Rantz: Bellevue High School teaches critical race theory with intent to create activists
Apr 6, 2022, 6:00 PM
Critical Race Theory advocates often claim that the racist worldview isn’t taught in schools. They say it’s a graduate-level course that never makes its way into the classroom. These are disingenuous claims.
Left-wing educators often frame material through a CRT lens, precisely the complaint from many parents, politicians, and commentators. This framing allows educators to indoctrinate students by reinforcing a claim that this country was founded on white supremacy and installed systems of oppression that students must dismantle.
In the Bellevue School District, they also teach about CRT directly. The controversy surrounding the racist theory may explain why the district spokesperson refuses to provide meaningful answers to questions about the curriculum.
Critical Race Theory in Bellevue
Five schools in the Bellevue School District teach “Race in the United States” as an elective. The curriculum for the class is the same across all schools.
According to the course description, these classes teach students “themes of social construction of race, movements as a catalyst for change, culture inclusion, institutionalized racism, and equity and social justice policy.” The classes are intended to give students the tools to discuss left-wing views on race and use progressive world view to be leaders in the community.
A Bellevue High School student’s mother shared with the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH an assignment she says teacher Lukas Michener assigned to his class. It’s the introduction to the book “Critical Race Theory (Third Edition): An Introduction.”
“Unlike some academic disciplines, critical race theory contains an activist dimension. It not only tries to understand our social situation, but to change it; it sets out not only to ascertain how society organizes itself along racial lines and hierarchies, but to transform it for the better,” the book states.
Bellevue School District won’t provide details behind the lesson
Given CRT aims to “transform” society, it begs the question: why is Michener teaching this discipline?
If the goal is to inform high school students about a controversial topic that frequently appears in the news, most of us will find that reasonable so long as it’s content-neutral. But if it’s intended to give students tools to “transform” society using CRT principles, it’s disturbing. Using one’s power over a captive audience to create left-wing activists is immoral.
Bellevue School District spokesperson Janine Thorn declined to provide any meaningful answers to questions about the classroom instruction or the curriculum’s intent beyond pointing to the course description three times. This appears to mean that students are supposed to use the principles of CRT — which demands you to “transform” society — and take on “leadership in the community.” In other words: the intent is to churn out political activists. Thorn said she’s not implying that’s the intent and pointed me to the course description.
Michener did not respond to email requests for comment and instead forwarded my email to district administrators. He’s very outspoken on social justice issues elsewhere and it indicates he may use the classroom to forward his left-wing political agenda.
The teacher is a social justice activist
Michener doesn’t make a secret about his political worldview or his goals as a teacher.
A National Education Association 2020 co-nominee for Social Justice Activists of the Year, Michener says teachers are not “neutral actors” when it comes to social justice.
“The idea that we are neutral actors is false. We are not. We have lots of power. We meet with young people every day and we want to ensure there is a just and equitable educational experience for all of them,” he wrote in an essay for the NEA.
“We try to make black students fit into a white system. More than 80 percent of teachers today are white. And that doesn’t at all reflect the young people in our classrooms,” he continued.
Michener is not talking about the Bellevue School District. Black students account for only 3.4% of the student population. Perhaps it’s why he’s unwilling to give up his power, privilege, and teaching position despite demands to do a better job hiring “educators of color.” He does represent the student population.
The teacher is an ‘educator activist’
Teachers who attempt to churn out student activists abuse their power, making sense that parents are upset. Most Americans don’t view the country as institutionally or systemically racist. They certainly don’t want a teacher training students to be activists. But it appears to be what’s happening in Bellevue.
Michener said students inspired him to become what the NEA calls an “educator activist.”
“Unmasking and dealing with issues we face as an historically racist system are absolutely critical to serving these kids,” he said.
He’s so committed to his educator activism that Michener and coworker Terry Jess created a web series to explain how white educators can become anti-racist evangelists. Michener instructs teachers to “think about this in their daily practices, primarily with students.”
“These videos are designed to help white educators who want to be more involved in racial justice activism in public schools,” Jess wrote.
Bellevue School District is pushing your kids into activism
The district doesn’t seem concerned with what appears to be transparent activism in the classroom.
Shouldn’t turning the classroom into an extension of the Democrat party be of concern? Many CRT evangelists probably cheer this on; they support the worldview, so it can be justified. But if educators used a pro-life view to teach kids how to ban abortion, would the district and parents stay silent? Of course not. There would be widespread condemnation and they’d be right to be upset.
Merely agreeing with political activism in a classroom doesn’t justify the activism. There are ways to discuss race in the U.S. without taking a position, including on the issue of CRT. You can respectfully present the concept while explaining why it has such harsh critics.
But teachers like Michener don’t seem interested in an objective, non-partisan discussion. After all, he says, “The idea that we are neutral actors is false.” I think we should take him at his word.
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