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US biggest teachers union adopts measure to promote & defend critical race theory, controversial 1619 project

A series of measures aimed at promoting the concept was adopted at the NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly, taking place virtually this year from June 30 to July 3. First reported by Christopher Rufo, who has been at the centre of Republican-driven push to banish CRT from public schools, the plan will see NEA “share and publicize, through existing channels, information already available on critical race theory (CRT)” as well as resisting attempts to “ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.”

Another measure will see the NEA backing and leading campaigns that “result in increasing the implementation” of critical race theory and other ethnic-centered studies “in pre- K-12 and higher education”

Denouncing the plan, Rufo has interpreted it to mean that “the argument that “critical race theory isn’t in K-12 schools” is officially dead.” 

With some 3 million members and affiliates in about 14,000 communities across the US, NEA has been a powerful lobbying group, that has generously contributed to liberal causes, spending millions in donations to liberal groups and Democratic candidates in the 2020 election cycle, including funneling $176.649 directly to President Joe Biden’s campaign, according to the ‘Open Secrets’ website. The NEA, which counts Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, among its long-time members, drew praise from the president as recently as on Friday, with Biden calling it “one of America’s indispensable organizations.”  

Proponents of CRT say that it is just another academic concept, teaching that racism in America is systemic, and permeates its legal system as well as policies. Critics of the CRT see it as a dangerous “Marxist idelogy” which is “inherently bigoted” and serves only to pit different races against each other.

The New York Times 1916 project has also drawn criticism for what its opponents saw as an attempt to reframe US history as racist. The project’s founder, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, courted controversy for stating that 1619  – the year when first African slaves were brought to Jamestown colony – was the year of America’s “true founding.” Jones, however, later appeared to backtrack, clarifying that she wanted only to highlight the significance of the moment for the country’s history.

Former US President Donald Trump lambasted both CRT and 1619 Project, suggesting countering them with new patriotic education. Carrying the torch, about two dozen states have passed or are considering legislation aimed at banning teaching theories that portray the US is inherently racist. 

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