Cornell University law Professor William Jacobson’s recent speech to lawmakers attending an American Legislative Exchange Council meeting focused on how they can “save the nation” by fighting critical race theory curriculum.
“I know you probably thought you were coming to a meeting to talk about educational policy, not how you’re going to save the nation. But I want to talk about how you can save the nation,” said Jacobson, whose Legal Insurrection Foundation runs CriticalRace.org.
The five key takeaways are:
This is a marathon, not a sprint: This did not just happen in 2020 and 2021. … I view it as the early eighties when this began to happen. This has been a long time coming. What you can do is you can enable systems that will outlive your legislative session. … You can put in place systems that will help avoid this problem, so it doesn’t come up every year.
Focus on the concept of equality: That’s the word you should be using over and over and over again, because equality of each individual, without regard to race or skin color, is our highest national ideal. And it’s something we should be striving for as opposed to some of the euphemisms that get used like “equity” and other things like that. Make that the center of your fight. Whatever you are doing, it is to achieve equality. And that is extremely important.
Ensure transparency in education: There are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of parents out there who cannot find out what is being taught in their schools. They have to serve public records requests, which take time. And then you get told, you’ve got to pay thousands of dollars to find out what’s being taught in the school. And that is something that you can do. And there are model legislations out there, I know, that have to do with transparency. … That is the thing, because this movement against critical race theory, contrary to what Media Matters and union talking points will say, is not an astroturf movement. It is an on-the-ground grassroots movement. You don’t need to manage that information, but you need to empower it.
Zoom in on K-12: K-12 has always been subject to state regulation. Students are forced to be there by force of law. You have a captive audience. You can much more easily make the case for regulating K-12. For higher education, I would say, put that aside for the time being. It’s a much tougher issue. The concept of academic freedom and free speech has a much greater basis in higher ed than it does in K-12. For higher ed, one thing I think you need to start looking at is clarifying, if need be, your existing anti-discrimination laws. Because a lot of what goes on in higher ed, I believe actually violates existing anti-discrimination laws.
Be positive: You can’t just be against something. There are model curriculums out there that are available on teaching the positive aspects of history. The good and the bad. We don’t want to whitewash anything, but a more positive view of history, than this very dead-end ideology that we’re doomed as a society, that’s baked into our future. … You have to be happy warriors.
Read the full speech here.