New York’s Cultural Revolutionary Education Reforms

August 6, 2019 Updated: August 6, 2019

Commentary

On July 31, the New York State Board of Regents initiated a cultural revolution. The politically progressive board—which supervises all public schools in the state—voted unanimously to declare war on the “complex system of biases and structural inequities … deeply rooted in our country’s history, culture, and institutions.”

They concluded from a swath of social science studies that traditional methods of education perpetuate a culture of racism and a system of inequity. The only solution, they believe, is to incorporate into education an emphasis on “sociopolitical consciousness” that will lead to “sociocultural responsiveness” in order to supplant the dominant framework.

Their strategy is to transform teachers and students into social justice activists by transforming schools into learning environments that “affirm cultural identities,” “elevate historically marginalized voices,” and “empower students as agents of social change.” They call this a “Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework.”

The 64-page description of the framework presents a properly educated student as one who is conscious or “woke” to his own and other’s “implicit biases” (the word “bias” appears 44 times), and is “empowered” (15 times) to “advocate” (16 times) for “social change” (12 times).

In other words, being educated means becoming a political activist just as much as becoming proficient in traditional subjects of learning. Parkland, Florida, gun-control activists such as David Hogg seem to be the new ideal student.

One might think the Board of Regents is simply more interested in producing a certain kind of activist than it is in producing an educated student. Interestingly enough, though, according to the framework, there’s no difference between the two.

All U.S. citizens should be aware of what is going on in New York. They should understand this new vision of education because it describes what the board considers an excellent human being, and that description reveals the way progressives hope to transform the entire American regime.

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education

The attempt to incorporate subversive political activism into an education system, and thereby change what it means to be a good citizen, is not new. The framework’s educational reforms bear an uncanny resemblance to those that Mao Zedong—founder of the Chinese Communist Party—advocated. Here are some examples sufficient to demonstrate this resemblance.

An educated student is one who is made conscious of systemic inequities:

“Our educational policy must enable everyone who receives an education to develop morally, intellectually and physically and become a worker with both socialist consciousness and culture.”—Mao Zedong

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework:

  • “Critical and continuous self-reflection is required to dismantle systems of biases and inequities rooted in our country’s history, culture, and institutions.”
  • “Employ a critical pedagogy that empowers students to see themselves as agents of social change and architects of their own destinies.”
  • “Employ a critical lens (racial, gender, sexual identity, linguistic, religious, ability, socioeconomic, or other salient cultural identities) when developing resources and intervention frameworks to de-center dominant ideologies and pedagogies that ignore or marginalize diverse students.”
  • “Students bring a critical lens to the world as they study historical and contemporary conditions of inequity and learn from historically marginalized voices. Students learn about power and privilege in the context of various communities and are empowered as agents of positive social change.”
  • “Continuously learn about implicit bias, with attention to identifying and addressing implicit bias in the school community.”

An educated student is able to engage in destructive-constructive self-criticism:

“There is no construction without destruction. Destruction means criticism and repudiation; it means revolution. It involves reasoning things out, which is construction. Put destruction first, and in the process you have construction.” —Mao Zedong

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework:

  • Students are admonished to “identify inequity and challenge it when you see it.”
  • And to “identify and address implicit bias in the school and community environment.”
  • Teachers are admonished to “strive to be culturally sustaining by centering the identities of all students in classroom instruction, encouraging cultural pluralism rather than asking students to minimize their identities in order to be successful.”
  • To “provide opportunities for students to critically examine topics of power and privilege.”
  • And to “continuously learn about implicit bias, with attention to identifying and challenging your own biases, and identifying and addressing implicit bias in the school community.”

An educated student is able to criticize and denounce reigning power structures:

“While [students’] main task is to study, they should in addition to their studies … criticize the bourgeoisie. The period of schooling should be shortened, education should be revolutionized, and the domination of our schools by bourgeois intellectuals should by no means be allowed to continue.”—Mao Zedong

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework:

  • Students are admonished to “identify, discuss and dismantle implicit bias in curriculum and assessment.”
  • To “challenge power and privilege where present, or absent, in the curriculum by locating other resources or requesting curriculum that is inclusive of multiple perspectives.”
  • To “identify gaps where the current curriculum does not address multiple perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds. Advocate for fair representation of these absent perspectives.”
  • And to “engage in difficult conversations, particularly those that challenge power and privilege in our society.”

Successful overthrow of the current system requires activism at every level of education:

“The proletarian revolution in education should be carried out by relying on the masses of the revolutionary students, teachers, and workers in the schools, by relying on the activists among them, namely those proletarian revolutionaries who are determined to carry the great proletarian cultural revolution through to the end.”—Mao Zedong

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework:

  • The Framework embraces a comprehensive initiative for all of society. It includes directives for each of the following categories: students, teachers, school leaders, district leaders, families and communities members, higher education and faculty administrators, and education department policymakers.
  • Teachers are admonished to “engage students in youth participatory action research that empowers youth to be agents of positive change in their community.”
  • District leaders are admonished to “work to improve the recruitment and retention of a diverse teacher workforce (i.e. teachers who identify as people of color, LGBTQIA+, differently-abled).”

No doubt the authors of this framework believe the current culture and general way of doing education are rampant with injustice. They are entitled to their opinions, but they are obligated to use persuasion—not propaganda—to convince the rest of society to accept these positions.

Diverting time and attention away from standard fields of study by foisting progressive political opinions on impressionable children doesn’t serve the welfare of students. Further, turning our youth into an American kind of Red Guard to transform society isn’t the way of a free people.

Clifford Humphrey is originally from Warm Springs, Georgia. Currently, he is a doctoral candidate in politics at Hillsdale College in Michigan. Follow him on Twitter @cphumphrey.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.