THURSDAY, JULY 8, 2021
The end of what once passed for journalism: Is it even possible? Is it possible that bad teaching is occurring somewhere as individual teachers, schools and school systems engage in increased "antiracism?"
Is it possible that some bad teaching is going on? Stating what is blindingly obvious, Yes, of course it is!
Bad teaching is easy to perform. Because this is a very large country, we can be fairly sure that it's happening all the time!
That's what's happening in the real world. That's not what happens in Dreamland.
In Dreamland, it's possible that bad teaching is occurring until Our Town's thought leaders check in. At that point, we tend to focus very strongly on the foolishness of The Others, and we tend to leave things right there.
For starters, Republican pols make easy targets. There's a lot of bad faith, and some world-class dumbness, to be found over there.
That said, we also tend to roll our eyes at the hysterical, very dumb parents. We tend to reject the possibility that these Others could ever have anything resembling a reasonable or valid concern.
Instead, we go straight to their alleged "moral panic." So it went when CNN's Erin Burnett joined hands with the remarkably unskilled Elspeth Reeve to announce the end of American journalism this past Tuesday night.
Good God, this segment was awful! Concerning those stupid hapless parents, Reeve started up like this:
REEVE (7/6/21): This is a school board meeting in a suburb of Philadelphia, where a small group are speaking out against critical race theory, or CRT.
In the wake of protests of the murder of George Floyd, Republican politicians have been hyping critical race theory as a threat to the impressionable minds of America's children.
"Hyping?" That's a notably loaded term with which to start a news report. Within moments, Reeve had moved along to such presentations as these:
REEVE: Critical race theory is an academic framework that says racial inequality is perpetuated by racism embedded in American laws, not by individual bigotry. But relentless propaganda from some conservatives has created a panic that white people, and especially white children, are under attack.
REEVE: Anti-CRT propaganda is drawing crowds. More than 100 people showed up at this diner near Baltimore where local Republican groups held a panel on school COVID shutdowns and CRT.
It has to be "propaganda;" there can be no valid concerns. Later, as Reeve wrapped things up, she schooled Burnett as shown:
BURNETT: So, Elle, I know you spoke to parents and activists in Philadelphia for your story, but you've done so much reporting on this. How widespread is it?
REEVE: Yeah, we are seeing conflicts over CRT pop up across the country. For example, our crew just dropped by one meeting to see if someone might show up and talk about it, and two people did.
While this conflict and panic is based on misinformation, the fear these people feel is real. We saw a woman cry real tears at the thought that her child was being taught to be ashamed for being white.
BURNETT: Wow. It's incredible. Reports like yours make a difference. And, Elle, thank you so much.
In Reeve's wholly fair-minded assessment, the concern is really a panic. The panic is based on misinformation, but also on propaganda.
On the brighter side, the tears of these Others are real. "Wow. It's incredible," the hapless Burnett exclaimed.
Reeve never showed the slightest sign of imagining the possibility that somewhere, someone might be overdoing the antiracism in some way or other. She never showed the slightest sign of imagining that some parent or parents might have something resembling a reasonable point of concern.
That doesn't mean that she didn't work hard to be completely sure! Pathetically, she interviewed one (1) high school teacher, Philadelphia's Keziah Ridgeway, to make sure that things were A-OK in the nation's several classrooms.
Nonsense like this ensued:
REEVE: Are you teaching white kids to hate themselves for being white?
REEVE: Are you teaching black kids that there is nothing they can do to improve their situation?
RIDGEWAY: Absolutely not.
That was quite a grilling! For ourselves, we felt much better once those key points had been settled. There are no problems anywhere in this best of all possible revolutions, as Ridgeway's responses made clear!
There are various issues to straighten out in the current non-discussion discussion about CRT and the schools.
As a general matter, thought leaders in Our Town tend to ridicule GOP pols for the gong-shows they've been staging concerning the term "critical race theory." After that, we come close to matching them dumbness for dumbness as we proceed on from there.
Based on her writings and her upbeat point of view, Keziah Ridgeway seems like a very energetic, very good person to us. Reportedly, she isn't teaching white kids to hate themselves, and she isn't teaching black kids that there's nothing they can do.
(Earlier, she also answered no to this question: "Are you teaching children to hate America?" Ridgeway said no to that too!)
On the other hand, teaching values, and teaching our nation's history, is a much more challenging task than teaching reading or math. Here's part of an interview with Ridgeway concerning the Brown decision:
RIDGEWAY (9/23/20): If you want to truly revolutionize education, it has to start at the beginning with destroying white supremacy, which has always been a part of the framework of the United States.
Even Brown v. Board of Education, a seemingly big win for abolishing school segregation, didn’t fix the entire problem because a lot of Black teachers lost their jobs since they were not wanted to teach white kids. Then on the flip side, you had Black and Brown kids being taught by white teachers who, by design of the slave trade, were never supposed to be granted education in the first place.
Without this history, which is more nuanced than the surface level lessons students get about MLK, students are not able to make the connection between the events that happened in the past and what's occurring in the world today. We need to put things in proper context.
By design of the slave trade, those black and brown kids were never supposed to be granted education in the first place. Plus, those black and brown kids were now being taught by white teachers! Without putting things in this proper, heavily nuanced context, our country will never be able to revolutionize education, as Ridgeway wants to do.
(Also, don't get Ridgeway started on the things Mr. Lincoln once said.)
Keziah Ridgeway seems to us like a very good, very decent person. We admire people who pour themselves into their classroom work, as she plainly does.
That said, you're really taking a roll of the dice when you let the nation's ten million teachers start expounding their own private views about such complex matters. It's always important to remember one point:
Those kids in those classrooms aren't theirs.
At one time, there was a Standard Americana which tended to prevail in the classroom and in public school history books. This produced homogenized teaching which was dull and often inaccurate, but at least it was standardized. At least on the surface, there was a widely-held agreement on the general Storyline.
That was then, and this is very much now. When we let every teacher start expounding his or her own specialized views, we're heading down a difficult, complex path.
In the meantime, are you sure that no parent or parents out there has a reasonable concern or complaint? Putting it a different way, are we able to respect no one but ourselves?
In our view, CNN's viewers have a complaint as the sort of thing we saw Tuesday night seizes control of the channel's gong-shows, which were never real strong to begin with. That report was perfect dumbness—dumbness all the way down. On a fairly regular basis (though not always), it's even worse with Tucker on Fox.
As CNN helped show Tuesday night, Our Town is coming come closer and closer to matching The Others for dumbness. Disconsolate experts glumly say there's no clear way out of this mess.