The story of Buffalo Public Schools is a sad and familiar one: a dying industrial town, underperforming inner-city schools, and high rates of failure among racial minorities. Instead of focusing on improving academic achievement, however, Buffalo school administrators have adopted fashionable new pedagogies: “culturally responsive teaching,” “pedagogy of liberation,” “equity-based instructional strategies,” and an “emancipatory curriculum.”
Buffalo Public Schools diversity czar Fatima Morrell, architect of the district’s pedagogical revolution, summarizes these dense phrases in a single word: “woke.” Last year, in her role as director of the Office of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives, Morrell created a new curriculum promoting Black Lives Matter in the classroom and an “antiracist” training program for teachers. According to one veteran teacher, who requested anonymity, Morrell’s training programs have pushed “radical politics” and, in practice, become a series of “scoldings, guilt-trips, and demands to demean oneself simply to make another feel ‘empowered.’” Teachers must submit to these “manipulative mind games” and express support for Morrell’s left-wing politics, or risk professional retaliation.
During one all-hands training session, the details of which I have obtained through a whistleblower, Morrell claimed that America “is built on racism” and that all Americans are guilty of “implicit racial bias.” She argued that “America’s sickness” leads some whites to believe that blacks are “not human,” which makes it “easier to shoot someone in the back seven times if you feel like it.” Morrell, who earned her Ed.D. from the University of Buffalo, said that the solution is to “be woke, which is basically critically conscious,” citing a pedagogical concept developed by Marxist theoretician Paolo Freire holding that students must be trained to identify and eventually overthrow their oppressors. After Morrell’s presentation, one teacher reaffirmed this political imperative, declaring that students must become “activists for antiracism” and public school teachers should begin “preparing them at four years old.”
Last year, as Fox News has reported, Morrell designed a curriculum requiring schools to teach the “Black Lives Matter principles,” including “dismantling cisgender privilege,” creating “queer-affirming network[s] where heteronormative thinking no longer exists,” and accelerating “the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics.” The lesson plans, which I have obtained from the district, are even more divisive. In kindergarten, teachers ask students to compare their skin color with an arrangement of crayons and watch a video that dramatizes dead black children speaking to them from beyond the grave about the dangers of being killed by “racist police and state-sanctioned violence.” By fifth grade, students are taught that America has created a “school-to-grave pipeline” for black children and that, as adults, “one million Black people are locked in cages.”