Republican-led School Board to Decide on Afro-centric Marxist Content in High School Curriculum

by | Aug 29, 2023 | News Analysis, Commentary and Opinion

11/21/23 UPDATE: The New Hanover School Board held their ‘Stamped’ book hearing and our analysis may be read here.

This is Part Two of a three-part series on the all-pervasive Marxist indoctrination happening across New Hanover County schools. Part One is currently published.

Is Removing a Controversial AP Class Book an Act of Censorship or Does the Book’s use Veer into the Realm of Political Indoctrination?

It was mere days ago when New Hanover County Schools (NHCS) Republican school board members flipped to the Left to rehire the county’s first Woke Superintendent. Now, the question is: will they flop back to the Right on the decision to remove far left indoctrination curriculum?

The New Hanover County school board faces a pivotal decision on September 1st when they’re scheduled to review the use of a radical book in Advanced Placement (AP) classes. The book in question, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, is penned by a controversial figure, a pseudo-historian advocating “future discrimination” as a solution to “existing” prejudices.

The book’s authors incorporate the word “You” in its title, disavow it as “not a history book” and end the closing chapter with a call to activism. Such hallmarks, and many others throughout the text, clearly suggest its primary intent is not educational. Rather, it is designed to influence young minds to an Afro-centric Marxist ideology — a movement filled with ill-intent. This book is a clear example of presentism; it’s a shameful grift on half-truths and falsehoods, distorting the actual for ideological motivation.

What is Presentism?

In historical analysis, “presentism” is the tendency to judge the past based on current values and norms. This approach can skew our understanding of history — or lead to incorrect conclusions — by failing to consider the unique circumstances and beliefs of the time being studied. Avoiding presentism is crucial for a nuanced, accurate interpretation of the past. 

While Democratic members of the board are staunchly against discontinuing the book, uncertainty surrounds the Republicans’ position. Four out of the five sitting Republican members recently made an unexpected move to the left by voting to extend Superintendent Foust’s contract through 2027, nearly a full year before the original contract’s end date of June 30, 2024. 

The Stamped Book Series: Mere Firebrand Novels Based on a Collection of True Stories

The Case of Progressive versus Classic Liberal Education

The situation that has developed over recent months started when an AP teacher, Kelli Kidwell, at Ashley High School assigned a book to High School students that was written for the sixth grade reading level. The book, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” penned by authors Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, is adapted from Kendi’s original work “Stamped From the Beginning,” first published in 2016. Parents unfamiliar with author Ibram X. Kendi should quickly acquaint themselves.

The Concern

Katie Gates is the parent who came across the book in the school’s AP Language and Composition class when her teenage daughter was asked to purchase and read it for the course. After reviewing the book, Gates raised concerns with both her daughter’s teacher, Ms. Kidwell, and the school administration about the book’s controversial and ideological content. In an email addressed to Ashley High School administrators, the AP teacher, and school board members, Mrs. Gates highlighted the book’s inaccuracies, biases, and its strong anti-American, Cultural Marxist commentary guised as facts. Although Gates’ daughter was given an alternative book for the assignment, she firmly believed that the Kendi book was so misleading and far from the truth that she appealed for its removal from AP courses at Ashley High School. Following a review by a committee at the school level, the school administration chose to not remove the book. Consequently, she appealed the decision and now the book is set to be reviewed by the school board at the forthcoming hearing this Friday.

Although classified as “non-fiction,” this a pseudohistorical piece used to apply Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the public school classroom. While many on the left claim CRT is a college-level course and not taught in K-12, School Board Chair Pete Wildeboer was given a presentation peppered with CRT terminology and nomenclature. Sadly, this citation from the U.S. Department of Education’s ERIC system shows there are attempts to roll out Applied-CRT in K-12 schools nationwide.

 

(Below) Board Member Pete Wildeboer responds to the moderator’s question on Woke curriculum in New Hanover County Schools.

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a movement that is “a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power.” It stigmatizes all whites as oppressors from birth and condescendingly declares all minorities to be victims who will never be capable of achieving their dreams in “white” America.

