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E-Pluribus | November 9, 2021
The Great Woke North, school board moms speak up, and Making America Sane Again.
A round up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Jonathan Kay: Anti-Racism as Office-Politics Power Play: a Canadian Academic Case Study
The United States is not the only country whose educational establishment is facing the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion question. Jonathan Kay at Quillette takes a look at the agenda of the latest membership meeting of an organization in our neighbor to the north, Universities Canada, and how “anti-racism” is not simply about race, but about power and who will wield it.
Building a Race-Conscious Institution demonstrates how deeply anti-racism has penetrated the administrative sinew of institutional academic culture—to such extent that it’s now difficult to disentangle the radical postures of the anti-racist movement from the everyday careerism, bureaucracy, and faculty-lounge politics that have pervaded universities since time immemorial. The author’s policy prescriptions, in particular, seem to combine the worst of both worlds, with university administrators being urged to weaponize the idiom of anti-racism as a means to impose ideological uniformity, expand their own powers, raise their own salaries, and strip academics of their traditional prerogatives. (Last week, I asked Universities Canada officials how much they’d paid Ms. al Shaibah to prepare this report. I received no reply.)
In her report, Ms. al Shaibah argues that a “trained Equity Advisor” should be personally involved in every hiring decision. She also argues that hiring-committee members must be required to complete unconscious-bias training; that all job applicants must be asked to submit a “State of Contributions to EDI” attestation; that job-evaluation criteria must “integrate EDI”; that “interview questions include assessment of EDI”; and that “Employment Equity goals” must be “prioritized when multiple finalists are in the ‘zone of excellence’” (a model she proposes as part of a larger “counternarrative to the myth of meritocracy”). All of these race-related mandates (and many more besides), it is proposed, would be enforced though an extensive and closely supervised system of checklists, spreadsheets, and reports that academics would be required to submit to senior EDI officials (sample copies of which Ms. al Shaibah has helpfully included in Building a Race-Conscious Institution).
Read it all.
Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich: What ‘school board moms’ really want — and why candidates ignore us at their peril
The Virginia governor’s election, as we noted yesterday, has shaken up the electorate and should shake up some politicians as well when it comes to educational priorities. Two women who founded an organization called Moms for Liberty argue in an essay for the Washington Post that the trend is by no means limited to Virginia and that parents throughout the country are likely to rise up if their concerns for their children’s futures are not adequately addressed.
Our movement is about something much more profound. Frustrated by an education system that has long put powerful interests above the well-being of students, parents are finally reclaiming our natural right to direct the education, upbringing and care of our children.
Two years ago, few would have imagined that schools would become the next hot-button political topic. But by spring 2020, the covid-19 pandemic had children across America distance-learning at their kitchen tables. Parents were suddenly within earshot of teachers’ lessons. Many were astonished to find that, instead of being simply taught reading, writing and arithmetic, their kids were being fed lessons on highly divisive topics of questionable academic benefit.
As concerned parents became more attentive to what was happening in their children’s schools — or, more often, to why children were being kept out of their schools — they came to realize that three groups define education today: teachers unions, school boards often handpicked by the unions and big businesses. None of them put students’ interests first.
The pandemic brought this into sharp relief. Internal emails show that the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers shaped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on returning to school — fulfilling their own wants, but perpetuating a terrible situation for students. In Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school district, the teachers union last year declared that defunding the police and imposing a wealth tax should be prerequisites for returning to the classroom. This summer, Chicago’s teachers union insisted the school district provide rent assistance for students’ families and fund a “restorative justice coordinator” for every school before they would resume in-person instruction.
Read it all here.
Gerard Baker: Voters Decide to Make America Sane Again
Continuing the theme of the recent elections, The Wall Street Journal’s Gerard Baker writes that voters around the country were making a statement with their votes, trying to pull the country back from the post-Trump backlash of the past year. Voters want America to be great, yes, but sane would be good, too.
In Virginia, the rebuff to the woke educational establishment in a Democratic state was a firm message from the people that, no, the lunatics won’t be allowed to run the asylum. In New Jersey, voters sent a stern warning of their impatience with Covid authoritarianism. In Buffalo, citizens in large numbers patiently told their Democratic leaders that socialism wasn’t the answer. In Minneapolis and Seattle, people voted to stop the police-dismantling idiocy.
Almost everywhere, in fact, voters signaled they would really like their representatives to focus on sane, rational policies and clean up the various messes they have helped create.
And you realize as you contemplate these results—and look forward perhaps to more of the same next year—that it isn’t America, or most Americans, who’ve gone off the rails these past few years. It’s the American leadership class. Seized of their own righteousness, convinced by their own propaganda, pickled in their own ideology, drunk on their own Kool-Aid, these so-called leaders—political, media, corporate, academic—have come dangerously close to taking the country over the cliff.
Read the whole thing.
The announcement of the launch of The University of Austin, promoted by its founders as “devoted to the unfettered pursuit of truth”, has been met with enthusiasm, skepticism and even derision:
Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute on media coverage of Critical Race Theory:
And finally, a couple of excerpts from a thread by Robby Soave of Reason with a reminder how due process works, important even when (or especially when?) it might bring about an unpopular outcome: