"Beyond 'Taco Night': Barack Obama And The Frightening Future of "Critical Multicultural Education"

A Barack Obama presidency now seems inevitable. So the hard-left policies of his Administration on education compel urgent consideration.

Given Obama's emphasis on greater funding for education, he could leave a real mark—and further entrench an increasingly radical faction of cultural Marxists within America's learning establishment.

Did you ever wonder where those bomb-wielding militants from the Weather Underground ended up? Many, like William Ayers, traded their militancy for careers as "educators."

Other high-profile leaders of the Weather Underground and its precursor Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Bernardine Dohrn, [Email] Michael Klonsky, Mark Rudd, and Cathy Wilkerson, are now educrat academics.

Over the past several decades, left-wing radicals—Saul Alinsky's "community organizers" —carved out a unique niche in education in their Gramscian "long march through the institutions."

They work day-in and day-out to transform America into an ethnically and culturally balkanized and borderless wreck.

In speeches, debates, and on his campaign's website, Obama emphasizes both education's significance and his desire to strengthen civil rights—the twin social incubators of radical egalitarian and multicultural social policies.

As Obama noted in a speech to La Raza's 2007 conference:

"It doesn't matter if the injustice involves a brown man who's badgered into proving his citizenship again and again or a black man who's pulled over because the car he's driving is too nice—it's injustice either way and we all have a role in ending it."

For years, conservatives expressed their opposition to multicultural education. But they've achieved nothing.

Instead conservatives, who once called for the dismantling of the federal Department of Education, have capitulated to the permanent government's steady leftward drift.

Despite constant public vigilance, taxpayers are unaware of a growing menace to their local public schools: the pervasive reach of radical multicultural educators.

The ongoing downward slide of our public educational system corresponds with the aggressive agenda of the multicultural educators.

Their underlying objective is to subvert public education with "a philosophy of inclusion" that eclipses the traditional emphasis on knowledge, competition, ability, talent, excellence, and performance standards with a core concentration on "cultural pluralism," ethnocentric-centered "understanding," "alternative family" structures, and "liberating" the curriculum through "storytelling."

The multiculturalism juggernaut's core elite— the fanatical avant-garde of multicultural ideologues—is represented in the movement's primary organization: the National Association of Multicultural Education.

At taxpayer expense, numerous "progressive educators" and "radical activists" attend NAME's annual conferences.

The 17th Annual NAME conference [Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, 2007] was held in Baltimore, Maryland,, to overflow capacity.

Several speakers and attendees lauded the "Jena Six", a reference to six black youths facing second-degree attempted murder charges in Jena, Louisiana. "Racial tensions" at Jena's high school were the focus of considerable media coverage in 2007. The Jena incidents have since become a rallying slogan for left-wing activists.

Workshop panelists and keynote speakers openly described their mission as multicultural activists as "subversive". They advocated "activist" strategies for teachers, administrators, university professors, and researchers that advance the goals and agenda of multicultural education "beyond Taco night"—a quote from a pre-conference workshop in which multiculturalists expressed concern that their liberal colleagues can't get beyond the "Taco Night" stage of recognizing diversity.

The multiculturalists aim to create a permanent resistance to conventional educational teaching methods and curriculum. They seek to undermine the status quo in the classroom by aggressively promoting "consciousness" and "social justice" among a cadre of committed teacher-activists in our public schools and colleges.

"Critical Multiculturalism" advocates, such as Paul Gorski [Email him], a co-founder of EdChange.org and the incoming president of NAME, offer a more radicalized strain of multicultural education that thoroughly subverts liberal teaching methods and goals.(As a subfield of "education," "critical multiculturalism" is a robust subculture dominated by counter-culture advocates.)

During a pre-conference workshop titled Beyond Celebrating Diversity: Teaching Teachers How to be Critical Multicultural Educators, Gorski asserted

"One problem with teacher education is pragmatism."

The workshop's purpose was to grapple with the problem of well-meaning educators who lack a fully developed "consciousness" for "achieving social justice."

Objective teaching methods in history, mathematics,, science, and the humanities are seen as an obstacle to implementing the agenda for more diverse and inclusive community schools.

Gorski emphasized the importance of addressing the testing gap—test score disparities between racially diverse student populations—as an outcome of the educational "system."

According to orski, "privilege" and "systemic oppression" create educational disparities in testing-based outcomes. Differences in student performances are attributed to "oppression" and the "hegemonic pedagogy" of the educational establishment. Teachers should continue to shift the emphasis to "what is wrong with the system" issues, implying that equity and social injustices trigger testing disparities.

Said Gorski: "You don't make progress through objectivity."

Gorski views contemporary American culture as a "white/male supremacy" hegemony—one that reinforces the "normalcy of Christianity" and creates an "invisible culture."

Aspects of this include:

  • Individualism
  • Traditional family
  • Capitalism
  • Competition that reinforces market-place solutions

Keynote speaker Cornel Pewewardy, [Email] assistant professor of education, University of Kansas, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in "Multicultural Education" and "Culture and Education of Indigenous Peoples", emphasized the efforts of multiculturalists to correct the record on Columbus—that he was lost on his voyage and stumbled onto the New World —a region with a thriving culture.

Pewewardy's address, "Multicultural Education Since 1492: An Indigenous Perspective," included a reference to Thanksgiving…which he called "Thankstaking."

According to Pewewardy, Thanksgiving and the official history of the early colonial settlements perpetuate falsehoods about North American Indian culture.

