By Jack Gournell
A group of Black conservatives has penned an open letter to the nation’s school boards urging them to teach a curriculum that rejects the principles of critical race theory, instead focusing on “individual responsibility and strength in the face of adversity.”
The 1776 Unites curricula are part of the Woodson Center, a Black conservative group founded by Robert L. Woodson, who signed the letter along with about 20 other Black intellectuals, including Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page and Carol Swain, a retired Vanderbilt University professor and frequent talk show guest.
“The prevailing narrative of racial grievance has been corrupting the instruction of American history and the humanities for many decades, but has accelerated dangerously over the past year,” the letter says. “The most damaging effects of such instruction fall on lower income minority children, who are implicitly told that they are helpless victims with no power or agency to shape their own futures.”
Critics of critical race theory argue that it paints America as irredeemably racist from its founding and thus divides people along racial lines rather than seeking to bring people together or lifting minorities up.
“We ask that your schools instead adopt curricula that, rather than completely reject our founding values, instead embrace the ideas of family, faith, and entrepreneurship that have enabled all Americans – including black Americans – throughout history to move from persecution to prosperity, and will continue to do so for generations to come,” the letter says.”
The letter points to results from the National Center of Education Statistics’ 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress that showed only 24% of eighth-graders performed at or above NAEP Proficient standards for the civics assessment and only 15% did so for the history assessment.
“These dismal achievements in gaining an understanding of democratic citizenship, government, historical facts and perspectives across time are low across all student backgrounds and virtually unchanged from the benchmarks established two decades ago.”
According to the group, the 1776 Unites curricula conform to social studies, English and social/emotional learning standards and offer ”authentic, motivating stories from American history that show what is best in our national character and what our freedom makes possible even in the most difficult circumstances.”
The lessons focus on stories that “celebrate black excellence, reject victimhood culture, and showcase the millions of African Americans who have prospered by embracing their country’s founding ideals,” the letter says.
According to the Woodson Center, the lessons have been downloaded more than 17,000 times across all 50 states.