A devastating critique of the debauched state of public schools in America was just delivered, and it didn’t come from the right.
Essayist and critic Wesley Yang published an open letter on his Substack account from a man he described as “an anonymous teacher, in a blue state.” The letter exposes the absurdities woke policies have created, even for a teacher who is fully subscribed to leftist thinking.
“I’m a leftist. Like, a big one,” the teacher admits. “I hate capitalism, I support abortion on demand, and I un-ironically use phrases like ‘systems of oppression’ and ‘the dominant culture.’ The last big paper I put together for my undergraduate degree was on Critical Race Theory, for the love of God!
“I’m not the sort of person who can be easily dismissed as a conservative crank. But plenty of my fellow leftists are still willing to try, on the grounds that anyone who thinks there might be any problem with [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] policies must necessarily be a slack-jawed MAGA troll.”
While slavish loyalty to woke, anti-racist tropes might appear axiomatic among people who identify as the author does, the content of his message reveals a crack in the monolithic nature of agenda-driven education; to even a committed leftist, things have gone too far.
Yang shared his vetting process as a preface to the piece, stating he had personally spoken to the anonymous author, “a public school teacher in a blue city in a blue state,” adding he had “examined correspondence from his colleagues and supervisors that left no doubt that his personal account is authentic. He is indeed the sort of committed left-wing partisan who uses terms like ‘systems of oppression’ un-ironically and who regards ‘anti-woke’ polemicists as cynical hacks and grifters.”
Yet, the teacher writes disparagingly of his experience in a summer school program for low-achieving students between the ages of 6 and 12. The teacher learned that almost no one attends the class.
“Nine of the eleven students in my grade level were absent the first day. The next day, it was ten. By the end of the week, I had one student consistently attending and a few who had been officially withdrawn by their parents – but there were still eight children on my roster who were technically enrolled while having never once shown up.”
The teacher turned to the student waiting list to fill the empty seats, only to be told “the district is not allowed to remove any student from the program on the basis of non-attendance.”
As part of its “equity and racial justice overhaul,” the school district has heartily embraced the idea that requiring attendance is “victimizing toward students of color.” Factoring attendance into a student’s grades also is expressly forbidden for the same reason.
Worse still, the teacher was ordered not to request parents of non-attending students to formally disenroll their child to make room for others, as this could “make them feel disrespected” and “communicate to them that their children are not welcome.”
The result is a teacher committed to advancing the education of his students, but faced with the specter of teaching to an empty classroom while many deserving students on the wait list, who need his help, are given a bureaucratic cold shoulder.
The very programs designed to help the disadvantaged were being denied to them by the very policies intended to assist the disadvantaged.
The teacher went on to detail other examples of woke-inspired inanities along with the puzzled reactions of his friends and peers when he told them of these unbelievable circumstances – with many either refusing to believe the stories or accusing him of falling victim to “anti-woke” propagandists.
The anonymous teacher is experiencing a significant level of cognitive dissonance – in which firmly held contradictory beliefs clash with one another, leading to great discomfort and even clinical distress among those afflicted.
In this instance the teacher discloses the difficulty of reconciling what he believes to be true – his leftist political mindset – and what he sees to be true, the utter failure of his beliefs put in action.
The inability of his close friends and colleagues to commiserate with his situation leaves him without a support system among his ideological peers, as he learns his experiences align far more tightly with those he and his friends would describe as “slack-jawed MAGA trolls.”
While such epiphanies are necessary for individuals to discover the error of their ways, the journey across the yawning chasm between enlightenment and acceptance is fraught with dangers, both personal and professional.
Aside from the mental health toll of unresolved cognitive dissonance, many who question the status quo do so at the risk of their career.
In another instance, the teacher details the stilted thinking of his colleagues regarding achievement. He tells of a meeting where another teacher unblinkingly states, “Trying to register more students of color for AP classes is inherently racist, and putting greater value on AP classes at all is an expression of white supremacy.”
Rather than push back against this insupportable argument, he notes the other teachers simply nodded in agreement or said nothing at all.
The anonymous teacher has a long road ahead of him as he negotiates the connection between his ideological beliefs and the inevitable results stemming from those beliefs. While he does not appear to have fully made that connection yet, his recognition of the lunacy he sees in public education is a vital prerequisite to true understanding.
His essay is of immense value to those on both sides of the ideological divide for its stark exposure of the dangers inherent in blinkered thinking.
Perhaps seeing the negative impact of these leftist social constructs on the very public-school students they are trying to help will bring others to their senses as well.