The Biden Administration recently announced that they made an “error” in pushing the Abolitionist Teaching Network in their handbook “Guide for Racial Justice & Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning.” The material provided schools guidance on how to reopen safely during the pandemic and pushed Critical Race Theory in order to “disrupt Whiteness and other forms of oppression.”
The Department of Education promoted the Abolitionist Teaching Network in the section of their handbook that talked about how schools should consider “race and social and emotional learning.” They wrote that schools are microcosms of society and that the conversations related to race and social-emotional learning are the foundation of educational opportunity.
The DOE recommended the Network’s guide for social and emotional learning and said that learning standards are “rooted in Eurocentric norms” and don’t “empower, love, affirm, or free” Black, Brown, and Indigenous children.
Reporters asked why the radical group was included in a Department of Education handbook and highlighted some of the “radical rhetoric” the network and its board members pushed that fell in line with Critical Race Theory teachings.
The Abolitionist Teaching Network has consistently described itself as an “antiracist” group that promotes liberation for Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks, and all intersecting identities. They have called on educators to remove all “punitive or disciplinary practices” that spirit murder Black, Brown, and Indigenous children. It does not elaborate or offer any explanation on what would be considered a “spirit murder.”
The group’s handbook also claimed that social and emotional learning is a “covert form of policing” used to punish, criminalize, and control Black, Brown, and Indigenous children and adhere them to “White norms.”
The Abolitionist Teaching Network is pushing for training and teachings around “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” which often includes ideology from the writings of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. The group also uses many terms and ideas from Critical Race Theory that suggests America was founded on racist principles and that White people are inherently racist.
But it seems like the Biden Administration is trying to walk back ties to the Abolitionist Teaching Network. The Department of Education issued a statement distancing themselves from the group and CRT teachings.
“The Department does not endorse the recommendations of this group, nor do they reflect our policy positions. It was an error in a lengthy document to include this citation,” the DOJ wrote.
The DOE handbook that included the group was made available to more than 13,000 school districts. They did not explain how the link to the Abolitionist Teaching Network was included in the handbook or if they will issue new guidance. They didn’t explain how the “error” occurred in the first place or if anyone was disciplined for it.
Even though the DOE has said that they will not dictate or recommend a specific curriculum in the American History and Civics Education programs, they said they will still encourage projects that incorporate “racially, ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse perspectives.”
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona did not explain that American History and Civics Education grant applicants must explain how their teaching “take[s] into account systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history; incorporate[s] racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives and perspectives on the experience of individuals with disabilities; [and] encourage[s] students to critically analyze the diverse perspectives of historical and contemporary media and its impact.”
Even though the Biden Administration won’t endorse CRT or incentivize it nationwide, they are still looking to incorporate anti-racist practices into the classroom. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden reversed a Trump-era policy that banned Critical Race Theory in federal diversity training. Why do that if you don’t promote it throughout your presidency?
With all of the math and science deficiencies, our educational system is developing, it’s a wonder why President Biden spends any time on CRT in the first place.