If you asked past generations of Americans about the purpose of an education, the answer would likely be fairly predictable.
A quality education, you’d be told, is all about imparting basic skills and experiences that will enable the next generation to not only have a chance at attending college and getting a good job, but acquiring the ability to think critically about themselves, their communities and the world. These foundations are not only critical for effective citizenship but living a fulfilled and flourishing life.
But times — and objectives — have changed for public education in California and Los Angeles, and so have the priorities of overt ideologues and faux educators like United Teachers of Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz.
For Myart-Cruz, the acquisition of basic skills like reading, writing, and math and cooperative experiences one only acquires through interactions with fellow classmates are less important than turning children into foot soldiers and tools for leftist social protest.
When asked about the potential learning losses incurred by students because of her decision to keep schools shuttered, Myart-Cruz responded in a recent interview for Los Angeles Magazine that: “It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival … They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”
Never mind that public schools aren’t supposed to function as indoctrination camps or that Myart-Cruz is herself responsible for the extended and unjustified school closures that necessitated students learning those “survival” skills.
Not from any inflated dangers of COVID-19 to kids, but because of the closures themselves, which caused untold damages to thousands of LAUSD students.
This includes skyrocketing cases of childhood depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations and attempts, physical maladies, and substance abuse and addiction.
It would be one thing if these closures were based on a genuine desire to preserve the health and safety of teachers and students. But as revealed through several recent lawsuits, Myart-Cruz’s efforts to keep LAUSD schools closed were actually based on an ideological agenda that left district officials scratching their heads and asking, in essence, “What does any of this have to do with COVID-19?”
These agenda items include defunding campus police, boycotting Israel, pushing academically dubious subjects like “critical race theory,” universal healthcare, a “millionaires’ tax,” public financial support for illegal immigrants, housing the homeless, rental and eviction relief, and many other issues that have absolutely nothing to do with improving the quality of education for students.
The truth is that UTLA, as led by Cecily Myart-Cruz, is no longer a public labor union tasked with advocating for better wages, hours, and working conditions.
Instead, it has become a “social justice” organization that cares more about pushing Marxist ideology intended to tear down the most prosperous and just society in the history of the world to be replaced with a customized version of Utopia affected through the politics of resentment.
This framework is set out in documents like the “Racial Justice in Education Resource Guide,” provided by the National Education Association, which takes the existence of “systemic racism” as an unquestionable given and proceeds to argue that public teachers must embrace (and pass on to students) ideas including that the U.S. society is inherently racist, that to even question the presumptions of critical race theory is racist and that being white makes you inherently oppressive.
So much for Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that individuals should “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Meanwhile, neo-Marxists lament imaginary power structures while preserving their own. “You can recall the governor. You can recall the school board,” Myart-Cruz boasts. “But how are you going to recall me?”
Such an individual, drunk on their own authority and the righteousness of their intentions, is the last one you want in a position of power. Especially one with the ability to control the educations of 600,000 students.
And while many UTLA members may support the idea of categorizing students according to their race, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics, and teaching them to resent or suspect anyone not in the group to which they have been assigned, there are just as likely many teachers who would rather focus their efforts on being actual educators rather than enablers for the likes of radicals like Myart-Cruz, for whom “(e)ducation is political.”
For most families with children seeking an education through LAUSD, education is anything but political. It is about teaching our children how to think for themselves, not tow the party line.
The only question is how long principled educators in Los Angeles and affected families are going to let Myart-Cruz and her cronies, who are so numbed by hate that they have become blinded to the damage they inflict on the next generation, pretend to represent their interests.
Timothy R. Snowball is a litigation attorney with the Freedom Foundation.