CRT In Practice, the Parents’ Bill of Rights, and Social Media Literacy

John D. Sailer

Resolute is the Civics Alliance’s newsletter, informing you about the most urgent issues in civics education. Above all, Resolute will provide information about federal and state legislation that seeks to impose action civics, or to preserve traditional civics.

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Critical Race Theory, In Practice

The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) declined to act on the first complaint made under the new Critical Race Theory ban. It made this decision on procedural grounds. The challenge brought up several books on the civil rights movement, but these were assigned last year, before the law was enacted. The TDOE did not make any judgment on the merits of the books. 

Still, this first challenge brings up a broader question within the parents movement: How should the law be applied moving forward? While some rush to find books that ostensibly violate newly enacted law, others point out that specifically targeting books, rather than classroom teaching, risks creating a negative public image for the movement. 

Elsewhere, CRT’s presence is unquestionable. Recently, the superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) proudly admitted that Detroit schools are 'deeply using critical race theory'—saying the quiet part out loud. 

Plus, a noteworthy resource: The Anti-CRT Parent Guidebook

And in case you missed it: Bill Maher defends parents who object to Critical Race Theory

Parents’ Bill of Rights

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is lobbying for lawmakers to pass a Parents’ Bill of Rights. Schmitt argues:

Parents have every right to play a central role in their children’s education, are entitled to critical information about what is being taught, and must have the tools necessary to take action when they feel that the quality and content of how their children are being educated does not align with the values and expectations they expect and deserve.

Is It Time For Social Media Literacy?

In Florida, a bill requiring social media literacy lessons has advanced in the state legislature. The bill targets what most people acknowledge as a problem—namely, the widespread misuse of social media. Yet, bills like these are worth tracking, because the guise of “media literacy” often functions as a trojan horse, casting certain political views as prima facie wrong and biased. 

This is also worth watching because “media literacy” is frequently required in civics education bills. If the Florida law passes, it might give us an example of what media literacy looks like in practice. 

The Abiding Debate Over SEL

Parents have raised the alarm about the prevalence of social and emotional learning (SEL)—a ubiquitous term in education that isn’t always so well defined. Recently, education experts have weighed in on the topic, encouraging caution about the ubiquitous pedagogical concept. 

At Education Week, Frederick Hess makes the measured case that SEL has gone too far:

I get the promise of SEL. Especially after 20 years of frustration with the more dehumanizing aspects of accountability-driven reform, the Common Core State Standards, and test-based teacher evaluation, it’s good that we’re actively focused on the fact that students are children with social and emotional needs. But, in schooling, we have a long tradition of overcorrecting first one way and then the other.

At the New York Post, Betsy McCaughey calls on parents to reject SEL altogether: “Parents need to take control. It’s not an easy fight against the combined forces of educational profiteers and left-wing activists. But the stakes are too high to accept defeat.”

Civics Alliance State Affiliates

The Civics Alliance would like to build up a network of state affiliates—groups dedicated to removing action civics in their state, whom we would list on our forthcoming website. If you would like to form such an organization, or suggest an existing organization, please get in touch with David Randall ([email protected]).

Continuing Priorities: Federal Legislation

At the federal level, the Civics Secures Democracy Act threatens to impose action civics nationwide.

The Civics Bill Tracker

Civics Alliance members may now use the Civics Bill Tracker to track all proposed federal and state legislation related to civics.

Public Action

We encourage Civics Alliance members to inform the public and policymakers about the stakes and consequences of action civics bills.

John Sailer is a Research Associate at the National Association of Scholars and serves as Keeping the Republic Project Lead.

Image: Tracy Le Blanc, Public Domain

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