A Black curriculum designed to help students think critically about social hierarchies is being stifled by right-wing politics because it challenges the myths that have shaped the history of the United States and systems that perpetuate capitalism, racism, and sexism.
Right-wing politics attempt to stifle Black curriculum because it diverges from the dominant narrative of American exceptionalism. This narrative is one that upholds the traditional values of white supremacy and ignores the systemic racism, sexism, and oppression of people of color throughout history. In addition, right-wing politicians may fear that introducing such a curriculum would cause students to question their authority and authority figures in general.
In order to address this issue, it is important to challenge the status quo and emphasize the importance of a balanced, diverse education. We must actively advocate for Black curriculum to be taught in all schools, and ensure that its content is accurately represented and respected. Additionally, we must challenge the right-wing narrative and create a space for open dialogue and critical thinking in order to promote understanding and foster meaningful conversations about social justice. By doing this, we can help students gain an understanding of their place in society and the power of their voices.
The “Chronicle of Higher Education” reported that since December 2022, state lawmakers in 13 states have introduced at least 21 bills that aim to restrict colleges’ efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.
It was also reported that two right-wing propaganda outlets, the Goldwater Institute and Manhattan Institute, targeted three areas in model state legislation proposed this year, arguing that efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion stifle intellectual diversity and are often discriminatory. Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and one of the authors of model state legislation, said he was struck—and heartened—by how quickly state lawmakers have moved to rein in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in colleges.
In January 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis announced his proposed legislation to reform higher education in Florida. He declared that his administration is going to “eliminate all DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and CRT (critical race theory) programs in the state of Florida.”
He falsely claimed that DEI projects were too expensive and wasteful, although a Chronicle analysis found that such projects make up one percent or less of the state university budgets. He signed into law a bill called the Stop Woke Act that limited how schools can teach about race. State educators had to remove books from their bookshelves to comply with his administration’s policy on issues of race.
The College Board’s Advanced Placement program is an extensive course of study that offers high school students the chance to participate in college-level classes, that broaden students’ intellectual horizons and prepare them for college coursework. On the second night of Black History Month, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the first ever Advanced Placement (AP) course in African American studies was unveiled.
But compared with the original plans for the high school AP course, it lacked topics that people at the gathering thought were essential to the discipline—like Black Lives Matter and reparations. They wondered if the reason was pressure from DeSantis of Florida, a likely Republican presidential candidate who has railed against what he calls “woke indoctrination.”
David Coleman, the chief executive of the College Board, addressed the doubters and unconvincedly suggested that conservative politics did not influence the weakening of the Black studies course. However, Florida state officials released a chronology of its communications with the College Board that seemed to indicate that the AP course had been diluted.
Schools, colleges, and universities are major social institutions that prepare students for different social locations—occupations—in the social hierarchy. They are also primary sites of ideological conflict over the gap between their egalitarian and meritocratic mission and their unfair and unequal system.
A curriculum should open students to new information and ways of thinking. A critical thinking-based curriculum challenges the status quo, which perpetuates unjust social and economic inequalities. A critical-thinking curriculum aims to empower students by providing conceptual tools, learning skills, and insights that can challenge injustice and change institutions.
Dr. Luke Tripp is a professor at St. Cloud State University.
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