Some thoughts on a reader email that I just received (apropos this interview with a Black school board candidate theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…), which begins: Image
First, if there's a viewpoint that black as well as white people hold, isn't "white fragility" a very strange name to give it?
Second, if you're a black kid with rich, highly educated parents, attending school in a wealthy suburban district, there is, in fact, no system that forecloses your ability to be a lawyer, let alone *the same system* as enslaved people faced.
I always want to steelman viewpoints, and there are sophisticated definitions of *white privilege* and even*whiteness* that I could sign on to in substance, *but the steelman versions are not what's filtering down to K through 12 education*

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More from @conor64

Aug 2
I'm in favor of norms against making fun of people for a disability or mental illness. But IMHO treating lots of common words as if they're actually signs of disrespect, when users aren't at all using them disrespectfully, will just make more people feel disrespected.
That's because most of these efforts to control language will not succeed, especially as they proliferate so much that no one can keep track of them all even if they wanted to do so, which many people don't.
I say this as someone who tries to use language with sensitivity and deference to reasonable requests, but even as someone who watches these things closely, I'm surprised all the time at some dustup or other about a word that I didn't even know bothered anyone.
Read 4 tweets
Jul 22
I've got a hypothetical to test your intuitions about free expression. It takes place in a made up town of 100,000 people in Idaho, a long drive from anywhere. There is one privately owned theater in town, and for the last few decades it has never turned down a booking.
As it happens, the spotlight operator and the two guys who know how to work the moving parts on the stage are populist right types. And after reading about Dave Chappelle and the theater workers they decide to start using their influence in accordance with their politics.
They believe BLM protests are associated with higher murder rates, so they announce that they will not run the lighting or curtain for a talk with 3 prominent activists that was scheduled. And no 1619 Project anything, they say preemptively.
Read 5 tweets
Jul 20
In today's *Up for Debate* I highlight a poll of likely voters in battleground states who are asked about education politics.

theatlantic.com/newsletters/ar…
Listening to Chris Rufo and the teachers union officials who loathe him, one would think that "Critical Race Theory" (or panicked misrepresentation of it) is a huge factor in education politics right now. But the data shows something else:
60 percent of respondents say they are dissatisfied with the way race is taught in public schools. But when you ask that 60 percent why they are dissatisfied, here's what they say: Image
Read 7 tweets
May 12
Today I've reached the anti-bullying phase of an early childhood education curriculum and I'm struck by a choice that it makes and curious about how that came to be.

Consider two possible approaches to anti-bullying:
1. X is different and that's wonderful! Celebrate how unique they are! Speak up if anyone bullies them!

2. X is a valuable person with feelings just like you and me! That doesn't change just because they play/look/dress different! Speak up if anyone bullies them!
Put another way, one approach emphasizes difference while the other emphasizes sameness. Diversity-loving people--probably most of you reading this tweet--tend to gravitate toward approach 1 because they *like* difference and want to teach kids to like it too. Maybe that's best.
Read 5 tweets
May 11
Working through this curriculum, I see its authors struggling to work through a tension that I'm about to articulate, and I wonder how different school districts are handling it and what teachers and parents believe to be the best approaches they've found.
The tension is, basically, wanting to teach kids to reject gender stereotypes--teaching them, e.g., there are no boys toys and girls toys, and you can be a girl and wear pants or a boy and where dresses--and also teaching them that e.g. clothes are a way we express our gender.
As a matter of observation, setting aside any value judgments, it seems to me that both of these things are true. For example, anyone can wear any clothes, and also, some people where certain kinds of clothes to express their gender identity.
Read 8 tweets
May 2
If I tried my hardest to defend Tucker Carlson's Fox News show, I could not mount an intellectually honest defense, because it so frequently broadcasts content that is indefensible. And whatever you think of the New York Times doesn't make that any less true.
This is a man who broadcasts sweeping pejorative generalizations about ethnic minority groups at the drop of a hat. In what world do any of you think the deliberately sensationalistic hearsay broadcast at beginning of this segment is responsible?
In the abstract, when I say, "How do you feel about the kind of person who spreads hysteria about refugees?" something negative probably comes to mind. Well, is that clip not spreading hysteria about refugees? It's awful.
Read 8 tweets

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