Mainstream media and the progressive political establishment would like you to believe that the battle against critical race theory (CRT) is a manufactured crisis launched by the reactionary right. Nonetheless, the sheer reality of parents, concerned citizens and other unlikely activists coming together to expose and challenge practical applications of CRT in America’s schools tells a very different story.
My new book “The Great Parent Revolt: How Parents and Grassroots Leaders Are Fighting Critical Race Theory in America’s Schools,” co-written with Lance Izumi and McKenzie Richards, documents the journeys of 15 unique individuals who come from different racial, ethnic and income backgrounds, and hold divergent political views. In spite of their differences, they share the same aspiration to confront politicized education and ideological capture threatening American children.
Many of them are parents who had never engaged in politics prior to discovering the entrenched forces of far-left indoctrination in their children’s classrooms. Nicole Solas, a Rhode Island mom, wanted to learn more about her young child’s kindergarten curriculum. She was then sued by the teacher’s union for filing public record requests regarding the equity and anti-racism curriculum in her local school district.
Kelly Schenkoske, a California mother of two, received threats after openly criticizing a CRT-centered ethnic studies curriculum at local school board meetings. Gabs Clark, a widowed low-income African-American mom living in Las Vegas at the time, was flabbergasted to find that her mixed-race son was given a failing grade for refusing to participate in a class assignment designed to label individuals as oppressors versus victims based on race.
These moms did not stay silent. They fought back through advocacy and activism, by suing the schools for race-based treatment, demanding academic transparency, and rallying other moms to get involved. They believe that the fundamental right to direct a child’s upbringing resides with the parent. Lia Rensin, a California mom whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, is fighting against critical ethnic studies, a model of teaching cultures and ethnicities through the lens of CRT. Like other moms, Rensin thinks schools “are not supposed to be indoctrinating my kids.”
Our book also profiles immigrants who have found their calling in defending equal treatment. Growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, Xi Van Fleet self-identifies as an American by choice who is dedicated to informing her fellow Americans on harms of arbitrary racial divisions and thought conformity through her own lived experience in Communist China. “You are now teaching, training our children to be social justice warriors and to loathe our country and our history,” she warned at a school board meeting in Virginia.
Asra Nomani, an Indian-born American whose father marched for India’s independence alongside Mahatma Gandhi, is now a community leader mobilizing parents and community members in Northern Virginia to push back against equity-focused education policies that attack merit and equality. Recently, Nomani helped expose a story of an elite Northern Virginia high school withholding recognitions of the National Merit Scholarship Program because the recipients (including her son) didn’t contribute to racial diversity.
Elana Fishbein, a Jewish American who was raised in Israel in a Sephardic family, founded No Left Turn in Education, the first national organization empowering parents to speak out against radical curriculum changes. Elina Kaplan, another Jewish American who immigrated to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union, launched a bipartisan grassroots movement in California to advocate for a constructive, apolitical model of ethnic studies.
The diverse stories narrated in our book also include those of native-born Americans. Emily Ortiz-Wichmann, whose mother was an immigrant from Mexico with indigenous roots, served as a former school board member in Oceanside, California. After being on the school board for nearly two decades, she now works to organize local citizens to analyze radical elements of new school curriculums and engage at the school district level. Mari Barke, a trustee at the Orange County Board of Education in California, organized two expert forums on CRT to educate her community about the harms of racialized education.
The California Dream isn’t dead yet — but it’s dying. Here’s how to turn that around.
Congressional ethics take a huge hit
Where does Biden stand in light of the classified documents controversy?
Stove banners offer gaseous excuses for their panic
Federal agents shouldn’t be manipulating social media companies to censor disfavored speech
A California student, who is identified in our book by his pseudo name “Joshua,” resists CRT-based, divisive teaching because he believes every student is entitled to equal treatment regardless of race. Ryan Girdusky, a college drop-out from Queens, New York, started a national organization “1776 Project” to campaign for anti-CRT school board candidates. Joe Nalven, a cultural anthropologist and a long-term registered Democrat based in San Diego, California, is opposing CRT in his local schools by speaking up for viewpoint diversity.
Together, these ordinary Americans have undertaken the extraordinary mission of blunting and defeating CRT in schools. More importantly, these diverse voices agree on the fundamental values of America — equality, merit, free speech and citizenship. They are true American heroes who inspire other Americans to not only protect our youth, but to save America itself. Their endeavors, detailed in our new book, put the progressives’ favorite slogan to the test: America’s diversity is our national strength.
Wenyuan Wu is executive director of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation. She is the co-author of “The Great Parent Revolt: How Parents and Grassroots Leaders Are Fighting Critical Race Theory in America’s Schools.”