A fifth-grade social-studies teacher in Philadelphia recently forced stu­dents to cel­e­brate Black History Month by hon­oring “black com­munism” and Angela Davis, a com­munist activist and former Black Panther. The news created a stir on social media but should come as no sur­prise to those who have fol­lowed the radical agenda infecting every level of America’s public edu­cation system. Cit­izens must resist this toxic trend by com­bating it in their school boards, state leg­is­la­tures, and children’s classrooms. 

Stu­dents at William D. Kelley School were required to par­tic­ipate in a mock Black Power rally to “free” Davis, who was briefly jailed in the 1970s on charges of con­spiracy, murder, and kid­napping, according to a report by Chris Rufo of City Journal. Pic­tures pro­vided by a whistle­blower show ele­mentary stu­dents holding signs bearing slogans like “#Black­Pow­er­Matters” and “Jail Trump, Free Angela.” In the school audi­torium, children chanted about ancestral power and shouted from the stage, “Free Angela!” 

Philadelphia public schools have pushed a radical agenda in other ways, too. Earlier this month, a Philadelphia teachers orga­ni­zation pro­duced a video explaining the need for “antiracism” training for edu­cators. The video states that “racism is steeped into the foun­dation of our country” and that the United States is “a settler colony built on white supremacy and cap­i­talism.” The solution, according to the group’s website, is to “uproot white supremacy and plant the seeds for lib­er­ation and empow­erment.” Sim­i­larly, a teacher at Philadelphia’s Science Lead­ership Academy tweeted last summer about his anxiety that teachers couldn’t effec­tively accom­plish their “equality/inclusion work” over Zoom classes because they didn’t know who might overhear them. “If we are engaged in the messy work of desta­bi­lizing a kids [sic] racism or homo­phobia or trans­phobia — how much do we want their class­mates’ parents piling on?” he wrote.

This race-cen­tered approach to edu­cation stretches beyond Philadelphia. Efforts like the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which dates America’s founding to the arrival of the first slave ship in Vir­ginia, have spread this ide­ology nationwide. The project seeks to “reframe” American history through the lens of slavery, teaching readers to reject our founding and prin­ciples as racist and fraud­ulent. The Pulitzer Center has con­verted the material into a K‑12 history cur­riculum, which has been adopted by more than 4,500 teachers across the country, according to its annual report. 

Such views of American history are based on Critical Race Theory, which uses Marxist tech­niques to divide Amer­icans and pit them against one another, framing some as oppressors and others as oppressed. It judges people not by their indi­vidual abil­ities, talents, and accom­plish­ments but by physical char­ac­ter­istics. It breeds discord among Amer­icans by stoking resent­ments among the groups, making them ripe for manip­u­lation. For far too long, we have let our public schools instill this worldview into the next gen­er­ation. Black stu­dents are told they are oppressed; white stu­dents are told they are inher­ently racist and must “do the work” of antiracism, and yet we are con­fused why so many America’s youth suffer from mental health issues. Our schools teach stu­dents to embrace com­munism, reject cap­i­talism, and hate America, and then we wonder why young people put matches to American flags and chant “burn it down” in the streets of Wash­ington, D.C. — some­thing that actually hap­pened earlier this month, according to jour­nalist Andy Ngo. 

Teaching the full story of American history — the glo­rious and the shameful — is noble. High­lighting the struggles and accom­plish­ments of black Amer­icans is a worthy goal. Letting stu­dents wrestle with the ugly episodes in our history and trusting them to come to thoughtful con­clu­sions is important. This is not what is accom­plished through lesson plans that rewrite reality, strip history of its com­plexity, and advance an agenda instead of the truth. Con­cerned cit­izens must push back. 

With many public schools con­tinuing to hold classes vir­tually, parents have an unprece­dented oppor­tunity to observe what their children are being taught and, if they object, take advantage of school choice. State leg­is­la­tures and school boards must reject efforts to adopt critical race theory cur­ricula in their school dis­tricts — law­makers in five states have already intro­duced bills to defund schools that teach the 1619 Project. Likewise scholars, regardless of race or political affil­i­ation, must refute, debunk, and offer an alter­native to the New York Times’ screed. To this end, the 1620 Project of the National Asso­ci­ation of Scholars, 1776 Unites, and the 1776 Com­mission (to which several Hillsdale College faculty con­tributed) have made a good start. 

Abraham Lincoln noted, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Those who love this nation must expose identity pol­itics as the poison it is and teach young people the truth of America’s founding. A grass­roots movement got us to this point and it will take a grass­roots movement to get us out. 


Madeline Peltzer is a senior studying pol­itics. She is the News Editor of the Collegian.