DEALING WITH CRT IN YOUR SCHOOL
The topic of Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a polarizing issue in communities nationwide. If you’re concerned about this ideology coming to your child’s school or think it cannot happen in your district, the sad truth is that CRT has most likely already infiltrated your student’s education.
NFA recently learned from parents about a particular area school district dealing with CRT and questionable curriculum. Like most northland schools, it was thought that CRT is just an issue that happens elsewhere in more liberal urban or suburban districts. Surely CRT cannot be in our small conservative rural communities? Guess again.
The case at hand was prompted by an attentive parent whose child brought home the Wisconsin 2021-2022 Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) Consent Form, an opt-out form for health and sex-ed curriculum. The consent form allows students to participate in federal surveys and for that information to anonymously be shared with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Furthermore, the school would be using the 3R’s Curriculum (Rights, Respect and Responsibility). The consent form reads:
“Your child will explore their own growth and development, their goals for the future, and their goals for close and productive relationships with others. This program has been evaluated nationally and has shown very positive results for young people. The program promotes progress in school and avoidance of behaviors that may hinder your child’s most successful growth and achievement. The 3R’s curriculum is a sex education curriculum that fully meets the National Sexuality Education Standards and seeks to address healthy behaviors. Rights, Respect, Responsibility reflects the tenants of social learning theory, research into effective sexuality education programs while respecting young people’s right to the information they need to protect their health and make responsible decisions. The curriculum focuses on pregnancy prevention, STD education and prevention, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, gender, abuse, healthy relationships, communication, community service, financial literacy and education, and life decision-making skills.”
On the surface, the 3R’s program makes a strong sell to parents. After all, who doesn’t support good “life decision-making skills?”
The 3R’s curriculum is readily available online with a simple internet search.
Who is behind this curriculum?
The Authors and Reviewers tab at http://3rs.org/3rs-curriculum/ are a mix of intersectional professionals touting their academic credentials. Author Cindy Lee Alves, M.ED is heralded as “an award-winning sexologist with over a decade of experience in facilitating challenging conversations with young people. Centering folx of color across intersecting system-impacted identities, they have educated people in the area of sex education and wellness with interests in pleasure, media, justice, and liberation.”
Author Maureen Kelly, MATD holds another title as Manager of Affiliate Training and Learning Design with Planned Parenthood. According to her credentials “Maureen designs curriculum, lessons plans, and training modules about sex and health with a focus on LGBTQ people and communities.” Parents might want to ask themselves if they are comfortable with the nation’s largest abortion-service provider creating their child’s sex-ed curriculum.
A deep-dive into the hundreds of pages of 3R curriculum teaching guides, PowerPoints, downloads and links gives a better understanding of the ‘life decision-making skills” noted in the simple parental opt-out form. Grade school level lessons consist of standard cartoon pics of naked boys and girls and points out various parts of their anatomy. Introductory lessons are sure to evoke a blush and giggle from a child. The very basic function of sex and how reproduction occurs is introduced.
The most dramatic turn in traditional norms occurs in the middle-school plans. In addition to more detailed focus of puberty, hormones and increased sexual awareness, gender identity and gender roles (or lack thereof) are a dominant theme. “Love” and the idea of lasting relationships are mentioned, but clearly missing is an emphasis on marriage. For instance, students are prompted to explore and discuss the proper time to become sexually active. In a nutshell, the go-to answer is “when the couple is emotionally ready for sex” versus when they are married. From the hundreds of pages read, the concept of pre-marital sex or marriage was not mentioned.
Also, the parental opt-out form mentions 3R usefulness in teaching financial literacy but little to none could be found in the curriculum. Perhaps the authors could cite well-documented facts by credibly organizations such as the Brookings Institute “All else equal, children raised in stable families are healthier, better educated, and more likely to avoid poverty than those who experience transitions in family structure” and “Two-thirds of cohabitating parents split up before their child reaches age 12, compared with one quarter of married parents.” One wonders if 3R selectively chooses sources to fit a prescribed narrative and purposely avoids facts that contradict their worldview.
As noted, the new definition of gender emerges in middle school 3R teachings. Grade 7 lessons include “I am who I am” and “Blue is for Boys, Pink is for Girls…Or Are They?” Intersectional language begins to surface. Pronouns “her” or “him” are removed from vocabulary. For scenarios or role-playing, teachers are instructed to replace “girl or woman” with “someone with a vulva” which leads to even more confusion among middle-schoolers.
High-school curriculum covers a variety of heavy topics including consent, various options for contraceptives, coping with STDs and unwanted pregnancy, sexting and social media risks. Intersectional language is front-and-center. Non-binary, LGTBQ and other orientation issues vastly outweigh more traditional viewpoints. Students are instructed to “look for bias” and that “faith-based organizations may have biases based on their own beliefs and teachings that may limit sexuality-related information.”
What 3R refers to as biases might be considered by others as “morals”. For example, while abstinence is mentioned it is overshadowed by instructions on use and availability of contraceptives. A lesson plan “Communicating about a Sensitive Topic” equates sexual abstinence to abstaining from eating sugar for a period of time. Not quite apples to apples as sex can have serious long term emotional consequences. The lesson reminds teachers to avoid shaming those who do have sex, particular if prompted by students who choose abstinence over sex “because it’s wrong” or “because it’s a sin.” To repeat, role playing interactions that lead to sex are encouraged, but students stating sex is wrong or a sin is discouraged.
