What is “social justice” curriculum?

According to the National Council for the Social Studies National Standards for the Preparation of Social Studies Teachers, social justice curriculum “involves implementing curriculum and instruction that ‘actively seeks to recognize the diversity of the world and the complexities associated with issues of racism, sexism, class oppression, and other forms of inequality.'” Defining “social justice” really comes down to one’s personal and political construct of society, and how one defines justice. It also comes down to how socialists can sneak their agenda into classrooms, and how the divisive radical left can do the same. 

From their Facebook page, NCSS Educators for Social Justice Community, they promote many articles that are blatantly racist and destructive to a positive classroom environment. Among these articles is one that provides words they believe should be used to help teachers and students define the vocabulary associated with “social justice” and “anti-bias” curriculum. In an article from Medium (a common source re-shared on this Facebook page), titled 16 Words and Definitions to Kickstart Your Anti-Racism Journey, author Renee Cherez recommends learning the following terms to effectively implement anti-bias curriculum: white privilege, white supremacy, institutional racism, white fragility, structural racism, white exceptionalism, anti-racist, reparations, emotional labour, allyship, optical allyship, prejudice, power, oppression, equality, and equity.   

Beginning with one of the most problematic, but not new, issues with this curriculum is how Cherez (and many other leading educational organizations) defines equality and equity. 

“Equality means sameness. The goal of racial equality is for everyone to be treated the same, but that is not the focus of racial justice. The focus of racial justice is equity.”

“Equity is fairness and justice. For success to occur, everyone must be able to begin at the same point and be given the same resources.”

(Again, keep in mind that this resource was promoted by NCSS Educators for Social Justice Community). 

This leads us to Karl Marx and the popular teacher magazine, Education Week, and their definition of “social justice” curriculum. In their article, What is Social Justice Anyway?, author Crystal Belle argues that capitalism is a system of injustice, and Karl Marx’s social reproduction theory “illustrate[s] the ways that social inequality is passed on from one generation to the next.” Social justice curriculum is only another way the radical left has tried to undermine capitalism in favor of socialism/communism; this has always been a problem, even without a formally named “social justice” curriculum. The fact that they are turning to Karl Marx as a philosopher of this curriculum is, at this point, expected, but still scary. Belle even repeats one of the radical left’s talking points that, “education is a political act.” Eventually, Belle gets into the crux of “social justice” curriculum which is to teach like a racist. For teachers reading this article, Belle wrongly suggests stereotyping your students and letting them know that you are prejudiced. [Education101: Do not do this. Instead, welcome all students without judging them and pre-determining their struggles based on the color of their skin.]

Why is “social justice” curriculum a problem and how is it being implemented?

The problem with “social justice” curriculum is in the manipulation of language and word usage to make it sound like something positive. For anyone to be against “social justice” and the curriculum used to teach it will likely get them accused of bigotry. However, the way leading educational organizations have interpreted “social justice” curriculum, and their suggestions for implementing it, are the exact opposite of what teachers should be doing to ensure a positive classroom environment, and teachers should reasonably be against it. 

According to the intolerant Teaching Tolerance, the four anchor standards and domains of “social justice” curriculum are: identity, diversity, justice, and action. Educators have already been respectfully teaching these standards. Through many excellent educational books and programs, students learn how to respect one another, be inclusive, embrace differences in positive ways, and make the right decisions. Those advocating for “social justice” curriculum claim to have started this type of education as something new, and in some cases, some schools may be embracing these lessons more than they have in the past, but the only new, surprising, and severely troubling aspect of “social justice” curriculum is the fact that they are teaching all of these familiar lessons, but with highly offensive racial slurs and stereotyping. 

For example, in one of the intolerant Teaching Tolerance’s lesson plans on social justice, they suggest teachers use a highly offensive text which they deem appropriate for grades 3-8. In the text, students will read lines including, “Somebody said I had hair so nappy I needed a rake to comb it.” And, “‘Maleeka, Maleeka, we sure want to keep her but she so black, we just can’t see her.'” The intention of this lesson is to show how not to treat someone wrongfully, but this could have been done without including offensive language and stereotyping. There are many options for texts that teach inclusiveness, and this text should not be one of them. Anyone who has worked in a classroom of students of this age knows that they will pick up on all vocabulary used in the classroom, even if it is negative and used only to make a point, never meant to be repeated. There are issues with students still repeating what they hear in the classroom, even though they may be warned not to do so. Teachers, especially those of social studies who teach many lessons regarding hard history, often will repeatedly stress the importance of not using certain words or making certain accusations. However, there will still be students who find it funny and do not take the lesson seriously. 

In another example, the intolerant Teaching Tolerance suggests using a poem titled, “What If There Were No Black People” by Sean Mauricette. The poem is meant to highlight the many accomplishments of black people, but there are many other ways to do this than to ask students to imagine life without black people. One of the questions following the reading of the poem in the lesson is, “Build upon Mauricette’s poem by adding an additional stanza that begins with ‘If there were no black people.'” Again, there will be students who do not learn what they need to from this lesson, and will take this activity in the wrong direction. 

Teachers must always ensure a safe and comfortable learning environment. This has been part of Education101, pretty much forever, and it will never cease to be important to practice respect, empathy, and all of the “golden rules” of the classroom. Offensive language must not be taught to students; even in scenarios such as these, the lesson you intend may not always be the lesson learned. Bullies will be in the classroom, and it is not uncommon for a negative term learned in the classroom to come up in the lunch room or the playground. These situations are usually handled by professional staff if a student speaks out about the incident or a teacher witnesses it. Still, the teacher should refrain from teaching students racial slurs and stereotypes in the general education classroom. Instances in which students need to learn these are handled by professional staff in the appropriate setting. 

By ultimately asking teachers to teach like a racist, social justice curriculum is reversing the progress made by the Civil Rights Movement and leaders who have been combatting problems with bullying for decades. Teaching diversity, justice, empathy, responsibility, and above all, respect, has been and always will be essential to every lesson students learn. Now, these terms are being used as a shield to hide the true intent of social justice curriculum which is to promote socialism and create divides between children of all ages. 

To learn more about this destructive curriculum and other educational organizations who have embraced it, read the following articles and more at https://lockesociety.org/home/news/