— The Heritage Foundation, The Critical Classroom, 2022

About The Book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Ibram X. Kendi, the founder of Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, published the first Stamped book in 2016, titled Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. His second book in the series, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (2020), by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, is a stylized remix of the original Stamped book. This adaptation of the original book was intended to make the content more accessible to middle school reading levels — ages 12 and older.

The content of the Stamped remix, as with all books in the Stamped series, covers the pseudohistory of racism in the United States, from the country’s colonial beginnings to present day. With Jason Reynolds’ touch, this book is a very easy read with an Afro-centric narrative.

Kendi describes three distinct groups of people when it comes to racism: the Segregationists, the Assimilationists, and the Antiracists. Throughout the book Kendi uses these three terms as labels and designates them to various historical figures. Taken from the book’s Introduction, here’s how he describes these terms:

“Historically, there have been three groups involved in this heated argument. Both segregationists and assimilationists, as I call these racist positions in Stamped from the Beginning, think Black people are to blame for racial inequity. Both the segregationists and the assimilationists think there is something wrong with Black people and that’s why Black people are on the lower and dying end of racial inequity. The assimilationists believe Black people as a group can be changed for the better, and the segregationists do not. The segregationists and the assimilationists are challenged by antiracists. The antiracists say there is nothing wrong or right about Black people and everything wrong with racism. The antiracists say racism is the problem in need of changing, not Black people. The antiracists try to transform racism. The assimilationists try to transform Black people. The segregationists try to get away from Black people. These are the three distinct racial positions you will hear throughout Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You—the segregationists, the assimilationists, and the antiracists, and how they each have rationalized racial inequity.”

Stamped is a critically conscious trope on racism, stitched together with the thread of Critical Race Theory (CRT). The book’s premise is that racism is born from White European Christians for the purpose achieving economic and political dominance over Americans of African descent. The sole topic is about White oppression and Black victimization. There is little-to-no mention in this book of other forms of racism that exist. For example, the authors’ perspective completely omits Asian discrimination and Antisemitism from their narrative.

David Bernstein, professor of law at George Mason University, best described Kendi’s antiracism as “pernicious” when he laid out a critique of Stamped on a Reason.com post:

Kendi’s antiracism ideology is pernicious. He divides the world into segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists. The assimilationists, like the segregationists, are in Kendi’s telling all racists (pages xii-xiii). This includes almost everyone prominent who has ever worked for civil rights, including Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois (at least until he became a Communist), Martin Luther King, Jr., and more. Any book that depicts these individuals as racists should raise more than a few eyebrows before getting assigned to middle-schoolers.

Bernstein continued,

The hero of the last third of the book is Angela Davis. For some reason, even though she was [a] Communist who devoted most of her life to advancing Communism in general rather than civil rights specifically, and was an over-the-top apologist for every brutal action ever taken by the USSR, she becomes the exemplar of antiracism. Davis’ attitude toward Soviet Jewish dissidents fighting for religious and cultural freedom, for example, was worse than dismissive. The Harvard Crimson reported in 1972 that Davis “explained that the situation of Jews in Russia ‘has been totally blown out of proportion by the bourgeois press because they’re going to do everything they can to discredit socialism.'” Not incidentally, she was and remains [link has her engaging in a modern version of blood libel by ridiculously linking Israel to police violence against blacks in the U.S.] an antisemite, and it’s rather difficult to see how a racist against Jews can be an antiracist heroine. (One wonders more generally if it’s a coincidence that every one of Kendi’s modern heroes–Davis, Malcolm X, Jeremiah Wright, Stokely Carmichael–has a history of antisemitism.)

In his article, Bernstein exposed numerous inaccuracies and falsehoods found in the book.

The Stamped Franchise

Kendi’s adaptation of his book for various reading levels highlights his effort to reach the broadest audience possible for his antiracist message. This rollout bears resemblance to a religious catechism.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You
Stamped from the Beginning: A Graphic History of Racist Ideas in America

The following is the full Stamped series line-up; all based on the original book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America:

  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (2020), by Jason Reynolds (Author) and Ibram X. Kendi (Author) — ages 12 and older.
  • Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You (2021), by Sonja Cherry-Paul (Adapter), Jason Reynolds (Author), Ibram X. Kendi (Author), Rachell Baker (Illustrator) — ages 7 through 11.
  • Stamped from the Beginning: A Graphic History of Racist Ideas in America (2023), by Ibram X. Kendi (Author) and Joel Christian Gill (Author) — all ages.

