Are Fayette schools next cultural battleground for our children’s minds?

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We just witnessed a federal election that promoted the status quo, a state election that kept woke leftist ideology outside our gates, and local races bidding to maintain our community’s stability.

Those races cover us for the just a few years, so what does the future hold? Can Fayette County remain a reliably confident community, a place of integrity and strong reputation? It really depends on you.

Other metro Atlanta counties are falling apart at the seams with rising crime, lamentable public schools, blight, and especially poor governance.

Can Fayette County’s families remain immune to the negative cultural impacts into the foreseeable future? Abraham Lincoln was well aware of how nations and civilizations can change rapidly. He said, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.” Pay attention to Honest Abe.

Starting with a trigger warning

The content of this column dealing with education may contain microaggressions and challenging topics that could be emotionally upsetting or offensive to anyone buying into critical hip-hop pedagogy, popular education, theatre of the oppressed, youth participatory action research, and leftist political narratives. Reader discretion is advised. If you become triggered, you can troll in an anonymous comment below.

Shifting social traditions and values

Fayette County has already experienced some of its first few elected officials and candidates who embrace the woke system of oppression found in Critical Race Theory (CRT), anti-racist, queer, and leftist political narratives known as “intersectionality.” Expect this to continue with organizations like the local We Push Progress (https://www.wepushprogress.com/mission) devoted to pushing that agenda by overturning local governments in our area while hoping no one is paying attention.

Western culture has shifted from Judeo-Christian to enlightened freethinker to the divisive neo-Marxist/postmodernist that has infiltrated most of our public institutions.

Schools are a key influencer of culture, and it’s hard to overstate the importance of education in the life of a community, nation, and civilization. Force-feeding political philosophy used to be the domain of the universities. Now, it’s in K-12.

Locally, many of our teachers  are retiring who have been steadfast promoters of building our students’ intellect and desire for learning. These are professionals who truly care about your students and have no interest in making them into political pawns. Show them appreciation while you can and encourage the younger members of the faulty to resist.

The new breed of educator

Unfortunately, many colleges of education are inculcating our new generations of teachers on a divisive ideology that affects young students mentally, emotionally, academically, spiritually, culturally, and morally.

Gone are the days of focusing on the statistically measurable achievement levels of “No Child Left Behind” in reading, science, mathematics, graduation rates, etc.

Many of the new educators are being introduced to “queering” English, censoring scientific debate, and declaring mathematics a racist construct. Generating division within the student population based on race and gender, creating a victim and oppressor mentality, is stressed.

To be fair, some universities refuse to participate. John Ellison, Dean of Students at the University of Chicago, which sparked a national discussion about intellectual safe spaces, asserts, “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual safe spaces where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

What are the consequences witnessed from this new generation of woke educators? In some school districts across the nation, the data show virtually no students capable of meeting the minimum requirement in reading or mathematics.

However, they do have thorough knowledge of “global citizenship,” gender ideology, and the supposed dangers of the alleged man-made warming of the climate. Additionally, they learn to choose their pronouns and that they may have been born in the wrong body which should be “cured” through irreversible surgeries and arresting hormone treatments (with or without parental knowledge).

Who is backing our nation’s demise?

The most powerful philanthropic organizations in the world are involved and, consequently, there is almost nothing you can do about it because they are private and there are no laws to change or politicians to recall. The Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation are all funding these far-left ideological initiatives in public and private schools.

These foundations have large sums of money, can move very quickly, operating under the radar, and have no oversight or accountability.

The Biden administration is 100% publicly in favor of forcing the ideology into every public school system.

The rebellion has begun

Perhaps the only benefit of the tyrannical Covid lockdowns and school closings might be that parents across the country actually got a glimpse of what was being taught in their children’s schools.

Don’t think for a moment that Fayette County is immune from this ideological pandemic infecting students’ minds. The response of our local officials must be organized and intentional to avoid calamity.

The failure of majority black urban school districts under the totalitarian leadership of far-left politicians and abusive teachers’ unions has been public knowledge for decades. However, the illusion of wealthy school systems providing a top-quality student-focused learning environment was shattered during the pandemic in some top private prep schools and public school systems like Fairfax County, VA and San Francisco.

Even the wealthy school systems have been coopted and repurposed to lower standards, political indoctrination, sexualizing content, and weaponizing future generations.

