Jefferson County Public Schools Celebrate Cop Killer’s Memoir

by Christopher Paslay

The celebration of convicted cop killer Assata Shakur’s life story is indicative of the polarizing identity politics infiltrating Jefferson County Public Schools. 

Since the death of George Floyd in May of 2020, the Jefferson County Public Schools have brought a polarizing brand of identity politics into Louisville, Kentucky. In an effort to celebrate women’s history month, the school district’s Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Department posted “11 Must-Read Books About Black Women in History” on the school district blog, the first of which was Assata — the autobiography of convicted cop killer Assata Shakur.

Shakur, whose legal name is Joanne Chesimard, was involved in the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973, and is currently on the F.B.I.’s Most Wanted List

Jefferson County Public School children are not encouraged to read Assata to help bring Chesimard to justice, but to celebrate “the depth and richness of Black women’s history in the United States.

If the celebration of a radical activist and convicted cop killer shocks you, it’s probably because you haven’t looked deep enough into the Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Department of Jefferson County Public Schools.  Underneath the well-sounding mission statements and smiling faces on their webpage, the district is pushing a progressive brand of polarizing identity politics rooted in critical race theory.  Using a Marxist approach that stereotypes children by race and divides society into “oppressors” and “oppressed,” Jefferson County Public Schools are indoctrinating students to believe that their racial identity is the primary determinant of success in their lives.

Instead of using a values-based approach to achieve equality — one that promotes communication, understanding, and mutual accountability among the races — Jefferson County Public Schools are pushing an identity-based model that believes one group of people must be targeted, disrupted, or dismantled in order for another group to succeed.  In August of 2020, an elementary school in the district required its teachers to participate in a Zoom training titled “You Are Going to Have To Talk About Race.”

Slides from the training, leaked by a concerned teacher, reveal just how eager Jefferson County Public Schools are to force staff and students to see the world through the polarizing lens of skin color.  The second slide in the presentation stated that “Race . . . is a creation designed to keep Black people (and people of color) serving versus thriving in any system in the United States.”

This statement is concerning because it implies that the whole of the United States is broken, that all of its systems are purposely designed to victimize Blacks and people of color to keep them from succeeding.  In other words, students of color are not the captain of their own ship with control over their lives. They are simply a member of an oppressed identity group, not an individual who is personally empowered to shape his or her own future. 

Another slide, titled “Keep Trying,” made it clear that when it came to having conversations about race, there were different sets of rules for Whites and people of color.  A teacher who attended the training explained that the conversations were not mutual, or aimed at any kind of shared responsibility. Whites were considered the oppressors and Blacks were the oppressed.  And as such, the opinions, perceptions, and experiences of Whites were discounted and dismissed, while the opinions and experiences of people of color were praised and considered valid.  If you were White, you needed to keep your mouth shut, sit still, and listen to how oppressive you were.  

Does this sound like an approach that’s going to increase communication and mutual understanding?  An approach that’s going to bring any kind of holistic solution to injustice?

A slide titled “They’re not too young to talk about race!” attempted to racialize toddlers and preschool children, claiming that “silence about race reinforces racism.”  But this notion is completely false.  Children learn to interact positively with people of other races through principles and values, not through fixating on skin color. The content of character beneath the color of skin is the most important variable in race relations, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so rightly pointed out.

By far the most disturbing slide of the session asked teachers to “shift the historical focus of power from the privileged to the persecuted!” Here there was a picture of a shackled Black man hogtied to a pole, hands bound to his feet with rope.  According to a teacher in attendance, educators were told to stare at the picture, no matter how uncomfortable, in order to truly grasp the plight of people of color in America.  

Another slide stated that “compliance and neutrality are acts of racism,” communicating to teachers that they’d better get on board with critical race theory or be stigmatized accordingly.   

Even more concerning, a slide titled “Authentic Classroom Strategies” asked teachers to “get comfortable using words like whiteness, white supremacy, privilege, people of color, black, racist, racism, and oppression.”  Put another way, it suggested teachers should get used to dividing their students into polarizing camps based on skin color, and indoctrinating them in Marxist ideologies that turn Whites and Blacks against each other by stereotyping them as “oppressors” and “oppressed.” 