Additionally, Netflix revealed plans to create two documentaries and an animated series based on Kendi’s books, Stamped from the Beginning and Antiracist Baby. The first documentary is scheduled for release in 2023.

Kendi is also on the speaking circuit, charging as much as $20K per appearance.

Kendi’s CBS Mornings Show Book Promo Interview

Last month, Kendi launched his Stamped graphic novel. In a subsequent book-promo interview, he unveils his Far Leftist political leanings by:

  • stating he used Angela Davis, a Communist partisan, as one of the narrating voices in his graphic novel;
  • reinforcing the idea that the U.S. is and continues to be a racist country;
  • stating “racist policies” such as race-based voter suppression continues, but in a more sophisticated way; and,
  • claiming books by minority authors are being banned, but not guns.

(Below) Watch the CBS Mornings show hosts interview Ibram X. Kendo about his graphic novel. (Click image to play video)

Ibram X. Kendi on Critical Race Theory

There should be no doubt that Kendi is a proponent of Applied-CRT and employs it in his works. In the following Slate interview with Jason Johnson, Kendi says the way he has formulated his work is based on Critical Race Theory (CRT) and that it is foundational to his book and being an antiracist.

Listen to the excerpt audio clip of Kendi’s interview.

An Interview with Ibram X. Kendi | Is Critical Race Theory Getting Canceled?

by Slate | A Word... with Jason Johnson (2021)

Transcript:

“I think it’s— I mentioned, for instance, the way in which intersectional theory, which is one of the critical components of critical race theory, is foundational to, to, to being Antiracist. And, and, and so I just I can’t imagine a pathway to being Antiracist that does not engage critical race theory. I mean, critical race theorists specifically over the last forty years have been so foundational to providing a structural analysis of race and racism, which is, to be Antiracist is to have that structural analysis.” — Ibram X. Kendi

Listen to the entire podcast episode.

The Absurdity of Kendi: Babies are Racist, an Intervention is Needed

As a fully employed academic at Boston University, Ibram X. Kendi gets away with stating some of the most preposterous things.

In the following interview, Kendi goes to such lengths in promoting antiracism that he attempts to peddle the idea that babies and toddlers are racist. Is he lacking intelligence, or does he hold an assumption about your intellect?

(click image to watch video)

From Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist book:

“The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

— Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist (2019), p. 19.

Did Racism Spawn Slavery or Did Slavery Spawn Racism?

There are now two versions of American History on Racism: one that presents racist systems designed to benefit Whites, and the other that presents Racism in the context of historical events.

Compare and contrast the following videos and consider: Why is Thomas Sowell’s book Discrimination and Disparities not part of the AP curriculum in NHCS? The book doesn’t even appear in the NHCS library catalog. Furthermore, it’s conspicuously absent from Kidwell’s alternate reading list for her AP Language and Composition class at Ashley High School. Why?

You make the call.

Kendi’s World Perspective

Understand Kendi’s perspective in this interview with The Guardian.

Thomas Sowell’s Perspective of Racism and Economic Disparities

Economist Thomas Sowell offers an entirely different interpretation of American racism that fundamentally clashes with Kendi’s Antiracist viewpoint, making it impossible for the two perspectives to coexist.

Thomas Sowell Continued

Many people are unfamiliar with Thomas Sowell, and among those who do know of him, few are aware of this specific book, Discrimination and Disparities. In the following interview, Sowell completely undermines the foundation of Kendi’s antiracist hypothesis — and its structural racism argument — with facts.

The Heritage Foundation: CRT is in the Classroom and is Dangerous to Children

In 2022, The Heritage Foundation published The Critical Classroom: How Critical Race Theory Undermines Academic Excellence and Individual Agency in Education. This book describes in detail how CRT is on the verge of undermining our society by applying CRT in our nation’s classrooms. It cites Kendi as one of the most prolific applied CRT and social justice evangelists.

