English teachers may look for guidance to an “antiracist” expert like Lorena German, who chairs the Committee on Anti-Racism for the National Council on the Teaching of English (NCTE). At the height of the recent urban unrest, while police cars and buildings were set ablaze by anarchists and looters, German tweeted: “Educators: what are you burning? Your White-centered curriculum? The Amy Cooper next door? Your anti-Black behavior policies? The school’s racist policies? Your racist ass principal? The funding for the police in schools vs counselors? WHAT ARE YOU BURNING???!!?!?!?!?”
German’s call to commit arson may have been metaphorical. But antiracist schools will teach very different material from the schools of yesteryear. “Transforming Our Public Schools: A Guide to Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education,” created by the NYC Culturally Responsive Education Working Group, explains to teachers that “the whole Western canon is rife with horrible stories and atrocities of who we are as people of color.”
For their part, the National Committee on Social Studies’ Early Childhood/Elementary Community has promised to overhaul content, explaining that “to stop the systemic, and we are talking about system-wide policies and practices, the systemic pattern of dehumanization . . . we need to start early. WE, as educators, and family members, need to flood our children with counter messages. . . . Messages that show #BlackLivesMatter and that it is essential to elevate that message until there is no racial inequality in economic opportunity, no racial inequality in education, no racial inequality in incarceration rates, and no brutality from police and others.”
This sounds like a call for an open-ended propaganda campaign. Indeed, in a public letter, the National Association of Secondary School Principals called on school leaders to create “culturally responsive schools” in order to build a nation “worthy of our highest ideals and intolerant of the idea that one man has the right to end the life of another because of his skin color.” If one truly believes that America today is a nation tolerant of that idea, then “flood[ing] our children with counter messages” might be the only moral course of action.