An attempt to divide + conquer: Part II in our series on honesty in education

Image of Minnesota being cut in half and toppling over

Last week, we started our deep dive into the right wing’s manufactured panic around “Critical Race Theory.” If you missed it, check it out on our blog. This email is part II: why the heck this is happening. 


As I mentioned in my previous blog, this summer, the Center for the American Experiment set off on a statewide tour to inject fear and division into discussions about what our kids learn at school about race, racism, and the social movements of our past and our present.

The tour is just one example of a nationwide mobilization by right-wing think tanks and conservative pundits to whip voters into a frenzy aiming to propel GOP candidates to victory in upcoming elections — from local school board races to state and national ones. More than half of states have introduced bills or enacted restrictions on how teachers can talk about racism and sexism.

So, why the heck is this happening? 

This is about a handful of right-wing elites attempting to divide and distract us to accumulate power, suppress our voices, and hoard wealth.

Scholars like Ian Haney Lopez have dubbed this tactic “strategic racism” or “Dog Whistle Politics.” From Goldwater and Nixon to Trump and McConnell, right-wing operatives have baked up tactics that don’t openly refer to race — or that claim to be about equality — as a tactic to win elections and undermine our collective power.

The straw man GOP operatives have created and misleadingly dubbed “Critical Race Theory” tries to turns community members against each other, our children, and our schools to distract from a more pressing conversation about the investments we should be making in our children and our education system.

In other words, by stoking fears around talking honestly about race in schools, right-wing pundits are attempting to undermine our faith in public schools and in government. They want to undermine arguments for collective investments in our children and their futures, for public healthcare, public housing, and affordable college for all.

Part of the right’s vision is private education — school vouchers and tax dollars that “follow the child.” This kind of government serves corporations — not people, schools, or teachers. In their world, people who are already well off are the only ones with access to education, to healthcare, to housing. Everyone else gets left behind.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Divide-and-conquer is the oldest trick in the book. We’re not falling for it. We know the power of solidarity. We have a vision for a multiracial democracy where we invest our collective resources to ensure everyone can live a joyful, dignified life. We are sure that there is, indeed, enough to go around, and that we know how to care for each other.

This shared vision needs action — and we’re here to support YOU to do just that. 

Next week, you’ll hear from a parent in Pequot Lakes who has joined with other parents and community members to reject division and unite for the community they love. They want to see more of the best of Pequot Lakes — and work toward a community where every child feels welcome and every family can succeed. 

Keep your notes coming — I love hearing from you. 


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