Most of this is cleverly hidden from parents and the public, of course.  Proactive words such as “equity” and “diversity” bring to mind positive images of fairness and freedom, as do the bright smiles of the children on the Jefferson County Public Schools webpage.  A deeper dive into the resources on their page, however, reveal just how strongly the district believes racial identity is a central determinant of success in the lives of their staff and students.

A document called “Affirming Racial Equity Tool,” which educators are encouraged to use when planning lessons, incorporate so-called “descriptors” into the lessons — guidelines which make race and identity the prominent factor in planning objectives.  One equitable lesson descriptor states that the lesson should “provide context to the history of privilege and oppression,” while another states the lesson should “engage students to recognize and critique power relationships.”  

Again, the Marxist elements are clear and present: oppressors vs. oppressed.  Universal values associated with content of character — such as honesty, tolerance, compassion, and self-reflection — have been hijacked and corrupted by identity politics, and are no longer viewed as absolute, but are now seen as relative to race and culture.  Which begs the question: Isn’t love, love, no matter whether it’s Black or White? Isn’t grief, grief, no matter whether it’s brown or yellow?  

Not under the tenets of critical race theory in 21st century America. Everything must remain culturally relative and without objective truth, which enables the racial polarization needed to perpetuate identity politics.  Even the literal definitions of words describing race and racism are constantly changing, a lexicon of terms created and controlled by progressives obsessed with skin color. 

The “Racial Equity Tools Glossary,” linked to Jefferson County Public Schools’ “Affirming Racial Equity Tool,” is quite eye-opening.  Here they conveniently define everything from “racist ideas” and “racist policies,” to “whiteness,” “white privilege,” and “white supremacy culture.” 

And what is “white supremacy culture”?  According to the Racial Equity Tools Glossary: “White Supremacy Culture refers to the dominant, unquestioned standards of behavior and ways of functioning embodied by the vast majority of institutions in the United States. These standards may be seen as mainstream, dominant cultural practices; they have evolved from the United States’ history of white supremacy.”

So there you have it: Jefferson County Public School children are being taught America is a systemically racist country run by a bunch of white supremacists.  It’s unclear how this is going to empower students to take responsibility for their lives and education, or give them the values needed to look past the superficial notion of race to the content of character. 

Not to worry, however.  Children in Jefferson County Public Schools may not be learning the lessons of Martin Luther King, Jr., but they will get to celebrate the life of Assata Shakur, who helped murder New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973, and is currently on the F.B.I.’s Most Wanted List. 

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’ll be interested in reading my new book, Exploring White Fragility: Debating the Effects of Whiteness Studies on America’s Schools, which takes an honest look at how things like critical race theory and anti-racism are negatively impacting classrooms across America.  You can buy the book on Amazon, or purchase it directly from the publisher, Rowman & Littlefield.

My Interview with Dom Giordano on 1210 WPHT Talk Radio: The Effects Of Anti-Racism Lessons On America’s Schools

Long-time radio host Dom Giordano, an educator in a past life, returns with his fourteenth installment of his podcast centered on the ever-changing landscape of education. This week, Giordano is joined by Christopher Paslay, Philadelphia teacher and author of Exploring White Fragility: Debating the Effects of Whiteness Studies on America’s SchoolsIn Exploring White Fragility, Paslay takes an in-depth look into the concept of ‘white fragility’ and ‘white guilt’ as the two phrases have become regular topics in discussions of race. In the book, and on his new YouTube channel, Paslay examines the effects that whiteness studies have on America’s schools, and investigates how the antiracist movement to dismantle “white supremacy culture” is impacting student and teacher morale and expectations, school discipline, and overall academic achievement. For more from Paslay, check out his YouTube channel HERE. 

California ‘Ethnic Studies’ Turns Students Into Aggrieved Activists

As Christopher Rufo reported in a City Journal article titled “Merchants of Revolution, “California public schools are embarking on a new experiment: education as social justice. Earlier this year, the state Department of Education approved an ethnic studies model curriculum, and individual school districts have begun to implement programs that advocate ‘decolonizing’ the United States and ‘liberating’ students from capitalism, patriarchy, and settler colonialism.” Thanks for Watching. 

