagogy” to “critical race theory.” This is the same body of thinking promoted by the likes of Bill Ayers, Peggy McIntosh (S.E.E.D.), Glenn Singleton, Paulo Freire, and Lee Mun Wah (Stir Fry Seminars), James Banks, Peter McLaren, and Lisa Delpit.

So, in the service of transparency and intellectual integrity, I am suggesting that Andrea Johnson’s job title be changed to “Advocate of Critical Pedagogy,” and that the district add to the district’s website a detailed job description as well as a list of resources and scholars who shape the ideology of Andrea Johnson. All deceptive euphemisms like “equity and excellence” or “courageous conversations” should be banned from this job description.

Alternatively, she could use her position to rigorously enforce actual intellectual diversity–the single most important form of diversity in academia–by requiring that all teachers who present resources that address controversial topics be required to spend equal time on and present equivalent resources from opposing views. In addition, she could send out all-district emails that announce area speakers or television programming, or that share essays which both affirm and criticize “critical pedagogy.”

Finally, she could use her position as director of diversity to ensure that professional development opportunities for staff and faculty are equally balanced between studying the work of “critical pedagogy” and studying the work of those who refute “critical pedagogy.” Of course, to achieve balance, District 113 will have to spend the next decade offering only professional development opportunities that study the work of critics of “critical pedagogy” because under the control of first Dan Cohen, and thenChristine Saxman, Andrea Johnson, and George Fornero, District 113 has studied only “critical pedagogy” or “critical race theory” for the last ten years.

Neither Andrea Johnson nor any other employee of a public school has the right to use public funds to advance one set of theoretical beliefs–particularly controversial ones–over another.

Laurie Higgins