My appearance on Chicago’s Morning Answer: “this is an issue that scares [Democrats] terribly because it cuts across racial groups. It cuts across ethnic groups. And it’s very personal to parents. And that’s why they’re hitting so hard on it.”
On September 2, 2021, I was a guest on Chicago’s Morning Answer with Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson (no relation). I have been on the show many times before, and it’s always a pointed and interesting conversation.
The topic was Critical Race Theory and the pushback taking place by parents around the country, and the pushback to the pushback by school administrators, teachers unions, and CRT activists.
Here is the full audio/video:
(audio here if video doesn’t load).
(Auto-generated, may contain transcription errors. Time stamps are approximate.)
Dan Proft, Host of the “Morning Answer” (03:10):
… How does this all unwind itself, perhaps is a better way to put it. For help with that, we are pleased to be joined again by William Jacobson. He is a Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell Law School.He’s also the founder of LegalInsurrection.com, which is an excellent blog, and president of the Legal Insurrection Foundation. Professor Jacobson, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
William A. Jacobson, Cornell Law Professor and President, Legal Insurrection Foundation (03:20):
Thanks for having me on again.
Dan Proft (03:23):
There are two interesting case studies: what’s happening on Loudoun County, and starting with the actual baseline, which probably very few people know, that the school board member provided. This was a solution in search of a problem, essentially. And then, even when parents do push back and successfully, which people like me and Amy had been suggesting, then the backlash comes. So, if you’re successful, don’t think that the other side just surrenders and then it’s over. They’re coming right back at you, as you were seeing in suburban Milwaukee,
William A. Jacobson (03:55):
Right, there’s been pushback [by parents], which is legitimate, to what the stories parents have been hearing and witnessing, the curriculum that they’ve been witnessing. The more they find out, the more upset they become. So there’s a real problem there. And the pushback has taken a few different forms. The pushback to the pushback, the defense what’s going on, it’s taken a few forms. The first is, “Let’s argue over what the meaning of critical race theory is.” You get into these extended, particularly in the national liberal media, you get into these extended discussions, “Oh, well, maybe they’re doing this and maybe they’re doing that, but that’s not actually critical race theory.” And of course, who cares how you define it.
It’s the practices that parents are witnessing, the shaming of children by race, and focus of everything on race. They’re teaching children that their skin color is the single most important thing in determining their future. It’s these practices that are outgrowths of critical race theory.
So, the first thing they do is they want to get you in this extended argument, kind of like Bill Clinton, on “what is the meaning of ‘is’.” That’s one thing that people have to avoid. But then the other pushback is something that has been the pushback that we’ve known for a long time. They call you names, and they call you some of the worst names you can be called, like being called a racist and things like that. Simply because you actually stand up for the principles of the American civil rights movement, which was that you treat people based on who they are as an individual and their individual merits. And we all have pluses, and we all have minuses. But what you don’t do is you don’t judge people based on the color of their skin. And that’s been our highest guiding principle, really since the mid-1960s. And that’s out the window in a lot of these school districts. That’s the other way that they pushed back, that you’re racist, basically. “If you don’t let us indoctrinate your children, you are racist.”
And the third thing they do is they say, “Oh, you’re just against teaching history. You don’t want to teach history.” And of course, that’s also not true because what people object to is not the teaching of history. I haven’t seen a single person who says you shouldn’t teach about slavery, or you shouldn’t teach about Jim Crow, or anything like that. But you can’t distort history. And that’s what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to make that the single defining issue in the entire history of the nation and the future of the nation, to the exclusion of anything good that might’ve happened in this country. That’s really what you see.
Amy Jacobson, Host of the “Morning Answer” (06:29):
How do you feel if they start teaching about George Floyd and what happened, but hailing him as a hero instead of talking about his criminal background and making that part of the chapter or the weak history of George Floyd?
William A. Jacobson (06:43):
Well, I think it’s hard, first of all, to micromanage these things. And that’s what they use to their advantage. You’ve seen a couple of incidents recently all over the media where a couple of teachers have gone on TikTok or YouTube or wherever and bragged about how they’re indoctrinating children. So, it’s hard to know what’s taking place in every single classroom. But you can at least have standards. And if you’re going to teach about the George Floyd case, or any other criminal case or any other case like that, you should present a balanced view. Now you can’t have somebody monitoring what’s said in every single classroom. That’s just not practical. But you can insist on balance in whatever gets presented in the classrooms. And that’s the standard that teachers need to meet. And therefore, you have to hold them to it.
