Op Ed by
Rubén Martinez, MI
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
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.