The nation’s largest teachers union voluntarily put itself in the crosshairs of Republican attacks on critical race theory. At its annual representative assembly, the National Education Association passed a business item pledging that the union “in coordination with national partners, NEA state and local affiliates, racial justice advocates, allies, and community activists, shall build powerful education communities and continue our work together to eradicate institutional racism in our public school system.”
In addition to the addition of a task force that “that identifies the criteria for safe, just, and equitable schools, including exploring the role of law enforcement in education,” the NEA plans to join campaigns to, among other things, tackle the school-to-prison pipeline, press for funding formulas that reduce racial and wealth disparities, push for hiring of more educators of color, and—and here’s the part where Republican heads explode—“Result in increasing the implementation of culturally responsive education, critical race theory, and ethnic (Native people, Asian, Black, Latin(o/a/x), Middle Eastern, North African, and Pacific Islander) Studies curriculum in pre- K-12 and higher education.” In short: Oh, you want to demonize something that’s not even really being taught in K-12 schools? Fine, we’ll make plans to actually teach it.
Introducing the business item, Illinois high school science teacher Eric Brown said it would “address the issues that politicians have sought to divide us over, but more importantly, it will define what we mean by ‘just, safe, and equitable,’ and it provides the supports our members, locals, and states need to continue to lead on racial justice in spite of those politicians.”