But it’s just very hard. That’s one of the things. It’s very hard to be in every classroom, knowing what spin various teachers are putting on it. And we know because it’s been documented. They’ve bragged about it. We know that there are teachers who view their role as teachers essentially to be political activists. It’s true in higher education. And it’s true now in lower education in K-12. So that’s a serious problem. And I don’t know that I have the answer to how you avoid the teachers who are there to, as one of them said in the Project Veritas video, “I have six months to turn them into revolutionaries.”
Dan Proft (08:14):
Yeah, 180 days, right? And now that teacher is facing termination because of the pressure that parents put on that school board. So that’s a good example of parents petitioning their school board. And it looks like, more likely than not, they’ll get results. But I guess the question is too, the problem now, because there’s such reward for it, the demand for racialized politics is so great that they will create a supply, even where supply doesn’t exist. So, for example, Loudoun County. They don’t need evidence. And if the evidence is contrary to their position, they just power right through it.
So I guess my question to you is, how do you see this? And what do you say to parents? Just worry about your school district and putting pressure on your school district like they did in Natomas in Sacramento, with the Antifa teacher? Just focus on trying to have the biggest impact where you can have the biggest impact, which is locally in your school district, and don’t try to take on the entire American culture because the entire American culture is lost, but maybe your school district could survive or your college could survive?
William A. Jacobson (09:24):
I think to some extent, that’s true. I think people need to do what they can do. And that’s one of the things that’s pushes people into not doing anything. “This is such a big problem. I can’t change the world.” Well, you don’t have to change the world. But you know what, if you can change your elementary school, and if you have a million parents changing their elementary schools and their middle schools and their high schools. and their school districts, now, all of a sudden, you have changed the country. So, my advice to parents would be to get involved in your local school. Run for school board. Run for town council. Hold them accountable. At the state level, demand that your legislators pass legislation for transparency in schools. We have that problem in Rhode Island. You can’t find out what they’re doing in the schools. [They make you file] for public records requests, they jerk you around on that, and they want to charge you thousands of dollars.
William A. Jacobson (10:18):
And then they sue you. Legal Insurrection brought that case forward, and now it’s a national issue. But it started with us.
The single best thing that a state legislature could do to help parents would be a transparency law. Make sure all the curriculum is posted on the school’s website. Make sure parents have access to classrooms. You can’t have ten parents in every classroom, every day. But there should be a way for a parent to sit-in on a class and hear what’s being said. Transparency is the single most important thing because this battle is going to be fought in thousands of different schools around the country. And in fact, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have announced they want critical race theory or some variation on it in every single school in the country. And therefore you have to be active, and there are so many parents out there. Just get involved and do what you can do.
Amy Jacobson (11:23):
Right, but some educators are telling their kids, forbidding them from discussing the curriculum and exercises with their own parents. What should happen to those teachers?
William A. Jacobson (11:32):
Well, I think that that may not yet violate a policy. But it should. That’s part of transparency. That is something that parents are entitled to know. And therefore, if you had transparency in laws and you had laws that prohibited them from hushing up students about what’s going on, then that would be a policy violation. I don’t know if it is yet. It’s certainly a bad practice… And if you can’t get your state legislators (you live a blue state, and they’re not going to do that because the teacher’s unions don’t want it), see if your local school board can pass a transparency provision. There’s no reason they can’t do it, even if the state won’t mandate it. So, my advice to parents, my urging to parents is, do something. Because doing nothing will allow these national interests to push this really destructive [ideology].
A lot of people use the word “divisive,” but that’s way too mild. This is extremely destructive. This pits students against each other, based on the color of their skin. It pits them against their parents. It tries to separate children from parents by telling them, “Don’t tell your parents.” It was that schoolgirl, I can’t remember how old she was, I think she was eight or nine, who was really upset because her mother had told her, as every mother should, “You can tell me anything.” Except at school they’re telling you, “Don’t tell your mother about critical race theory.”
