The National Education Association adopted a strategy to impose critical race theory in 14,000 school districts in all 50 states. The association’s decision to promote critical race theory is unsurprising considering it claims America suffers from systemic racism.

Public schools, including schools in Loudoun County, Virginia, have added racial diversity books to their classroom libraries. Dennis Prager said schools like these indoctrinate children with “race-centered hatred of whites, of America, and of America’s values.”

When we entered first grade about 15 years ago, critical race theory was not infiltrating K-12 institutions the way it is today. Nonetheless, both of our parents were still concerned about schools pushing anti-American rhetoric and social justice.

They wanted us to love America, not despise it. They wanted us to appreciate America’s founding and recognize the values that make the United States exceptional.

Exploring school choice options was a sure path toward ensuring that our parents’ desires would become a reality. As a result, we never attended a typical brick-and-mortar public school. Hannah Bowser enrolled in an online charter school, and Julea Pehl was homeschooled before becoming a charter school student.

Our unconventional, yet intentional, educational styles fostered an understanding and appreciation for America’s founding. We read about the valor of the American revolutionaries and how their virtues—courage and fortitude—enabled the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

The Founding Fathers’ intricate and prudent formation of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 bolstered our appreciation for conservative principles and America.

A study by The Heritage Foundation says, “Students must learn the truth about America’s heritage—its imperfections as well as its remarkable strengths.” (The Daily Signal is the news and commentary platform of The Heritage Foundation).

Our experiences reflect Heritage’s vision for America’s education system—one that esteems the American founding for its strengths rather than dismissing it for its imperfections.

For example, Hannah’s mother, her primary teacher, condemned slavery. She taught Hannah the importance of understanding America’s plight from slavery to freedom. Despite slavery’s existence after the ratification of the Constitution, the Founders’ personal correspondence indicate abolishing slavery was always the objective.

In a letter to Robert J. Evans in 1819, John Adams wrote, “[E]very measure of prudence … ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States.”

The Founders demonstrated prudence in their decision to prioritize the union’s formation and success at the Constitutional Convention. This planted the foundation to one day end slavery in America.

All nations—even those founded on the principles of equality and liberty—fall short of perfectionism. A nation’s defining characteristics should be how it rebounds from its faults.

We had the opportunity to learn from our country’s past and recognize that the abolition of slavery, not its existence, inspires hope.

Julea’s liberal arts education included a detailed discussion of the founding. She read extensively about its roots in Western tradition. She recognizes the influences of Athens, Jerusalem, Rome, and Britain on America’s founding through the works of Aristotle, Cicero, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, and the books of the Bible.

These authors, as well as other Western thinkers, helped form Julea’s understanding of the principles of natural law, equality, popular sovereignty, separation of powers, limited government, and the right of revolution. The Founders united these principles into one government for the protection of its citizens’ natural rights.

Additionally, both of us learned about ideologies that repudiate the founding principles, including Marxism. “The Communist Manifesto” asserts that all human relationships are struggles between the oppressed and oppressor. This claim rejects America’s premise that “all men are created equal.”

Marxism creates divisions and perpetuates a narrative of winners and losers. It disregards the present American story, which is the opportunity to persevere and achieve one’s dreams, undeterred by class or race.

In 1937, Marxist academics at Germany’s Frankfurt School created critical theory, which is an offshoot of this communist ideology.

Critical theory rejects universal truth and views history as a series of opposing narratives. It criticizes and condemns all that is traditional to produce a “counternarrative.”

Critical race theory’s counternarrative makes race the lens through which people view society. Although its proponents say it fosters inclusivity, critical race theory’s racial discrimination creates divisions by separating people into groups defined by immutable characteristics. It’s gaining traction in our nation’s schools and threatens America’s founding principles that enable people to live the American dream.

Our experiences demonstrate that school choice is a valuable and often successful tool for families desiring greater educational control. For us, it fostered an attitude of welcome rather than rejection toward American ideals.

But school choice alone is not enough to stop the spread of critical race theory. A cultural shift away from Marxist thought and toward America’s founding principles is required.

With the National Education Association pushing for a national implementation of critical race theory into public schools, the time to act is now.

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