Opinion: Social justice has no place in education

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Commentary by Tzipporah Gold

On June 3, the superintendent of Noblesville Schools sent out an email to parents entitled “Discussing Racial Injustice with Our Children.” A response and counter-narrative is offered below.

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Regarding your email from June 3, “Discussing Racial Injustice with Our Children,” I read all of the links provided. They were frighteningly eye-opening. Are you aware that the link for the top children’s books on diversity from 2018 lists a book depicting a stripper? Is Noblesville seriously advocating books like this for elementary-aged children? I am very concerned about the push for social justice and diversity in Noblesville Schools. The diversity statement sounds nice, but how can the school claim to actively foster an environment where all students and staff are supported, respected and celebrated when the very groups listed propose worldviews that are diametrically opposed to each other?

I read nearly every article and watched every video listed in each link provided. Each one was, without exception, intellectually lazy. The articles provided only one side of every issue and it’s no surprise what side that was. No context was given for the outrageous claims made (examples are listed below), rendering a full, unbiased discussion absolutely impossible. Is this the kind of intellectual sloppiness that is to mark Noblesville students? If students are encouraged how to think rather than what to think, all sides need representation.

By far, the most biased articles were linked under your heading “Racism and Police Violence.” The title itself reeks of bias. If the resources listed here (tolerance.org) are the educational tools Noblesville schools use, there is no hiding the fact that public education is nothing more than social engineering. After reading articles with titles like “Why talk about Whiteness”, “What is White Privilege, Really?” and “Bringing Black Lives Matter into the Classroom,” there is no other conclusion to draw.

One of the purposes of education is to develop men and women who are responsible participants in a free, Western society. These articles claim that personal responsibility is a burden too great to bear. It is easier to demand others, like the police, burden themselves further in order for youths to throw off responsibility entirely. Are these the types of students Noblesville Schools wants to have a hand in creating?

Things like systemic racism, implicit bias and lack of cultural competency are what people like to blame instead of themselves. They don’t want to talk about real issues like children who have no respect for authority or children who don’t suffer the consequences of their actions because those problems are actually things that can be changed. In fact, addressing these two issues is the only thing that will affect change on any sort of level. This is what the schools should be teaching, instead of grievance-finding and authority-blaming. The natural outcomes of this are obvious and dangerous.

These articles do not encourage students how to think; they encourage students to disrespect and mistrust authority. Once respect is gone, teaching becomes useless, because students aren’t going to believe what teachers say anyway. And believe me, they already don’t. They trust their friends and YouTube to tell them what is reality. I’ve heard it many times as a school bus driver and unless the schools take control and change things quickly, they are going to lose these students more than they already have.

If these types of articles support the “scholarship” in Noblesville Schools, you are failing in your mission to create students who can solve 21st-century problems. Most of the authors cited can’t even define the problem. They can spout off social justice talking points, but demonstrate no ability to examine beyond the surface. And interestingly enough, the solutions offered always involve dismantling some institution or demanding other groups be educated instead of themselves.

Changing curriculum to meet needs is a dangerous precedent, especially when those needs have nothing to do with education and more to do with social justice. Social justice is defined as “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society.” Is this now the purpose of education? When did education go from cultivating virtue and wisdom to emphasizing social justice? And how are the schools prepared to determine which students’ needs should be met? If it’s going to be based on oppression, are the schools going to teach about Christians being murdered overseas and change the curriculum entirely?

If the emphasis continues to be on social justice, no student’s needs will be met. If the goal is cultivating wisdom and virtue, every student can be served. The school’s only job is to teach the truths of history, defend reality and encourage personal responsibility. If children were taught this in schools, instead of what they can find on social media, they would truly become the antidote to insanity and the creators of solutions.

These articles and social justice movements in general encourage the dismantling of the very thing that was created to allow for the advancement of all people, regardless of station at birth, and that is public education. If the Noblesville School corporation is willing to pursue diversity above all else, then it will be well on its way to invalidating its purpose. Social justice does not advance anyone. Courageously returning to a pursuit of wisdom absolutely will. If Noblesville schools want to teach oppression, mobs of students will graduate who cannot recognize it or do anything about it.

Teaching in the public schools needs to be done without overtly favoring one side. Social justice is not a dispassionate, unprejudiced subject. It is a movement which attempts to create an absolute truth. The first step in this kind of manufactured ‘truth’ creation is determining what groups and ways of thinking are right and wrong. How are Noblesville Schools prepared to give a hearing to groups who do not believe the same thing?  In the article entitled “Why Talk about Whiteness,” the author states the following:

“We (meaning Americans) view ourselves as just people, but that this country was founded on racist white supremacist principles is undeniable. I think people feel implicated because there’s a cognitive dissonance built into how Americans view themselves.”

I am appalled Noblesville Schools would send this to parents. Racist, white supremacist principles? This country was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and all the horrors of our history do not change that fact. How can you be surprised at the riots breaking out everywhere when this is what students are taught?

The concept of justice without a creator is meaningless. Justice is only possible with objective truth and that has been removed from the public schools. Since true justice is not possible with public education, all that remains is social justice, with its emphasis on equity of resources rather than equity of humanity. Every person in this country is equal in the eyes of the law. Every person in this country is equal in terms of rights and responsibilities. And in this country, everyone has access to the same possibilities. Equity does not come from taking resources from people who have much and giving it to people who have little. Equity comes from teaching children they are valuable beings created in the image of God who have the freedom to achieve anything. Teaching students their lack comes from some inherently racist or oppressive system or group creates victims, not adults who will responsibly shepherd the freedom they are privileged to have in Western society.

Merriam Webster defines racism as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. The definition provided in the article entitled, “What is White Privilege, Really?” is slightly different. Racism is now “individual and group level processes and structures that are implicated in the reproduction of racial inequality.” I can see why Merriam Webster’s definition was replaced. Using Merriam Webster’s definition, the vast majority of people aren’t racist and no institution in this country is. Under the new definition, everything is racist. This is the point and ultimate goal of social justice. If every person and system is fundamentally or systemically racist, dismantling and destroying it is the only moral option, we are told. If schools don’t change what they teach, how they teach and what group they pander to, student failure ultimately is the school’s fault.

If Noblesville Schools wants to help educate a generation of people who change the culture, they need to stop social justice right now.  Teach wisdom, encourage virtue and demand personal responsibility. Virtue and personal responsibility are anathema to social justice, which only fetters people who are free and blinds them all to reality.

Tzipporah Gold is a Noblesville Schools bus driver and a parent. She is a commissioned Colson fellow.


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