Critical pedagogy, intersectionality, patriarchy, white supremacy, open Marxism, demonizing America, disavowing personal liberty, and transgenderism crept in while parents were not paying attention. (Suggested reading: “Race to the Bottom” by Luke Rosiak.)

As parents began publicly declaring their disapproval and recalling their school board members, the Biden administration’s Department of Justice declared them “domestic terrorists” for exposing the destructive forces at work.

Devil came down to Georgia

Georgia became one of the first states to ban CRT in K-12 education. The ban is not through the legislature, but via the state Board of Education.

How is such a ban in K-12 enforced? What are the parameters? Is a mere resolution from the state Board of Education enough to survive a legal challenge?

President Biden’s Department of Education has signaled its intent to impose the most radical forms of Critical Race Theory on America’s schools, very much including the 1619 Project and the so-called anti-racism philosophy of Ibram X. Kendi, by tying federal funds to compliance. Venture to see how much federal funding Fayette County receives through the state.

There is no such mandate in either direction for colleges or universities in Georgia and many in the state have fully embraced CRT, anti-racism, and the like. If you want to see what our future teachers trained in education programs in Georgia’s universities are being taught, look at the scholarly works of the faculty.

At our flagship institution, the University of Georgia, the Just Education Policy at UGA’s College of Education is a program “to inspire and engage the next generation of racial justice-focused policy scholars.”

Likewise, the UGA Staff Council’s Dismantling Systematic Racism Ad Hoc Committee offered a presentation by Terry College of Business’s Dr. Dawn Bennett-Alexander, titled, “Using Anti-Racism to Dismantle White Supremacy.”

The University of Georgia’s Planning Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence established a “five-year roadmap to advance diversity and inclusion at UGA” consisting of 11 university-level strategic diversity initiatives on a CRT platform (see: https://criticalrace.org/states/georgia/#college).

Many universities across the state have leaned into a CRT social justice movement that promotes an anti-western narrative. The organizers’ goal is sliding their damaging belief system not only into our communities, but also in our living rooms via our children.

What is the solution?

As we witnessed with the Common Core conversion, once the major private foundations, political donors, and influential politicians surface with transformative schemes, it’s incredibly difficult to stop the momentum.

A good first step would be for the Georgia Legislature to follow Florida’s lead on passing laws specifically to address CRT and other counter-culture initiatives in our K-12 systems.

Second, citizens need to contact members of the state’s Board of Regents and stress that the board enact standards like the stance the University of Chicago has taken. No more censoring opposing views on campus and punishing faculty members and students who contest such divisive ideology.

Third, the State Board of Education needs to create useful metrics to aid local school boards in hiring teachers from various college of education programs to help determine which programs are most likely to hire activist faculty members and use a curriculum that defies the current state ban.

All of that will only get you so far.

Practical alternatives to public schools if necessary

There are a number of private schools in and around Fayette County. Additionally, there are now some impressive turn-key home school curriculums available.

It would be wonderful if the state legislature would pass legislation designed to have state education funds follow a student in the form of a voucher that could be used in the public school of choice in their county, a private school, or for home schooling. I am not holding my breath on this one.

A significant number of Fayette County K-12 students are already enrolled in private schools and home school programs. Data nationally demonstrate that home-educated children are out-performing their government-educated peers on academics, socialization, and other measures.

Being proactive (asap)

It’s past time to wake up and get involved. Here are some positive steps.

• Don’t wait for an OMG moment at your student’s school to get involved.

• Volunteer at your child’s or grandchild’s school whenever possible.

• Share any of your concerns directly with the teachers.

• Carefully review the syllabi of your students’ classes and do not be afraid to ask questions.

• Do an internet search of the textbooks, supplemental books, and the authors used for the classes. Ask to see the list of books and digital teaching material added to the school’s library in the past couple of years.

• Expect transparency and accountability from your child’s school faculty and staff.

• If you find problems that cannot be resolved at the school level, contact your Board of Education members. Do not settle for an insufficient response.

• Offer praise to the teachers who are exceeding expectations (we have a lot of them).

[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Board of Commissioners.]

15 COMMENTS

  1. The consensus of commenters’ opinions to Mr. Browns’ essay and Mr. Bernard’s reply seems to be bi-modal. Less conservative commenters (like me) see the concerns about Fayette County teachers promulgating nefarious subject matter as a non-issue. More conservative commenters agree that no teaching is awry currently, but they worry about progressive influences eventually seeping into our county’s schools. The examples cited to perpetrate the fear seem rather extreme to me, but they appear to be accepted as almost inevitable by the fearful.

