Critical race theory has infiltrated Christian private schools and parents aren’t speaking up because they’re afraid, said one education activist.
Elana Yaron Fishbein started an organization called “No Left Turn in Education” to help parents take the lead in the education of their children and to show people who oppose critical race theory that they have allies. Among its slogans is “education, not indoctrination.” In only a few months since its beginning in August 2020, her Facebook group grew dramatically. Today, her group has chapters in 18 states.
“Many parents say ‘how can you be against it (CRT)?’ until you open it and see what’s in it. It’s the exact opposite [of what it says,]” said Fishbein to The Christian Post.
Fishbein’s own courage in fighting critical race theory comes from her Jewish faith background, she said.
Originally from Israel, she noted, “It’s Jews, more than any other group in the history of the world, who have suffered from racism and the consequences of racism. Am I going to sit down and watch what they’re doing, turning this country into a racist country? Blaming all the whites for being racist and privileged? As an Israeli, I know if I don’t stand up and fight, we’ll be gone.”
She sounded the alarm that both public and private schools have begun teaching CRT as well as comprehensive sexual education, which instead of encouraging abstinence, focuses on normalizing sex outside of marriage and encourages confused kids to question whether they are male or female.
Critical race theory has varied definitions. Oxford Reference notes: “CRT regards the privileged position occupied by mostly White, middle-class academics as a major obstacle to a comprehensive exposure of the racism that is seen to permeate the law, its rules, concepts, and institutions.”
Conservative website Pulpit & Pen argues that CRT is dangerous in that it is “fundamentally opposed to the American Civil Rights Movement,” as it does not advocate for treating people equally but rather that “the law may actually need to [be] biased in favor of minority identity groups” to redistribute power. Race is the defining feature of human identity, Pulpit & Pen states, and every person is part of either an oppressor race that holds power, or an oppressed race that oppressors abuse.
Fishbein argued, “They attach to critical race theory a lot of beautiful names, but they mean the opposite. Of course, we are ‘anti-racist.’ Of course, we are ‘for diversity.’ But they mean the opposite.”
Churches and Christian schools are teaching children how to classify each other by race and see color instead of character, she said. It’s not only being taught in public schools but “it’s very, very pervasive in Catholic schools, Episcopalian schools, charter schools, we’re getting a lot of references from most private schools,” she maintained.
In Missouri, a student filed a lawsuit alleging that her Catholic school tried to force her to lie that she was racist. A Nevada charter school forced students to identify themselves as members of a race. A public school in California told children to rank themselves by “privilege” in the classroom. Some of the elements that defined privilege was whether someone was white and a Christian.
These incidents aren’t isolated. According to The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy Director Lindsey Burke, many of America’s 14,000 public school boards are embracing CRT. One key driver of this educational change is The New York Times’s 1619 Project, which promotes the ideology.
Burke and her colleagues specifically asked school board members and families across the country about the 1619 Project and 50% of all parents and 70% of school board members said that they do not want schools to use the instructional materials rooted in the idea that slavery is the center of the national narrative. Likewise, 70% of parents and 74% of school board members believe that slavery is a tragedy that harmed the nation but freedom and prosperity represent who Americans are.
Their data showed that only 25% of parents and 17% of school board members believe that students should be taught that the founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written and that U.S. history must thus be reframed.
Fishbein believes that critical race theory often goes unopposed because its opponents feel too afraid to fight it. She often meets people who don’t tell even their close friends that they oppose the ideology.
One woman she met had a close friend who would host sleepovers with her children. For years, she felt too afraid to say she opposed CRT developments at the school their children attended. When she finally spoke up to her friend, her friend agreed with her and said that she also had felt too afraid to share her real beliefs.
When Fishbein first objected to CRT at her own school, parents weren’t willing to stand with her. Several people loudly condemned her, she said.
“The lynching was public, but the support was private,” she said. “I was really concerned about the people being afraid to talk. People say they are 100% with me and they agree, but they’re afraid to talk. It blew my mind. How in this country with First Amendment rights people are afraid to talk?”
Fishbein encouraged parents to run for school boards, form networks, and use resources on No Left Turn in Education’s website to fight back against the teaching of CRT.