Joe Biden's likely pick for education secretary helped create a mandated, statewide minority-studies course that "analyze[s] how race, power, and privilege influence group access to citizenship, civil rights, and economic power."
Miguel Cardona, the current Connecticut commissioner of education, played a key role in creating the curriculum for Connecticut's required course in African-American, Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino studies. The curriculum supposedly helps students "consider the scope of African American/Black and Puerto Rican/Latino contributions to U.S. history, society, economy, and culture" and is rooted in "critical race theory," which claims that America is intrinsically racist. As the state's commissioner of education, Cardona oversees all educational programming.
On Dec. 2, the Connecticut State Board of Education unanimously approved the curriculum for the mandatory course, which students will be required to take beginning in the fall of 2022. The curriculum is only mandatory for high school students, though other K-8 school systems are also changing their curricula along similar lines.
Hearing Youth Voices, a left-wing activist group that works to integrate "political education and theory" into public schools, helped develop the curriculum with Cardona. Hearing Youth Voices hosts a slew of diversity training sessions, including one that claims "capitalism is at the root of white supremacy, patriarchy, police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline and so much more." Other training courses call for police abolition and refer to Israel as a police state.
The Anti-Racist Teaching and Learning Collective was also involved in finalizing the curriculum's instructional materials. Following a review of the course's syllabus, the group said the curriculum helps students engage in "anti-racist leadership."
Cardona has long been a proponent of integrating identity politics into public education. In a press release for Connecticut governor Ned Lamont (D.), Cardona said that "identities matter" in the context of a child's education success, "especially when 27 percent of our students identify as Hispanic or Latino and 13 percent identify as Black or African-American…. [M]ore inclusive, culturally relevant content in classrooms leads to greater student engagement and better outcomes for all."
The finalized curriculum asks students to "examine the scope and legacy of resistance that has been integral to African American, Black, Latino, and Puerto Rican histories" and includes readings about the Black Lives Matter movement. It also asks students what the experiences of minorities "reveal about the United States, its foundation, and how power is structured today."
An "expert review panel," which was filled with educators who support critical race theory being taught in the classroom, had input on the curriculum. One reviewer, Glenn Singleton, founded an organization that teaches students that individualism, competition, politeness, the scientific method, planning for the future, and the nuclear family are "aspects and assumptions of white culture." Stefanie Wager, another member of the review panel and president of the National Council for the Social Studies, said social studies should be used to combat racism.
President Donald Trump has resisted the growing push for critical race theory in education and training seminars. He signed an executive order barring critical theory-inspired trainings from the federal government and established a commission to reorient educational programming around American ideals. Under Cardona's leadership, the Biden administration is likely to undo those changes, especially given the pressure from outside education groups to reverse Trump's order.
The Biden transition team did not respond to requests for comment.