BY: AMY HAYWOOD | OCTOBER 24, 2022
The Pentagon’s investigation into the U.S. military in 2021 found about 100 individuals engaged in extremist activities out of a force of 2 million. It appears investigators were looking in the wrong place. The search for extremists might have yielded better results had they examined the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), the government agency that administers K-12 education to the children of military personnel.
The Claremont Institute’s recently released report “Grooming Future Revolutionaries” describes shocking indoctrination taking place at overseas schools. It is a must-read, especially for military parents of the nearly 70,000 children in these schools.
I am a military spouse and the mother of a former DODEA student. The particular teacher training that was the focus of Claremont’s report is the reason, in part, why I lost all trust in the system.
In May 2021, I saw that DODEA would be holding an “Equity and Access Summit” for teachers and administrators. Knowing that “equity” means different things to different people, I wanted to get a sense of what it meant at DODEA. When I managed to gain access to the recordings, I was absolutely floored by what I saw and heard.
As the Claremont report shows, the summit featured hours of teacher training steeped in critical race and gender identity theories.
Claremont released a video of summit clips in which a principal talks about a student who felt like he’d done something wrong because he’s a “young, white male.” The teacher said she didn’t know what to tell him — but she seemed pleased with the breakthrough. Perhaps she was just following the lead of DODEA’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) chief Kelisa Wing, who is currently under investigation by DOD for a history of disparaging comments toward white people.
Video Evidence of Teachers Pushing CRT
The report also highlights literature teacher Gregory DeJardin’s presentation called “Combating 1- Sided Narratives (Decolonize the Curriculum).” DeJardin insists teachers become social activists and interviewed several students in his class at Vicenza High School in Italy about their difficulties with “majority culture.” It was painfully apparent in their answers that they were parroting his dogma, as one student said: “[School] is getting better about being more diverse and not taking a very normative perspective but there are definitely issues and I feel like it is still incredibly skewed to the white, male, heterosexual and Protestant gaze.”
Betty Roberts, an educator at Robinson Barracks Elementary School in Germany, talked about critical literacy. She wants her students to look deeply into textbook versions of events to find hidden biases. She asks her students questions like: “Is the American Revolution still being fought today?” She presses further and asks if the American Revolution was just a “transition from one group of rich white men to another group of rich white men.” Roberts goes on to express her gratefulness to the teachers’ union for its training on white fragility because she recognized her need for cultural humility.
Aside from the relentless instruction on anti-racism and white privilege, a clear effort was underway to normalize transgender identities and the notion of a gender spectrum. Genevieve Chavez and Lindsey Bagnaschi, presenters of “Ally 101 — Creating an Inclusive Classroom for LGBTQ+ Students,” talked about gender transitions they have facilitated for students at their schools in Spain and Germany, respectively — sometimes without parental knowledge or consent.
And many LGBT educators apparently belong to a system-wide resource-sharing group on Schoology curated by a DODEA educator. Chavez recommends resources from the group such as “Teaching with Mx. T” and “Teaching Outside the Binary.” But there is another similar group that’s passcode protected — and it’s for students. Teachers can add students to their own LGBT chat rooms in Schoology, and parents are not invited.
If teachers run out of content from people like “Mx. T,” they can use Discovery Education, which many recommended during the summit. One of the programs is “Speak Truth to Power.” This program offers lesson plans that are “flexible, standards-aligned digital resources, designed to educate, engage and inspire the next generation of human rights defenders.” Sounds good, doesn’t it — until you see that transgender activist Jazz Jennings is one of those human rights defenders. But Discovery Education is password-protected, with one portal for students and another for teachers, so we really have no idea what’s being promoted to our children via third-party content creators who can update information in real-time.
Congress Needs to Do More
Our children deserve to learn in an environment free from divisive ideologies, and thankfully, DODEA’s activism has not gone unnoticed by Congress. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., wrote a letter to DOD asking why teachers are being trained to secretly “transition” children at overseas schools. After a year, she still had not received an answer. She also introduced H.R. 4764, the No CRT for our Military Kids Act.
In the Senate, Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2023 to prevent DODEA schools from hiding important medical information from parents — but it was voted down.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., introduced a Servicemember Parents Bill of Rights amendment to the NDAA to provide for more transparency and accountability in DODEA schools. It was adopted in committee with bipartisan support by a vote of 39-19 and is in the House-passed NDAA.
But Congress needs to do much more to ensure the safety of our military children and also that of any DODEA educator who is being intimidated into conformity. It will likely take years to sort out the mess at DODEA, so in the meantime, Congress could consider extending the military’s Non-DOD Schools Program to all students instead of only to those who are not in close proximity to a DODEA school.