What to Do About Public Schools?

AP Photo/Noah Berger

The argument that the rage exhibited in the streets of cities around the country in the summer of 2020 — where a billion dollars worth of damage was done and symbols of government and authority were targeted — was carefully incubated and nourished in American schools for years is gaining traction outside the wonky world of white papers and policy analysis.

Parents Defending Education (PDE) has made it very easy for parents and concerned citizens to bolster that argument by merely paying attention to and reporting what they’re seeing. One look at a recent post at their website should have anyone who’s been paying attention struck by the similarities in the rhetoric and tone used by antifa and Black Lives Matter over the summer of 2020 in cities like Portland and Seattle. Be sure to visit the site itself to see the photos this parent submitted.

A parent with a student at Alexander Hamilton High School contacted Parents Defending Education to complain about what he called the “disgusting brainwashing of students with taxpayer dollars.” He attached the photos below. This school is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

In the first photo, an American flag appears to be strewn atop a piece of classroom piece of furniture. Those hanging include the Palestinian flag, the transgender flag, a Black Lives Matter flag and “the modern PRIDE flag.”

The second photo speaks for itself.

While it’s fantastic an organization such as PDE exists now and is blowing the whistle on what’s been happening in public schools, it’s disturbingly obvious these kinds of classroom tactics have been going on for years. A great number of those arrested during the 2020 riots were well past high school age.

As Chris Rufo reported this past Spring for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, “public schools are training children to become race-conscious revolutionaries.”

The City of Portland, a cloud-covered metro on the south bank of the Columbia River, has become known for its political protesters. Anarchists, Communists, ecofascists, and various other agitators regularly denounce the police, politicians of both parties, and America itself, and flag-burning has become part of the protesters’ liturgy. Last summer, protesters associated with Antifa upped the ante with chants of “Death to America” and participated in months of violent protests to avenge the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis. Children as young as four marched with the crowd to the federal courthouse, raising the Black Power fist and chanting “Fuck the Police!”

Famously the “whitest city in America,” Portland has become the unlikely headquarters of race radicalism in the United States. The city has elevated white guilt into a civic religion; its citizens have developed rituals, devotions, and self-criticisms to fight “systemic racism” and “white supremacy.” The culminating expression of this orthodoxy is violence: street militias, calling themselves “antiracists” and “antifascists,” smash windows and torch the property of anyone transgressing the new moral law.

By perpetuating the narrative that America is fundamentally evil, steeping children in race theory, and lionizing the Portland rioters, they have consciously pushed students in the direction of race-based “revolution.” In the language of the Left, the political education programs in Portland-area districts constitute a “school-to-radicalism pipeline”: a training ground for child soldiers. This is not hyperbole: some of the most active and violent anarchist groups in Portland are run by teenagers, and dozens of minors were arrested during last year’s riots. These groups have taken up the mantle of climate change, anticapitalism, antifascism, and Black Lives Matter—whatever provides a pretext for violent “direct action.”

It’s heartening to see think tanks like The Heritage Foundation begin to push back by producing free ebooks that seek to inform parents and teachers how to recognize some of the theories behind the radicalism, Critical Race Theory being the most prominent. But the reality is there’s a problem in American public schools that lies not just with the curriculum but with the teachers promoting it. It’s one thing to foster an environment of free expression — which is how the LA Unified School district brushes off criticism of the wall art at Alexander Hamilton High School — but when a school’s curriculum leads to violent revolutionaries tormenting innocent citizens for months on end and causing fellow Americans to foot the bill for their shenanigans, it’s well past time to address whether or not that free expression is being perverted in the interest of building an army of hostile, anti-liberty revolutionaries.