(click on image to read “The Critical Classroom”)

Heritage plainly explains how CRT reinflames racism by clamoring for a new race-consciousness in policymaking. And, that it stigmatizes all whites as oppressors from birth and condescendingly declares all minorities to be victims who will never be capable of achieving their dreams in “White” America.

The Heritage Foundation:

“…CRT’s most devastating impact may be what it does to the black community and the black family. By withdrawing individual agency and responsibility from human action and outcomes, and placing all the emphasis on “systemic racism,” CRT proponents absolve individuals from any accountability and eliminate any hope of success.”

 

Applied-CRT in Public Schools

This Doctoral student assignment (pdf) from the University of Texas at Arlington serves as additional proof that applied-Critical Race Theory is spreading throughout public school administration, with the expectation that it will be implemented at the public-school level. This assignment teaches educators how to deal with fellow colleagues who are averse to adopting the applied-CRT mindset in a K-12 school setting. The authors of the assignment, Erika Roland and Daphne Warren, have considerable influence in the educational field, and their strong Far Left ideologies are evident. Daphne Warren is a member of the Steering Committee for Diversity, Decolonization, and the German Curriculum, and also serves as a College Board advisor for the AP German Language and Culture Development Committee. The incorporation of applied-CRT principles has already commenced in New Hanover County’s school district, led by Superintendent Charles Foust.

New Hanover County Schools to Decide the Fate of Stamped

The New Hanover County School Board is set to make a decision on the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You in a hearing scheduled for this Friday, September 1st. Parent Katie Gates will present her argument for removing the book from AP Language and Composition courses. The case for its removal should be straightforward. In fact, not only this book but all books from the Stamped series should be excluded from the entire New Hanover County School district, covering both classrooms and libraries. These books not only lack educational merit but are also harmful to students’ learning due to the erroneous information they contain.

Unanswered Questions about Stamped in New Hanover Schools

Several Public Records Request (PRR) inquiries concerning Ms. Kidwell’s use of Stamped in her AP class have raised additional questions. Here’s what we’ve discovered.

Kendi’s Books Across New Hanover Schools

A public records request disclosed that around 72 books by Kendi are in circulation within the district, forty-eight (48) are Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You. The distribution of this book is as follows:

  • 12 at Ashley High School;
  • 24 at Myrtle Grove Middle School;
  • 3 at Trask Middle School;
  • 2 at Hoggard High School
  • 2 at Noble Middle School;
  • 2 at Williston Middle School;
  • 1 at Holly Shelter Middle School;
  • 1 at Laney High School;
  • 1 at Murray Middle School;

The elevated count of these books at Myrtle Grove middle school could suggest their use as classroom materials. Parents with children in these schools should familiarize themselves with how these books are being utilized.

Anomalies with Ms. Kidwell’s AP Course

Given the controversial nature of this book and its author, it’s surprising that it entered the NHCS district and a classroom setting with seemingly little scrutiny. While there are established procedures for vetting teaching materials, some irregularities appear to have occurred when Kendi’s Stamped was introduced into Ms. Kidwell’s AP Language and Composition class. Let’s examine this.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracsim, and You was released by the publishing house Little, Brown and Company in March of 2020. Publicly released records show that the first group of these books were acquired within six months of its release, on August 25, 2020.

Did anyone have time to read and review this book prior to purchase?

It seems so. Through the public records request process, NHCS released a two-page Q&A document that explains how books were acquired and found their way into Kelli Kidwell’s AP class. This document was shared by the district without further clarification, apart from its opening sentence:

“The information below is what we got from Ashley about the process used to purchase the initial copy of ‘Stamped’ and the additional copies.”

Although the document doesn’t reveal who is posing the questions or who is answering them, it looks like something was amiss with the acquisition process. From what can be gathered by the document, ten (10) of these books were bought using library funds, intended for the SIT Committee’s “Global Read Aloud staff book study” in support of the SIT A4.22 goal.

The mention of ‘SIT’ likely refers to Ashley High School’s ‘School Improvement Team.’ According to the document, their A4.22 goal was to ensure that:

“All teachers are responsive to students’ cultural backgrounds and incorporate culturally-relevant material in their classrooms.”