Does ‘A Place Inside of Me?’ Teach Kids to Resent Police?

Some parents have objected to Zetta Elliot’s pro-BLM book “A Place Inside of Me,” suggesting it foments fear and resentment of police. This video looks at two approaches for teaching the book: one which deals with addressing the numerous sources of violence in urban communities and helping kids process such violence while advocating for solutions; and one which solely focusses on violence by police, an approach Elliot takes with the book. Thanks for watching.

US Olympic Committee Allows Political Protests and Kneeling During Anthem

by Christopher Paslay

The USOPC has bowed to pressure from activists groups, and has placed a political agenda ahead of the interests of American athletes during the US Olympic trials.

According to an article in American Greatness: 

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said this week they will not sanction athletes for raising their fists or kneeling during the national anthem at Olympic trials, despite a decades-long policy banning protests at the official games.

The USOPC released a nine-page document Tuesday about the sort of ‘racial and social demonstrations’ that will and won’t be allowed.  Holding up a fist, kneeling during the anthem and wearing hats or face masks with phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” or words such as “equality” or “justice,” will be permitted, according to the document.

This decision goes against International Olympic Committee rules, however.  According to “Rule 50 Guidelines” developed by the IOC Athlete’s Commission: 

As athletes, we are passionate about our sports and achieving our sporting performance goals. For each and every one of us, that passion continues into everyday life, where we advocate for change on issues of great importance to us and our world. That desire to drive change can naturally make it very tempting to use the platform of an appearance at the Olympic Games to make our point. 

However, all of us are here at the Olympic Games because, one day, we dreamt of being an Olympian, and maybe even an Olympic champion. The unique nature of the Olympic Games enables athletes from all over the world to come together in peace and harmony. We believe that the example we set by competing with the world’s best while living in harmony in the Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world. This is why it is important, on both a personal and a global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations. 

If we do not, the life’s work of the athletes around us could be tarnished, and the world would quickly no longer be able to look at us competing and living respectfully together, as conflicts drive a wedge between individuals, groups and nations. That is not to say that you should be silent about the issues you care deeply about, and below you will find a list of places where you can express your views at the Olympic Games. 

Where are protests and demonstrations not permitted during the Olympic Games?

At all Olympic venues, including:

  • On the field of play
  • In the Olympic Village
  • During Olympic medal ceremonies
  • During the Opening, Closing and other official Ceremonies

The USOPC doesn’t seem to care about this, however.  They’ve bowed to pressure from activists groups which want to put a political agenda ahead of the interests of American athletes during the US Olympic trials.  

Whether the USOPC will place political activism over honest athletic competition during the actual Olympic Games — promoting Black Lives Matter instead of celebrating America’s Olympians — remains to be seen. 

Discussing Critical Race Theory with Deb Fillman on ‘The Reason We Learn’

Deb Fillman, a homeschooling parent of three, online educator, and former classroom teacher with an MSed from the UPENN Graduate School of Education, hosts a YouTube channel called “The Reason We Learn.” Deb has 10 years of experience homeschooling, tutoring, and teaching online, and runs a tutoring service to help families develop customized education experiences for their children in grades K-12. Yesterday, Deb invited me on her podcast, where we discussed Robin DiAngelo, Critical Race Theory, and the future of public education in America. 

GoFundMe Removes Loudoun County Parent Group for Opposing Critical Race Theory

According to the Washington Free Beacon: “GoFundMe bowed to pressure from progressive activists and deactivated a fundraiser affiliated with a group of Virginia parents fighting the infusion of critical race theory in Loudoun County Public Schools. Scott Mineo created his GoFundMe in mid-March after members of a private Facebook group called Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County launched an intimidation campaign against a number of parent groups, including his Parents Against Critical Theory. The group compiled a list of parents, identified their spouses and employers, and called for members to find ways to shut down their websites.” Thanks for watching.