As school year comes to a close, vigilant parents put schools on the defensive for woke curriculum content

Sara Marcellino is a wife, mom and small business owner – and most recently, a de facto detective – a role she never thought she’d have to play.

She had a hunch that Critical Race Theory and…

Sara Marcellino is a wife, mom and small business owner – and most recently, a de facto detective – a role she never thought she’d have to play.

She had a hunch that Critical Race Theory and other “woke” principles were being taught to her kids and their classmates in their Missouri high school – and it might be up to her to find out.

“They’re doing so much school work online, on their computers, that parents don’t even see it,” she explains.

When a fellow Warrenton High School parent mentioned a troubling AP Language Arts assignment, Marcellino knew her instincts had been right. “[The student] didn’t feel comfortable with it. She was completing the assignment at home, went to her dad and told him, and he immediately knew what it was.”

It was an Implicit Association Test (IAT) that measures black vs. white bias; in essence, how racist the test taker is. The premise of this type of test? By answering the questions as quickly as possible – based more on impulse than thinking about the socially acceptable way to answer – the test-taker’s “true” attitudes or beliefs will be revealed.

 The test is intended for adults 18 or older, according to the official website. But it was administered to underclassmen at Warrenton High – which to Marcellino, is equivalent to engraining an agenda in young minds that are still developing. “We already know they do it at the universities, but they’re trying to do it at a younger and younger age, before they even get to college.”

 Warrenton High School parents aren’t alone. The Heritage Foundation published a scathing critique of this psychological test, entitled “The Implicit Association Test: Flawed Science Tricks Americans into Believing They Are Unconscious Racists.”

Among the concerns? Mainly that the test doesn’t accurately identify racism. The author states: “One-tenth of a second can lead to highly charged accusations of racism,” and “test results are not closely related to any other measures of discrimination.”

The IAT’s test description states: “[This test] indicates that most Americans have an automatic preference for white over black.” But according to the Heritage Foundation’s report, “Estimates of false positives range from 60 percent to 90 percent. This high probability of error has led its original proponents to conclude that it should be used with caution.”

If these statistics are accurate, 60-90% of the “positives” – the teens in the class who were deemed “racist” by the test – may have in fact been “false positives.” But what harm might this do to these impressionable minors?

Marcellino believes telling kids that they automatically prefer European Americans to African Americans only makes matters worse: “It increases the divide and might make people more racist,” she worries. 

And she isn’t alone in her concerns. She’s one of several parents who’ve brought instances of controversial material being taught to their kids to the attention of the state’s attorney general.

In March, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt launched The Students First Initiative. It enables parents to submit concerns about objectionable policies and curriculum. By doing so, Schmitt hopes to empower parents, bring transparency back to Missouri’s schools and “identify and eliminate these objectionable practices.”

 Schmitt’s office provided The Lion with the most recent submissions. Examples include:

  • The “gender unicorn” and “genderbread person” which normalize the concept of gender fluidity to children.
  • An “oppression matrix” and a “wheel of power/privilege”, which categorize students based on race, wealth and other characteristics they don’t control. Teacher training at one elementary school also included “exposing privileged students” as a goal.
  • Inappropriate books that have been found in school libraries, which featured graphic, comic strip-style pornography too objectionable to share.

In response to these submissions, the attorney general’s office has launched multiple Sunshine Law requests in its investigations and is advocating for new laws protecting parents’ rights. Schmitt says, “It is my hope that the legislature will pass crucial legislation to improve education for millions of children across the state.”

For Marcellino, this legal action couldn’t come fast enough. “We’ve gotten to the position we’re in now by doing nothing, and not realizing what was happening as it shifted,” she laments. “If parents want to teach their kids about these things at home, that’s fine. They have the right to do that.” 

But she says public schools aren’t the place for it: “Everyone wants to advance their agendas. They have their ideologies, and they’re trying to bring them in and feed this stuff to our students. It’s very concerning.”