April 21, 2022

Shane Phipps: The Far Right Wants Me to Indoctrinate Students with Lies

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Shane Phipps looks at the continuing chipping away at diversity in public education.

States with far-right conservative leadership are continuing their siege on public education. The most recent example comes from—surprise, surprise—Florida, and Governor Ron DeSantis. Florida’s state board of education recently rejected large percentage of the new math textbooks submitted for consideration, many based upon the claim that these math textbooks included attempts to indoctrinate students with aspects of Critical Race Theory. Florida has already been leading the way in the wide-spread national push (in over 30 states) to give parents unprecedented control over curriculum in public schools by allowing them to reject any material that in any way goes against their deeply held social-religious beliefs, or material that might be deemed to make their students feel uncomfortable. Governor DeSantis had this to say about the latest mass banning of books in the Sunshine State:

“It seems that some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of…indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students.” 

The fact that they are now so broadly rejecting even math books seems to reveal a new level of paranoia among those of DeSantis’ ilk. They seem bound and determined to try to make all material presented to students—particularly the youngest and most impressionable students—paint a picture of a nation that is completely free of obstacles for anyone who merely has the gumption to swallow their story whole, assimilate into their version of America, and do their best. Any hint of material that would suggest that some groups of people in America have had to overcome things that others haven’t simply because of who they were born to be is seen as mendacious propaganda that must be eradicated at all cost.

I predict that the next big wave of attacks from the far-right will be to attempt to eliminate from public schools anything on the order of celebrating diversity in any form, i.e. Black History Month, Indigenous Peoples Day, Women’s history units, and so on. This is already happening in some places, but I expect this will be pushed much harder very soon, especially if, as I suspect will happen, the GOP sees great gains in Congress in the upcoming midterm election cycle.

This is all just another battle in the long war on public education that the far-right wing of the GOP has been—admittedly brilliantly—orchestrating for decades.

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