Federal ESSER Grants Push Critical Race
Theory Into Public Schools
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. September 11, 2021
Over the past year, Congress has allocated nearly $200 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund: CARES $13.5 billion / Covid Relief $54.3 billion / American Rescue Plan $122.7 billion. Though the purposes of reopening the schools and dealing with learning losses sound benign, this is a Trojan horse. Critical Race Theory is being pushed into public schools through federal grant mandates.
Five statesare receiving 39 percent of the $122.7 ARP (ESSER III) funds: California $15 billion, Texas $12.4 billion, New York $9 billion, Florida $7 billion, and Illinois $5 billion. In my home state of Texas, 16 percent goes to these five school districts: Houston $804 million, Dallas $543 million, Ft. Worth $262 million, Aldine $236 million, and San Antonio $208. (Click here to find the ARP funding for your school district.)
ARP requires the spending of at least 20 percent for “evidence-based” interventions that “respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs.” This must include “free, antiracist therapy for White educators.”
Since Texas’ share of the funding for ARP is more than $12.4 billion, at least $2.48 billion must be allocated toward the SEL / CRT with “therapy for White educators” programs.
SEL is used to psychologically manipulate a student’s beliefs, values, and worldviews to shift them to socialism, secular humanism and a New World Order. SEL has become a vehicle for the Marxist based Critical Race Theory to indoctrinate students.
As a guide for spending ARP funds, the Biden administration published a handbook, “Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs.” The handbook claims that “schools are microcosms of society” requiring “intentional conversations related to race and social emotional learning” if educational opportunity is to be achieved.” (p.9) The Roadmap suggests that districts and schools use social-emotional and mental health programs along with a focus on "equity" to "help all students feel seen and valued." (p.9)
The “Roadmap” links to the Abolitionist Teaching Network’s “Guide for Racial Justice & Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning” which promotes the narrative that America is a systemically racist nation. Their “Resources,” which include 1960s domestic terrorist Angela Davis, clearly show the organization is anti-white, anti-capitalism, and anti-police.
The Network boasts, “In August, 2020, we released a guide for racial justice and abolitionist social and emotional learning. It's been downloaded thousands of times and used in hundreds of schools already.”
Traditional SEL with its five key competencies – “self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making” – can be a “covert form of policing used to punish, criminalize, and control Black, Brown, and Indigenous children and communities to adhere to White norms,” according to the Network. Abolitionist SEL differs significantly. It is “not an isolated lesson” but rather a “way of being that informs all aspects of teaching, learning, and relationship building with students, families, and communities.”
Endorsed by the Biden Department of Education, the Network Guide for the ESSER funding has numerous recommendations including these:
“Partner with and compensate community members to develop and implement Abolitionist SEL models.”
“Remove all punitive or disciplinary practices that spirit murder Black, Brown and Indigenous children.”
“Requir[e] a commitment to learning from students, families, and educators who disrupt Whiteness and other forms of oppression.”
“Free, antiracist therapy for White educators and support staff.”
“Free, radical self/collective care and therapy for Educators and Support Staff of Color.”
The Biden Department of Education is ignoring that several of these recommendations are illegal under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Schools may not define a race as inherently oppressive or provide race-specific therapeutic services premised on race-specific mental illnesses.
About 50 percent of the states have either passed or proposed legislation that bans Critical Race Theory. Any school districts which accept ARP funds in states with a CRT ban will violate state law.
Judging from the reports about parents storming school board meetings, this fight will be shifting into high gear as the public finds out the truth about federal ESSER grants pushing Critical Race Theory into their schools.