Educators pursuing a career as a middle or high school English teacher should be “trained in anti-racism,” according to a newly released set of teaching standards created by National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
The NCTE last revised its standards for educators preparing to teach English language arts (ELA) in grades 7 to 12 in 2012. The professional organization said that since then, literacy demands “have changed the landscape significantly” and that “the issues of justice, equity, and diversity” have become central for English teachers and learners.
The latest NCTE standards, released last week, replace the term “social justice” in the 2012 version with “anti-racist” and “anti-bias” based on “expert advice,” according to the council. It now recommends that prospective English teachers “apply and demonstrate knowledge of learners and learning to foster inclusive learning environments that support coherent, relevant, standards-aligned, differentiated, and antiracist/antibias instruction to engage grade 7–12 learners in ELA.”
“Bigotry, discrimination, oppression, divisiveness, and racism are part of the world in which future teachers of English are working,” NCTE President Alfredo Celedon Lujan said in a statement announcing the standards. “These new standards seek to support educators as they prepare to go into the classroom.”
When it comes to the definition of racism, the council defines racism in America as the “systematic mistreatment and disenfranchisement of people of color who currently and historically possess less power and privilege than white Americans.”
“Racism … and other forms of discrimination continue to be a part of American society, continuing to affect all students and their education,” the council declares, asking that teachers “explicitly push for anti-racism by participating in ongoing professional development for educators to succeed in countering racism and other forms of bigotry.”
Anti-racism is one of the concepts popularized by proponents of critical race theory (CRT), an outgrowth from Marxism that views society through the lens of a power struggle between white and non-white people, which proponents assign the labels of “oppressors” and “oppressed,” respectively. CRT advocates see deeply embedded racism in all aspects of American society and deem it to be the root cause of racial inequity, or different outcomes for different races.
Rather than teaching children tolerance, it requires discriminatory “antiracist” practices to solve the perceived inequity, according to CRT advocates. As explained in Ibram X. Kendi’s 2019 book “How to Be an Antiracist,” discrimination should be considered “anti-racist” so long it is “creating equity.”
“The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination,” wrote Kendi.
The NCET didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The council will be holding its annual convention next week, featuring guest speakers such as former first lady Michelle Obama and Nikole Hannah-Jones, the leading author of The New York Times’ controversial “1619 Project,” a collection of historically revisionist literature promoting the idea that the United States is an inherently racist nation founded to preserve slavery.