    Isn’t it time that all of us question ourselves when we infer motives and expected behaviors of our political opposites? Most conservatives do not condone killing police officers at the U.S. Capitol any more than most progressives approve of rioting and defunding the police. Rep. Greene from Rome, GA is no more representative of most conservatives than is Rep. Ocasio-Cortez of New York of most progressives. When either side invokes the other team’s extremists as their standard barriers, we lose all perspective and can easily adopt a cataclysmic fear of the other.

    This holds in relation to our county educational system. We should continue to hire good and competent teachers and allow them to do their jobs. Banning books or subjects is an overreach and does not befit our American ideals. Likewise banning speakers by progressive groups is just as dangerous.

    For example, I firmly believe that right wing media in general, and Fox News in particular, have poisoned the political landscape and spread fear to otherwise reasonable people. I have seen it first hand in my family. However, I would NEVER suggest that Fox News be banned or shut down. A country that limits speech by government dictate is already on the slippery slope to authoritarianism. Likewise, legislatures banning books and subject matter taught in schools is a far too slippery slope, and school boards trying to garner votes instead of broadening students’ minds is just as perilous.

    We must continue to hire exceptional teachers who educate our students broadly, and the truth will win out. The truth has the advantage of being consistent and rational. Let’s give our students some credit!

  2. Mr Steve, thank you to be our voice, I couldn’t express it so well like you, I don’t understand why so many negative comments, but I know exactly what you are trying to do, open people eyes, as a father of teenagers I can tell you it is so difficult to work with it, especially when the school system is against of us. Thank you again

  3. I’ve found it interesting that there seems to be a lot of new “first-time” commenters on Steve’s columns……interesting…….makes me suspect that one person is behind several of these “new” commenters.

    Steve……although my political views align with yours, you do always seem to be stirring the pot and looking for trouble. I think you do have a point to be made here – which is to be vigilant and to not let ourselves be lulled to sleep, lest we end up like Loudon County VA who’s gone full-scale crazy, or like the Randolph-Union school in Vermont who’s allowing a boy to play on the girls volleyball team and is now punishing girl teammates who have reported being uncomfortable when they’re forced to change in the same locker room as the biological boy. Are we at risk of either of these happening here? Currently no – but as our conservative county fades to a lighter shade of red with all the TV / Movie folks moving in, we certainly need to be vigilant and proactive to protect our traditional values that have given us the award-winning schools we have.

    And to those of you saying CRT isn’t being taught in schools……..I think you’d be surprised at the instances where it is creeping in across the country……the promoters of CRT are doing their best to encourage it and to stealthily include it into curriculum.

    Speaking of crazy things being taught in schools….is there any truth to the rumors about “furries” being tolerated in McIntosh and Booth?

  4. This column is just another illustration of the way you foster conflict and fear in attempt to elevate yourself. The most glaring example is your intentional, or simply naïve, use of the concept of intersectionality.

    Intersectionality is not a radical ideology, it is the recognition that social statuses related to inequality are overlapping. While there is not agreement on the causes of economic inequality, there are clear patterns of inequality related to sex, race, disabilities and other social statuses that are undeniable. Men tend to earn more than women. Whites tend to have higher incomes than Blacks or Hispanics. Those who are disabled tend to earn less than those who are not.

    Now, we can bring in the concept of intersectionality. Black women tend to have lower incomes than Black men, White men, or White women because of the combination of race and sex. Those who are disabled are more likely to have lower incomes if they are also Black or female. Again, there are different theories as to why some groups are more likely than others to have lower incomes, but the existence of these disparities is irrefutable.

    Rather than trying to rabble rouse, why not devote your attention on ways to foster economic well being for everyone?

  5. The fearmongering Mr. Brown wastes many words warning us about another nonexistent problem. Last week it was nonexistent voter fraud; this week it is nonexistent mind poisoning by the excellent teachers in our county.

    What will it be next week? Interstellar aliens taking control of our minds? The sun exploding in 2023? Steve will be sure to keep you scared, because that’s all he sells.

  6. Georgia became one of the first states to ban CRT in K-12 education. The ban is not through the legislature, but via the state Board of Education.
    Oh please why ban something that isn’t being taught in the first place. CRT is only taught in law school and last time I looked Fayette County didn’t have one, so stop with the scare tactics.