It’s separates children from their country because it teaches them that somehow the U.S. is uniquely evil in history. And it’s so evil that it can’t be changed. It’s so-called “baked into our system.” It really is way beyond divisive. That’s too kind of a word. It’s destructive to the nation. And therefore, I think people need to speak up about it.
Dan Proft (13:29):
One of the issues that you’re getting at is we don’t have enough troops on the ground, so to speak. There’s a good piece, a few months back by Richard Hanania, who’s an academic at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, “Why everything is liberal,” a pretty data-rich piece over on his Substack. Just a couple of examples. Biden and his associated committees received donations from 5.9 million people, Trump from 3.7 million people. He goes through other, such examples, including the attendees to BLM marches or Occupy Wall Street, as compared to TEA Party or Trump rallies. He writes, “People engage in protest and care more about politics than people who donate money, and people who donate money care more about politics than people who simply vote.” And the Left has a numbers advantage when it comes to the small number of people who try to influence public policy or electoral outcomes.
William A. Jacobson (14:29):
That’s true. I think that’s true. And part of that is the aggressiveness in going after people who, if you donated $20, I think there was somebody recently who donated $20 to Trump. And now they were trying to get him fired from his job. I don’t know if he was fired or something like that.
The Left is extremely aggressive in scaring people away. And parents need to understand if they’re going to stand up, they will get attacked. But, at some point, you’ve got to stand up for your children, and you’ve got to stand up for your community. But I totally understand that it is, at that point, a personal decision. But it’s more than small donors. It’s more than individuals. One of the things we’ve been researching is the groups before behind this national push for CRT. And it is absolutely astounding.
And there are hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into this area, to promote these policies from the Gates Foundation to everybody else. Name-brand foundations that you wouldn’t have thought would be involved in this, are funding groups who are pushing this. There’s one group we looked into called the “Future of Learning.” I never heard of it, except it’s a coalition of 300 groups pushing this stuff. They even produce a messaging guide. Every talking point you have heard, in terms of the defense of what’s going on and the attacks on parents, calling them “astro-turf.” Calling them tools of the Koch brothers. All those sorts of things is in their messaging. And they’ve got about 15 or 20 major foundations funding them, 300 groups.
The power in this society, contrary to what you might hear on CNN, is not with the right-wing, dark money that you hear about. It’s a vast world of left-wing funding by names of foundations that you would be shocked funding this stuff.
Parents are up against a lot. But the difference is there are parents for whom this is the issue. And this is what scares Democrats so much. This is the issue where people really are willing to get involved. And we’re seeing that around the country. And that’s why they’re trying to demonize it just like they did the TEA party movement, by calling it “astroturf,” etc. Because they realize this is one that could hurt them. This is one that hits very close to home for people because it affects their children’s education.
I mean, my goodness, if your child is being taught that showing your proof in math should not be done because it’s an attribute of white supremacy, what could be worse than that? There is not an ethnic group or racial group where the parents don’t want their kids to be taught math properly.
So, this cuts across the racial divide that people try to create. This cuts across the ethnic divide. If you notice in a lot of these towns and school districts that people at the forefront speaking up against these policies are Asian-Americans. It’s happening in Boston. It’s happening in Loudoun County. Because this curriculum they’re pushing and this methodology pushing of so-called “equity” is openly intended to minimize the number of Asian students who get into elite public high schools.
So this is an issue that scares them terribly because it cuts across racial groups. It cuts across ethnic groups. And it’s very personal to parents. And that’s why they’re hitting so hard on it.
Dan Proft (18:12):
All your talk about foundations behind critical race theory, it calls to mind again, a British historian, Robert Conquest, Second Law of Politics, “Any organization not explicitly or constitutionally right-wing will eventually become left-wing.” And that’s what you’ve seen with some of those name-brand foundations that you’re referencing.
He is a Professor William Jacobson, clinical professor of law and director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell Law School, founder of LegalInsurrection.com. LegalInsurrection.com. You should check it out regularly. And president of the Legal Insurrection Foundation. Professor Jacobson, thanks for joining us again.DONATE
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