Partisan politics has no place in public school curriculums.
Adding No Place For Hate (NPFH), a cousin of Critical Race Theory, to Coronado’s curriculum, is inserting partisan politics into our schools.
The best way to demonstrate that bad things occur when schools are polluted by politics is to review the details surrounding the June 19 “Tortillagate”:
Tortillas were thrown after the CIF championship game – that Coronado’s basketball team won.
Immediately following, a letter was sent out to the community on behalf of the School Board and Superintendent describing the students’ behavior as “reprehensible..demeaning..disrespectful..reflecting racism, colorism and classism.” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez directed Coronado’s parents to “teach your children not to be racist.” Senator Ben Hueso described this as “an intentional act designed to be racist.” BLM activists showed up in Coronado a couple of times and they crudely called out Coronado moms and basketball team members as being racist – forgetting, I guess, that some of Coronado’s players are, in fact, young black men.
But then we heard “the rest of the story” - that went like this:
Luke Serna, a 40-year-old Latino, democrat, activist, union member and UCSB alum brought the tortillas and told the kids to throw them if they won—as this was the traditional way UCSB celebrated victories.
Luke Serna, a 40-year-old Latino, democrat, activist, union member and UCSB alum knew that acceptance of the NPFH curriculum was being hotly debated by the Coronado School Board (the next Board meeting is Thursday, Aug. 19 at 4 p.m. at the District Office), and the NPFH curriculum needed a final push in order to be passed. If Coronado kids were publicly demonstrated to be racist, then this program would be determined by the school board to be necessary, and the curriculum would be adopted.
Adults were to blame for this fiasco. An adult brought the tortillas – and instructed children to throw them – in the way victories have been traditionally celebrated at UCSB. Adults on both side of the gym, including some parents and coaches, demonstrated poor sportsmanship. Bad language and racial slurs were uttered – by the adults. The responsibility for this event did not rest with students.
Yet it is the kids who were and are still being punished.
This is a glaring and timely example of what happens when schools are politicized. The politicization of our school communities along with pressure from social activists resulted in an unfortunate rush to judgment by the superintendent and some board members and the issuance of the letter I referenced earlier.
Schools that implement the NPFH program must cede significant power over its day-to-day operations to an outside national activist group called the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Schools are expected to notify the ADL when any incident of bias, bullying, discrimination or harassment occurs and work with ADL to address them as we “move toward universal consciousness.” Schools are encouraged to use ADL supplied curriculum in which K-2 students learn about the “Cycle of Inequality” and that racism means “the disrespect, harm and mistreatment of people of color” based upon white people thinking they’re better. The NPFD program brings social activism into the classroom and as we saw last year, encourages schools to sponsor political marches during school time. NPFD includes controversial, political terms like BLM, equity (not to be confused with equality), social justice, diversity and inclusion, group identity and culturally responsive teaching. NPFH and CRT programs make everything about race, as was so tragically demonstrated by the tortilla incident at the basketball game, when the board and superintendent and political big-wigs immediately inserted a racial narrative where none existed. And kids were blamed and punished for the actions of others, in this case the adults.
I think we all agree that schools should be no place for hate. Everyone wants kindness to be practiced. We should foster bravery and respect and reject bullying and racism in our schools. Cultivating such a school climate helps teach children to reach their full potential, a goal we all recognize has life-long benefits.
Using the CRT or NPFH Programs is not the way to strive for harmony and respect on our school campuses. Rather than encouraging kids to hyper- focus on their racial differences and economic disparities, teachers should focus on instilling confidence and competence in their students.
Perhaps the school district needs to reinstate posting and discussing in homerooms a different universal value every month. Many years ago, Coronado Middle School (CMS) principal Nancy Girvin brought such a program to CMS from Emerald Junior High in El Cajon. Selected values were identified such as Justice, Honesty, Freedom, Respect, Responsibility, Gratitude and Kindness, and students and teachers talked about these and sought out opportunities to practice them.
It is the responsibility of schools and teachers to teach their students how to think, not what to think.
The best thing teachers can do for students is to provide them with a rigorous and appropriate learning content, without the distractions of NPFH and CRT social propaganda.
Arming our students academically and cultivating a unified and respectful classroom environment helps children to reach their full potential, a goal we all recognize has life-long benefits, and should be the focus and purpose of publicly financed education.