  7. Yo. Apparently, I’m a free-thinking leftist cloaked in the socialist pedagogy that all people should be treated as individuals and should be judged for their individual actions. Lest you think I’m just a stone-thrower on this one, I spent several years on a school board and in classrooms.

    I love that your hot take on the best way to have “free thought” in our schools is to ban things that you find challenging and to accelerate the erosion of our excellent quality of education by sending public funding to private institutions. And the Supreme Court, even in this most recent term, said that any voucher program must be applied with equal protection for any viewpoint. Does that mean more money to Woodward Academy? Sure. Catholic school? Yes. The Satanic Temple? Absolutely. It’s a baby-and-bathwater situation.

    Let’s go talk to Jonathan Patterson and have him point to a classroom that teaches CRT. You hold this up as the canary in the coal mine, but that bird is still singing and CRT *isn’t* in our schools. Why? Not because of some legislative edict but because CRT is a political science topic. (Sure, let’s discuss how different laws and traditions impact people differently, and issues like partition sales in the post-Civil War south forcibly evicted a poorly-educated populace from property that was inherited across generations. We wouldn’t want *more* education to combat ignorance.) Since you hold yourself out as a conservative firebrand, let’s go all in on our traditional principles and pass MORE laws. Oh, wait… Isn’t it these horrible leftists who are supposed to legislate away our freedoms?

    Should we start banning books in our schools? That’s one you left off the list, but we can thank the all powerful Flying Spaghetti Monster, who in his divine wisdom, acted through our state legislature and gave us the ability to demand each principal make sure our kids are free from challenging thought and complex emotions on difficult topics in the classroom. His Divine Pasta-ness provided for us all in Senate Bill 226.

    You talk about “intersectionality,” which is again a topic that we can ask Dr. Peterson about. I’d expect that one, too, is not in our Fayette County classrooms. But, fine, let’s take that one on: we should judge folks individually, and not because they belong to a group, like the Boomers. How? On the day we recognize there are over 8 billion people on the planet, more than at any other time, we also see Steve’s latest view on why Living With People Who Are Different is incompatible with the American Way.

    One topic upon which we can agree is that we have some excellent teachers and administrators in Fayette County. So let’s support them by staying out of their classrooms and out of their way. And, in this season of thanks and joy, let’s send them a gift card because they stock their classrooms from their own pockets to ensure the quality and excellence of the education they provide. Teachers are professionals. Let’s treat them that way.

    • Teachers are professionals with points of view that increasingly they feel free to pass along to their students without concern for the wishes of their parents. Where is the respect in that?

      Parents, not teachers and certainly not bureaucrats, are charged with the care and instruction and molding of their children. Parents have a right to know and oversee the instruction of their children. Increasingly we see school boards and even states Institute guidelines, rules and even laws that reduce or eliminate those rights. I will not stand for that. I respect the opinions of teachers but I will decide the the path my child walks not them!

      School choice is not only just it is a necessity in this country where we see such diverging.

      And to correct your promotion of a bold face lie – school choice does not diminish government education! Every program instituted across the nation sends less $$$ with a student than the government bureaucracy currently spends on that student. SO, if you can do the math, they have more funds to spend on each student that remains. And the bonus is that parents and students uniformly are more satisfied and while not universally, the vast majority of students are doing better. So, if you support student achievement more than teacher unions and social programming you should support parents and students through choice.

      Don’t be closed minded. Monopolies don’t work. Personal freedom, choice and competition do work.

      • I found an interesting statement above, “Parents have a right to know and oversee the instruction of their children.” I agree, but maybe only for the time being. I think if parents cannot get their individual acts collectively together, parents will loose some of that right in a public education scenario. Maybe some feel they have already lost it and engage home and parochial schooling. From what I’ve seen of school administrators knee-jerking their faculties and staff over parental concerns in Fayette County, I think parental oversight in public schools is probably safe for awhile.

      • I love that certain people in this country are all of the sudden scared to death about public education pushing “leftist ideologies” to their children. These are the very same people who had no problems receiving vaccines their entire lives or with the longstanding rules requiring vaccination in schools until two or three years ago. As if somehow in the span of of a year our public education had been entirely infiltrated by white middle class communists and a demonic Bill Gates bought out the vaccine industry in a sinister campaign to destroy free will. Get a grip people.