In early October, the school acquired two additional Stamped books at the behest of Ms. Kidwell.

This prompts us to ask: Did Ms. Kidwell begin incorporating Stamped into her classroom during this 2020/21 school year?

These twelve are the sole copies documented at Ashley High School.

(Below) Page 1 of a NHCS-released document describing how Stamped was procured.
(click image to enlarge)

NHCS Letter describing Stamped approval process pg1

(Below) Page 2 of a NHCS-released document describing how Stamped was procured.
(click image to enlarge)

NHCS Letter describing Stamped approval process pg2

The Mystery of the Blank Quality Review Checklist

In this PRR, an unused (blank) Quality Review Checklist (QRC) was included — and the only one provided within NHCS’s response. Was a QRC not initiated when these books were purchased or when Kidwell had them transferred to her class for student use? This PRR response suggests that the QRC form may have been circumvented.

What is the ‘Quality Review Checklist for Instructional Resources’?

District Policy 3200 states that this checklist MUST be used by the teacher to determine the appropriateness of materials for students.

NHCS Policy 3200 B.3.
“Materials Brought in by Teachers

“Before bringing in any material that has not already been approved at the school or district level, a teacher must determine that the material is appropriate for the classroom by evaluating the material using the Quality Review Checklist for Instructional Resources. Principals may establish additional rules concerning what materials may be brought in by teachers. Principals are encouraged to involve teachers in establishing these rules.”

(Below) The NHCS Quality Review Checklist for Instructional Resources.

NHCS's Quality Review Checklist for Instructional Resources

It seems unlikely that ‘Stamped’ would have passed the approval process based on the form’s questions, which include criteria like whether the content is “inflammatory, controversial, demeaning, offensive, or emotionally charged.” If any area on the form were to receive a “No,” the form instructs the teacher to reconsider and modify the material to assure “high-quality and culturally responsive instruction for ALL students.”

Why would this book fail the Quality Review Checklist? This book:

  • depicts many African-American civil rights heros as enablers of racism;
  • unfairly tethers Christendom to racism in the 17 mentions of words Christian and Christianity;
  • portrays outspoken antisemites Malcolm X and Angela Davis as the leading figures of the civil rights movement.

So, where is the Quality Checklist that’s associated with the purchase of these books? If one was never filled out, should use of this book immediately stop? If not, why not?

Did the College Board Actually Green Light Stamped for Kidwell’s AP Class?

To offer an AP class, both the teacher and the school administration must go through a vetting process set by the College Board for each course they intend to offer. The teacher is required to upload their proposed course syllabus, along with a list of books and other materials, to the College Board’s online review platform. After approval and certification, the course receives a one-year license, which is extended to both the school and the teacher; the course is then included in the official AP Course Ledger.

(Below) Kidwell’s AP approval letter for AP Language and Composition course.

Kidwell's AP Ledger approval

An inconsistency appears to exist in Kidwell’s AP Course submission. According to information obtained through a public records request, the syllabus that NHCS claims Kidwell submitted to the College Board for approval doesn’t fully align with what she’s actually teaching in her AP class. Specifically, the syllabus submitted to the College Board omits two books she used in class: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You and The 57 Bus, a work focused on gender identity.

How did these two books end up in the course without being submitted for AP approval by the College Board? Does this violate NHCS policy or College Board regulations?

(Below) Screenshot from teacher Kelli Kidwell’s AP Language and Composition syllabus with ‘Stamped’ and ‘The 57 Bus’ not listed as texts to be used in course — document provided by NHCS via Public Records Request 23-128.

AP Lang Syllabus submitted by Kidwell

What Will the NHCS Board Decide?

Here, we have a book that’s certainly destructive for young minds. And, it seems we have a book that has the ability to somehow circumvent review processes put in place by district policy and the College Board. How does this occur? Why did it require a vigilant parent to uncover what seems to be significant flaws in the material acquisition system? How many other instances like this are going on without scrutiny?

There’s no doubt that both the book and its author should be eliminated from the district, and possibly some staff members as well.

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