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Politics and Education

Op Ed by Rubén Martinez, MI ALMA

The current political crisis in this country has shaken the foundations of our major institutions. Indeed, so grave is the situation that Democracy itself is at stake. Republican leaders have decided that retaining political power at all costs is more important than governing for the Common Good by promoting the general welfare and upholding the Constitution. The crisis is multidimensional. It includes voter suppression legislation, attacks on the legitimacy of our elections, a coordinated assault on academic freedom, among others.

Republicans are now openly politicizing education by trying to determine what can and cannot be taught in schools about the nation’s history of racism and about capitalism. They are promoting the myth of meritocracy in a nation of “isms”; that is, institutional processes that perpetuate social inequalities in society, and there are many in America.

The principal focus of those wanting to censor education is called Critical Race Theory, which is a framework for examining systemic racism by examining how law reproduces racial social hierarchies and other forms of oppressions in society. This effort to determine the education of our young has been going on for some years, but recently it has expanded and intensified by a multitude of regressive legislative bills have been introduced in states across the country, including Michigan. It is an organized and coordinated attack on democratic schooling which threatens to indoctrinate and impose “mind control” by those already seemingly committed to a cult.

The education of our young should be left to teachers and educators, not to conservative politicians in state legislatures. Their political passions overwhelm their ability to understand the importance and purpose of education systems to teach truths about the world in which we live. Do these elected officials really think they can bury and erase this country’s racist histories with policies and lies? Even if their regressive policies were to be upheld in the courts, which I don’t believe they will, they cannot erase history, as people’s lives are what constitute history. While the former President of the U.S. told us to not believe what we see and hear, the daily lives of people are the truths about this country’s processes of social inequality.

Further, today there are many media outlets and suppression of racial oppression will simply attract the attention of the young who are inquisitive and critical, and they will study and generate they own truths from daily life. Still, we should not have to defend the rights of students to learn about changing forms of group domination and how they shape the future of their society. Given today’s highly charged political environment, we must stand up for a free and open education for our youth.

As a nation, there is only one way to pursue a higher social order and that is by confronting the mistakes of the past and envisioning an equitable and just America. This means defending and promoting freedom of speech as well as academic freedom. Politicians should not dictate the contents of our education systems. To reduce the education of our young to a series of regressive content policies is to undermine the purpose of education and the well-bring of our communities and the nation as a whole. This is not the way to a better America, instead it is a giant step backward.

 

 

 
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Revised: 08/03/21 18:32:02 -0700.

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