AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
As contentious school board meetings continue to make headlines nationwide, left-wing groups rallied last week in Johnston, Iowa, in support of Critical Race Theory in what was billed as a “March Against 1776” – the year in which the Declaration of Independence was signed and most Americans recognize as the founding of the country. The planned protest follows a school board election in Johnston earlier this month where concerned parents voted out three board members, including the board president, amid concerns over Critical Race Theory and other anti-American ideologies being taught in classrooms.
Following campaigns throughout the country this year where education issues took center stage, the Iowa rally is the latest example of the far left of moving toward a more open embrace of Critical Race Theory based on arguments (however dubious) about its merits as an educational tool. That shift has also been characterized by explicit attacks on conventional teaching of American history. In Johnston, for example, protestors chanted “hey hey ho ho 1776 has got to go” and “CRT is here to stay.” Some protestors also sported signs that read “#DownWith1776” and “patriotism in education = erasure and indoctrination.”
This new messaging strategy from the far left on Critical Race Theory marks a drastic about-face from just a few months ago, when many of the same left-wing voices largely sought to downplay the influence of Critical Race Theory in schools by either claiming that the doctrine was “made up” or that it was only taught in high-level graduate courses. Both of those notions have been repeatedly disproven.
Now, instead of saying that CRT isn’t taught in schools, left-wing protestors in Johnston – normally a quiet midwestern community – are not only admitting that CRT is taught in schools, but are also claiming that it should be taught in schools. Moreover, they are explicitly calling for erasing the legacy of 1776 – in other words, rewriting American history to advance their socialist-Marxist political agenda.
The Community of Racial Equity, March for our Lives, and Johnston Parents for Equity and Antiracism all took credit for leading the protest, which was staged as a reaction to the election of three candidates to the school board, Derek Tidball, Clint Evans, and Deb Davis.
Specifically, the protestors took issue with Tidball, Evans, and Davis signing ‘The 1776 Pledge’ during their campaigns, in which candidates say that they believe, among other things, that the United States is an “exceptional nation,” the Founding Fathers “were among the greatest Americans to ever live,” and that students “should be taught to take pride in their country, to respect our founding principles of liberty and equality, and to have a sense of American history that is both truthful and inspiring.”
Signers also promise to take concrete steps if elected to “promote a curriculum that teaches that all children are created equal, have equal moral value under God, our Constitution, and the law,” and to “prohibit any curriculum that pits students against one another on the basis of race or sex.”
After signing the Pledge, Tidball, Evans, and Davis all defeated incumbent members of the board. As they prepared to be sworn in last week, however, those gathered for the protest arrived to demand that they denounce it. Although opponents of the Pledge spent about 40 minutes speaking out against it during the board meeting, none of the newly-installed board members showed any indication that they intended to renounce their support.
The Pledge was created by the group 1776 Action, an organization inspired by President Trump’s 1776 Commission, which was founded to promote a truthful understanding of American history and counter left-wing narratives about America. President Biden disbanded the Commission just hours after taking office. The organization says that its mission is to restore “honest, patriotic education” to schools and “spotlight and correct egregious instances of anti-American indoctrination.”
1776 Action also issued a statement backing all three candidates, saying that “it is absolutely vital that patriotic Americans reclaim control of their local school boards.”
After becoming perhaps the defining issue of the state and local elections earlier this month, education promises to continue to be at the forefront of voters’ minds heading into the midterm elections next year. If the far left continues to double down on Critical Race Theory and other radical ideology in public schools, Democrats may be poised to suffer a repeat of what happened in Johnston all across the country.
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