Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center shares her testimony before the State Board of Education
Washington Policy Center
Yesterday I testified before the State Board of Education regarding their plan to establish an Ethnic Studies graduation requirement. Before I testified, the State Board heard from their consultant, graduate student Jasmin Patron-Vargas, who walked the Board through her Ethnic Studies Concept paper, here. The purpose of Ethnic Studies, she said orally and in writing, is to “destabilize the K-12 education curriculum.” She characterized this curriculum as a “system of oppression.” She explained the goal of Ethnic Studies is “tearing down the default, “tearing down the standard,” “tearing down those conventional views and perspectives that have dominated education.”
Ms. Patron-Vargas’ candor confirmed my research. Here is my testimony to the State Board:
Good afternoon, my name is Liv Finne, Director for Education, Washington Policy Center.
In the chat box is a link to our study of the Ethnic Studies curriculum under discussion. The testimony we heard earlier (from Ms. Patron-Vargas) confirms WPC research that public school officials are lowering academic standards as they implement Critical Race Theory. The current Ethnic Studies/Critical Race Theory approach is already destabilizing public education in Washington state, by creating unnecessary controversy, and causing many families and teachers to leave the public schools.
Learning emphasis on math, science, writing skills, reading comprehension and independent thinking for all students is being reduced. These neutral skill standards are being replaced with a new racially-based focus on “white supremacy culture,” “settler colonialism,” “racism,” “power dynamics,” “position and privilege,” and “racial bias.” These concepts are drawn from the controversial Critical Race Theory ideology disseminated by socialist professors at universities. They have not been developed by professionals in child development or pedagogical experts in K-12 education, and they shift student focus away from study time on core learning and subject mastery.
For example, in English study, instead of gaining mastery in sentence structure, vocabulary, self-expression and communication, students receive instruction in the areas of: “White supremacy,” “Institutional racism,” and “White privilege.”
In the study of history, students will spend class time on: “Oppression,” “White Supremacy,” and Racial Democracy,” instead of learning the major political, economic and social causes behind important events, the clash of nations, the rise of governments, or the movement of peoples around the globe.
In math, the Ethnic Studies Framework provides that students will be asked to: “…identify how math has been and continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color” and “who gets to say if an answer is right?
By reducing class study time, demoralizing students and constraining professional educators, the Ethnic Studies and CRT agendas deny students access to the basic skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in life and compete in a global society. Lower standards also prevent students from reaching their fullest personal potential.
The families of 55,000 students, more students than the largest district in the state, have pulled their kids out of Washington’s public schools. The false Ethnic Studies/Critical Race Theory ideas now in the schools is one of the reasons we are seeing this exodus. Families don’t want their white grade-school kids taught they are evil racists, and they don’t want their black and brown children taught they are permanently oppressed victims doomed to failure.
I support the Fair For All curriculum as a truly human, pro-person Ethnic Studies curriculum that our state should adopt. We should not be adopting these Ethnic Studies and Critical Race Theory falsehoods and teaching them to our students.
Last May the state legislature passed SB 5044, the Critical Race Theory training mandate. Repealing SB 5044 would help protect public education in Washington state from these divisive, harmful, and destabilizing Critical Race Theory ideas.
Liv Finne is the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.