The undertow of 3R is that nonconformity is celebrated and traditional boundaries are minimized. Parents, communities and local Boards of Education should reflect on whether this mindset is merely acceptance of a changing society or is this agenda being actively promoted?
To be clear, there is no place in our education system, workplace or the world for hateful actions or speech towards others regardless of their race, gender, religion or orientation. School can be a difficult place for children and can be downright brutal for LGTBQ persons. Confusion about gender and sexual identity leads to increased cases of depression, absenteeism and tragically, higher rates of suicide. This is a real issue that schools and society need to properly address. But are this curriculum and other efforts balancing the needs of LGTBQ students with traditional students or is the over-emphasis on intersectionalism creating an equal and opposite reaction? For many, it seems that anyone who questions sensationalized non-traditional behaviors must be censored, minimalized, labeled as bigoted and subsequently face severe societal and economic consequences.
So where does CRT fit into the equation? Several fifty minute high-school 3R assignments deal exclusively with Critical Race Theory. Lesson plans include:
Reproductive Justice – Past, Present, Future
The Impact of Racism and Inequality on Sexual Health
Sexual Agency: Represent!
Lesson objectives include:
“Examine at least two examples where one’s sexual agency is impacted by oppression with a focus on intersectionality”
“Generate at least one action people can take to support system-impacted communities in and outside school”
The lesson goes on to define Systematic Oppression as “Intentionally disadvantaging of groups of people based on their identity while advantaging members of the dominant group (race, gender, sexual orientation, size, ability, etc”
“Oppressed” is further defined as “Black, brown, people of color, trans, non-binary, queer, disabled, lower SES, fat, over 65, non-Abrahamic religions/spiritualties, English language learners, undocumented, feminine, no higher education, dark-skinned, kinky hair”
Students are instructed to display pre-selected newspaper articles with the word “intersectionality” and explore its definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary “Intersectionality is the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.”
So how did schools get to this point?
Schools are required to instruct on certain lessons and those curriculum packages can be complicated and costly. Curriculum can also be inherently political or used to drive agendas.
Federalization of funding and top-down mandates have turned schools into one-size-fits-all education factories. Powerful interests such as the American Federation of Teachers push for less parental control while driving their agenda. The national AFT union advocates for pointed political issues. AFT campaigns for politicians and in return the politicians use taxpayer dollars to reward the unions. In this case, unions work hand-in-hand with leftist groups to create, fund and implement curriculum to fit their political agenda. As a result, we get Planned Parenthood creating and implementing the lessons for our children. To minimize costs to the school districts, unions and activist group rely on a combination of tax dollars and wealthy donors to push the agendas into classrooms.
This unholy alliance is on display in the deep-dive of the 3R curriculum and their lessons “Advocating for Change at School.” Geared specifically toward students, 3R instructs students to be lobbyists for their agenda and aggressively push leftist ideologies on school principals and administration. 3R arms students with responses to reasonable questions they may face such as program costs. The 3R program circumvents this cost issue for schools by conveniently providing the curriculum for “free”. First, leftists write the curriculum, then peer review the curriculum, then use a combination of tax dollars and mega-donors to fund the curriculum and finally laws are passed to require the curriculum. This is done for one reason; on account of the fact that students are a major future voting bloc. The 3R program goes as far as equipping students with lobbying talking points in case the Principal encounters concerns and negative reactions from parents. The authors and supporters of 3R know their curriculum will not sit well with some parents and so it appears the curriculum intentionally works to remove transparency and parental oversight.
Are schools to blame? Perhaps ‘yes’ if they are part of this overall agenda. But more than likely school boards are merely trying to operate under the rules and mandates tied to their funding. Many administrators and school boards are not in tune with the bitter political climate outside the classroom and are naive to tactics used by well-funding activists.
What to do.
First and foremost, become engaged in your school and your child’s education. Ask questions politely and respectfully and be willing to offer solutions. If you feel inclined, offer to sit on a committee or run for your school board and lead.
Parents have a right to review their child’s curriculum and should have a voice in choosing lessons that reflect their values. The best way to get information is to politely ask. If you feel the need to have documentation of conversations, make the request in writing.
Freedom of Information (FOI) or ‘Open Records’ requests may get you the information you desire, but realize that these requests more often create barriers in communications. Public entities are required by law to provide facts and data requested via FOI, but public officials are not required to give opinions. Repeated FOI requests and hard questioning or demands will most certainly lead to a litigious feeling relationship in which you get the bare minimum support as legally required. At all costs, try to ensure open and trusted lines of communication.
Second, push for transparency. Urge decision-makers to openly disclose lesson plans, especially if they know the subject matter might be controversial. Do not assume that when you enroll your student in a school or program that you consent to everything. Opt-out forms should require non-biased details of the lesson so parents can make informed decisions. At minimum, opt-out forms should include a way for parents to acknowledge they understand lessons and programs.
Follow up. Make reasonable requests or suggestions and gauge the response of the decision- maker. Is the issue at hand something they can even control, or are they subject to rules and conditions that are out of their control? Are they implementing some of your suggestions or ignoring your reasonable requests? Are they deadlocked based on their own ideologies? If they are able to make change but unwilling based on their differing viewpoint, perhaps the last resort is to look for another person to serve in that role.
Lastly, push for local control of your school including cutting the money and control cords of federal education. Encourage your Boards of Education and legislators to advocate for increased local control and flexibility in curriculum that can be tailored for the needs of the community.
As taxpayers we pay for our public school system. It is our obligation to ensure we get the best value and return for our community. We are the best advocates for our schools and our children.