The Struggle of Critical Racial Theory in the Suburbs


A Virginia county is zeroed in on vigilance, complete with lies, blacklists, and creeping authoritarianism.

King Street in downtown Leesburg, Loudoun County. (Photo by Douglas Graham / Congressional Quarterly / Getty Images)

Loudoun County in Northern Virginia, about an hour northwest of Washington, DC, is known for being the richest place in America, but there’s more to it than that. Cities like Sterling and Ashburn carry all the traits of suburbs in transition, while townhouses with cookie cutters emerge in sprawling malls. A quarter of the county’s population are immigrants as the tide from the distant city and nearby Dulles Airport raise all boats. The place can feel like an experiment in how far federal power can sneak … to the Beltway … to the suburbs … beyond?

However you choose to characterize it, Loudoun has come to be known for something else lately: the newest battlefield in the battle of toxic critical racial theory. CRT is the fashionable politics of academic discipline and identity that states that America is plagued by systemic racism, it affects almost everything and everyone must fight back. Now it’s trickling into schools in the DC suburbs, much to the chagrin of parents who want their children to get a decent education.

The first thing the good people at Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) would like to know is that they don’t teach critical racial theory. Of course, their coworkers could speak in the gibberish of critical racial theory – by publishing a “comprehensive justice plan” that adopts Ibram Kendi’s Manichean dichotomy of “racism” versus “anti-racism” and gossips about “white privilege”. You could invest millions of dollars in equity training and spark consulting firms. You may have distributed a graphic listing “perfectionism” and “individualism” as symptoms of “white supremacy culture”.

But none of this is a critical theory of race. Why? Because they don’t call it critical racial theory. “LCPS has not adopted Critical Race Theory as a framework for staff compliance,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Scott Ziegler in a statement. So case closed then. (Christopher Hitchens used to say that if you could just call yourself a Reverend, you could get away with the most extraordinary nonsense in America. Change “Reverend” to “Doctor” and I think he’s about right.)

Indeed, not only are the Loudoun schools promoting critical racial theory, their attempt to do so is increasingly looking like indoctrination. Among the incidents that parents and teachers have complained about: school officials who repeatedly insist that systemic racism exists and staff must work to reduce it; Members of the school board who oppose the “over-representation” of Asian-American students in magnet programs; A teacher who condemns a student for describing two women in a photo without mentioning the color of their skin. Of course, earlier this year school officials rushed to get away from Dr. To distance Seuss. A teacher accusesKill a mockingbird of racism and “white savior”. Meanwhile, high school freshmen were assigned raunchy, even sexually violent, books.

This kind of thing happens in schools across the country, but it is Loudoun that best exemplifies the madness of CRT. All the necessary elements are in place, starting with the enormous wealth of the county. The median household income in Loudoun is $ 142,000 and nearly two-thirds of the population have a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is important because, at its core, wakefulness is a fundamentalist religion for wealthy whites who have both time and an acute sense of status to alleviate it. If you are guilty of real racism over a story – Loudoun County resisted desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s – you have an ideal breeding ground for CRT.

Another element of vigilance is trust in the arcane jargon the Loudoun schools have to a T. CRT proponent who rarely expresses his full intentions directly, but shields himself in simple bumper sticker sentiments – “Fighting racism.” ! ” – while he hides the devil the indecipherable details. For this purpose, check whether you can find this passage from the LCPS’s “Equity Impact Statement”:

Loudoun County Public Schools not only provide a racially aware, identity-affirming, and culturally engaging learning space for every student and employee, but are also committed to reducing disparities, increasing opportunities and participation outcomes for rigorous learning, breaking down barriers, and status To interrupt quo for the development of stronger fair practices.

Neither of me have any idea what it all means, and I can’t see myself protesting against it – although it’s a blueprint for really radical ideas about race and merit. Or take this statement from Dr. Ziegler that you read to during a public comment session:

The Equity Collaborative recommended that employees pursue professional development in the area of ​​recognizing the social and cultural differences in our diverse student body. Professional development was carried out with both nationally recognized consultants and LCPS-trained staff to facilitate this work. The aim of this work was to strengthen the racial awareness and the justice competence of the LCPS employees.

My brain froze several times as I transcribed this. Remember, this is not a footnote in an esoteric academic textbook. It was spoken by an actual person during a meeting that was intended to clarify the situation for the parents. Read it carefully enough, however, and the boldness will seep through. Ziegler says he wants to improve the “justice competence of LCPS employees”. Justice is a fundamental buzzword in critical racial theory that means essentially equal outcomes, not equal opportunities. This is a staggering change for schools that are supposed to encourage excellence, which naturally implies a certain level of U.Nsame results. And how can you increase the “literacy” of justice if you don’t teach it and keep it, exactly what Ziegler says LCPS doesn’t?

Such a bureaucracy hides and enables a third element of vigilance: its authoritarianism. Loudoun County’s schools weren’t just driving the CRT. They tried to silence anyone who protested. As Rod Dreher noted last year, the LCPS released a draft new policy that would have made “any comments or actions inconsistent with the school department’s commitment to action-oriented justice practices punishable.” The newspaper sighed that the school staff had a “first adaptation right to protected language”. It was made clear, however, that this protection may, among other things, be “offset by the school department’s interest in promoting the internal LCPS and the harmony and peace of the external community”.

Fortunately, the policy has been revised, but the fact that someone actually wanted to censor dissenters shows how authoritarian the CRT mindset is. And we haven’t even reached out to the most troubled person in the entire Loudoun school board: Beth Barts. Barts, who is somehow a school board member and also very knowledgeable, wrote to a Facebook group earlier this year called “Loudoun County’s Anti-Racist Parents,” warning that parents who spoke out against CRT would gain traction. She then helped blacklist Loudoun CRT opponents with their names, places of work, spouse information, and even personal addresses.

You won’t be surprised to learn that this suburb of Mao Tse-tung, to borrow Kingsley Amis’ sentence, is also a vehement opponent of school reopening. And when the word of Bart’s creepy despotism leaked, it was something of a final straw. At a public comment session in March, dozens of parents gathered to tear the bark off the school board. One woman said Barts’ Facebook group posted three pictures of her and encouraged a mob to show up at her home using megaphones. One father said he was blacklisted simply for suggesting a “middle ground” in the justice debate. One mother summed up the mood like this: “Get them together! I’m sick of the embarrassing reason the LCPS is in the media! ” (I’m sorry people.)

The school board reprimanded Barts – her second such reprimand, of course – and her blacklisted efforts are being investigated by law enforcement. Even so, she is still a seated member. The LCPS has shown no indication that it is withdrawing from its propaganda push. Parents are forced to spend time not fighting against a school system for which they are paying taxpayers’ money through the nose. A school board once known for excellent education acts like a revolutionary committee with clowns.

Fortunately there is hope. Earlier this year, voters in the Dallas suburb of Southlake overwhelmingly defeated a list of candidates for school boards and councilors who wanted to force all students and teachers into “cultural awareness training.” The fight against CRT is increasingly being carried out locally, and Loudoun’s parents are next. You have launched a campaign to call back six school board members, including Barts. To do this, they must submit signatures that are at least 10 percent of those who voted in the last school council elections. If they are successful, a test will take place.

All the luck in the world for her. If we are ever to stop the caustic vigilance we must create strong democratic disincentives for elected officials who are considering taking them over. CRT supporters could have the chic lexicon and degrees, elite institutions, and the perches of power. But it is their opponents who are on the side of reason.

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