Such myths, he claimed, oppress and deny the cultural contributions of "indigenous peoples" to America's cultural formation.

An entire sub-field of Multicultural Education is devoted to the oppression of so-called "indigenous peoples"—formerly known as Indians oor Native Americans.

Pewewardy asked the audience: "How do you tell your children and grand children that your people were hunted and killed?" That's his version of the European colonial settlers' encounter with American Indians.

Pewewardy cited radical author Howard inn—described by the Revolutionary Worker, a Maoist publication, as "one of America's foremost radical scholars"as an authority on the "massacres" of Indian Americans.

In his interview with the Revolutionary Worker,, Zinn explained his interest in history:

"I got into history not to be a historian, not to be a scholar, not to be an academic, not to write scholarly articles for scholarly journals, not to go to academic conferences to deliver papers to bored fellow historians. I got into history because I was already an activist at the age of 18…. I wanted my writing of history and my teaching of history to be a part of social struggle. I wanted to be a part of history and not just a recorder and teacher of history."[Howard Zinn: "History as a Political Act'': 100 Years of U.S. Empire 1898-1998 and Radical Hopes for the Future Revolutionary Worker #987, December 20, 1998]

Pewewardy also reviewed the efforts of activist educators like himself  to eliminate Indian mascots and ban the names of athletic school teams, and professional football franchises, such as "Redskins" and "Chiefs," via NAME's initiative to pressure the NCAA.

The theme that emerged from the various speakers, participants, presenters, and attendees: a commitment to actively transform American society via the educational system to reflect a socialistic utopian community,, rather than simply putting forth an alternative multicultural curriculum to counter conventional teaching.

These core activists seek the radical transformation of American society—to a Marxist, classless, multiracial, multicultural, multilingual, borderless social order..

One NAME workshop that illustrated this social activist agenda: "Undoing Whiteness in the Classroom: Critical Educultural Approaches for Social Justice Activism."

The panelists stressed the need to have students recognize unconscious racism or interrupt unsuspected racist thinking during classroom exercises.

One panelist noted that the Academy Award-winning movie Crash offers a number of valuable lessons for deconstructing racial stereotype types, even though four or five examples of "institutional racism" exist in the film.

Friday's keynote address by two leading Multicultural academics, Sonia Nieto [Email her](University of Massachusetts) and Patty Bode (Tufts University) [Email her] explained their revisions to the 5th edition of their Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education which is the standard textbook in the field of multicultural education.

Bode noted that even after "30 years of multicultural education there is still a disconnect between theory and practice." Bode stressed that "teachers are not the villains" and that a "mind-numbing pedagogy" is rampant in public education.

Bode noted that multicultural education is

Describing lingering racism as "smog in the air," Bode identified four components of achieving "social justice" in education:

  • Challenge, confront, and disrupt misconceptions, untruths and stereotypes
  • Provide resources
  • Draw on students' resources, their talents and strengths
  • Create learning environment for social change, activism

One issue Bode mentioned was the practice of "unstandardizing standards" which utilized "detracking math curriculum" and the experience of Hurricane Katrina provided for an opportunity for change.

A PowerPoint presentation explained a new approach to first graders that challenged the traditional concept of the family.

"What is a family" showed first graders who, in artwork, emphasized that there are "all kinds of families." One first grader drew a picture of one family having two fathers.

This year's NAME conference, as in years past, featured a number of vendors: book publishers, such as Routledge, Teachers College Press (Columbia University) and Peter Lang; boutique clothing booths (representing African and South American clothing fashions); and radical-socialist-anarchistic merchandise and literature.

Bumper stickers with slogans, "Fascism is capitalism in decay," "Well-behaved women seldom make history," as well as Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Karl Marx, and Emma Goldman posters, buttons, shirts, and bumper stickers were on sale.

Francisco Rios, [Email him] professor of education studies at the University of Wyoming, and newly appointed director of the Social Justice Research Center at the University of Wyoming, is the associate editor of Multicultural Perspectives, NAME's official in-house periodical.

Rios recently explained, in a University of Wyoming press release, that the Social Justice Research Center at the University of Wyoming is:

"established to encourage and nurture scholarly research in topics related to social justice. …The center's long-range goals include developing meaningful solutions to identified problems; serving as a catalyst for grant funding; developing an outreach program to create and present research; and strengthening existing UW academic programs that have a social justice focus, such as Women's Studies, African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicano Studies and other programs."

Rios delivered Saturday's Keynote Speech: "La Casa De Esperanza: The House that Multicultural Education Built."

The concept of La Casa Esperanza, Rios explained, is a metaphor to describe "issues, wholeness and connectedness, challenges, which show that we [multicultural activists] live in the same ghetto, city, barrio, and village."

Rios urged the passage of the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal immigrant children attending K-12 schools to be eligible for permanent residency if they were either attending college or serving in the Armed Forces.

For his various multicultural efforts, Rios has secured a $1 million grant from the Wyoming legislature for three diversity projects.

The NAME conference underscored the importance that multicultural education advocates place in getting the federal government to subsidize multicultural projects.

An Obama Administration, pledging to increase the nearly $70 billion in federal education funding by an additional $18 billion, will certainly underwrite this Treason Lobby approach to education.

There is one simple way to start immobilizing the Marxist momentum of multicultural education: dismantle the federal Department of Education—and push to minimize federal support for this ideologically contaminated area.

Just another missed opportunity in the Great Bush Bust.

Cooper Sterling [email him]  is a freelance writer in the Washington, DC area.