By MARK SARDELLA
School is back in session and it seems that a little adult education is also in order.
Nearly half of the town’s taxpayer-funded budget already goes to the schools. In the next few months, Wakefield taxpayers will be asked to vote for a new high school at a total cost of $220 million. Even at that low-ball cost estimate, it will mean (at minimum) an additional $1,050 in property taxes on the average single-family home in Wakefield every year for the next 30 years – or $88 a month.
Do you think you’d miss $88 a month? That’s on top of the $300 a year that you’re still paying for the Galvin Middle School, which now looks like a bargain at a mere $74 million.
A town vote on the new high school is expected in January, which isn’t far off.
But before you vote to hand over another big chunk of your paycheck to the schools, you might want to know what those schools are teaching and who is influencing the curriculum, i.e., the courses offered at the schools.
As part of the decision to get rid of the traditional Wakefield Warrior logo, which consisted on an American Indian in a headdress, the School Committee decided to implement an “Indigenous Curriculum” across all grades and subject areas designed “to more accurately reflect Native American history, culture, voice and the contributions of Indigenous peoples connected to Wakefield.”
To accomplish that goal, a Task Force “of qualified Wakefield Public Schools educators, consultant historians and Native American education advisers” was assembled.
Each member of the Task Force was asked to read a book titled “An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States” and then discuss with the other members how what they learned from the book could be incorporated into the Wakefield Public Schools curriculum.
The author, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, is a self-identified Marxist-Leninist who has written numerous articles for socialist publications such as “The Monthly Review: an Independent Socialist Magazine.”
If the title of her book, an obvious nod to “A Peoples History of the United States,” by socialist author Howard Zinn, wasn’t enough to tip you off, the content of her book leaves no doubt that Ms. Dunbar-Ortiz is no fan of the United States of America. But her Marxism-tinged book is now being used to inform curriculum development in Wakefield Public Schools.
The depths of her antipathy toward her own country are such that she can hardly bear to mention its name without also dismissing its very legitimacy. For example, on page 4 of her book she refers to “the continent claimed by the United States.”
The subtitle of one of her chapters is “North America is a Crime Scene.”
In her Author’s Note, Dunbar-Ortiz refers to “America” and “Americans” as “blatantly imperialistic terms.”
To give you an idea just how far outside the mainstream Dunbar-Ortiz is, she even dismisses American multiculturalism as nothing more than “revisionist US history,” and “an attempt to accommodate new realities in order to retain the dominance.” In other words, multiculturalism is just another ruse implemented by the paleface to consolidate his power and supremacy.
On page 171 of her book, Dunbar-Ortiz swoons over John Collier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Commissioner of Indian Affairs – and an unabashed socialist. She writes in glowing terms of Collier’s belief that self-governing Indian tribes could “influence a move toward socialism in the United States.”
To Dunbar-Ortiz, the great U.S. presidents are nothing more than perpetrators of the “myth” of American exceptionalism. She has no use for President John F. Kennedy and his “New Frontier.”
“A key to Kennedy’s political success,” Dunbar-Ortiz writes, “was that he revived the frontier as a trope of populist imperialism,” which led, according to Dunbar-Ortiz, directly to the Vietnam War.
Even President Barack Obama wasn’t radical enough for her.
She quotes from President Obama’s inaugural address, where he refers to “reaffirming the greatness of our nation,” built by “the risk-takers, the doers, the maker of things…who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”
Dunbar-Ortiz finds such talk offensive.
“Spoken like a true descendant of old settlers,” she scoffs. To her, President Obama is just than another colonizer.
Dunbar-Ortis’s book is being used to guide curriculum development in Wakefield Public Schools. But she is not the only Marxist scholar whose ideas are being used to help shape local school curriculum.
Jamilah Pitts is a self-described “educational consultant and equity and justice strategist.” Ms. Pitts was brought in for four professional development sessions last school year to train Wakefield’s grade 5-12 teachers in “Culturally Responsive Teaching.” She also led a “retreat” for Wakefield school administrators.
A quick Google search turned up an article that Pitts wrote in 2020 for a magazine called “Learning for Justice.” In a piece titled, “Teaching as Activism, Teaching as Care,” she talks about ways that teachers can incorporate current events into student reading assignments.
“Teachers can allow students to apply critical lenses, such as critical race theory and Marxist theory, to the reading of news articles to allow students to think more deeply about who is being most affected and why,” Pitts wrote.
Are Wakefield parents happy that their tax dollars are paying Marxist thinkers to influence the education of their children?
It doesn’t stop there.
For the very first meeting of the Indigenous Curriculum Task Force, Wakefield school administrators brought in one of their favorite paid “consultants” as the keynote speaker. Dr. Mishy Lesser is founder of the “Upstander Project” and “Upstander Academy.”
Dr. Lesser’s Upstander Project/Upstander Academy preaches that all Americans of European descent are “invaders” and “colonizers” living on “stolen land.” Lesser and her Upstander Project want to “break down Eurocentric knowledge silos” and encourage “decolonization,” which, according to Indigenous scholars, involves an “ongoing critique of Western world views.”
Another “core guiding principle” of Upstander Academy states that “Non-Native people who benefit from a system that preys on Indigenous people and the land need to heal from their roles as perpetrators and deniers. The unearned sense of superiority that White people are socialized into can feed white supremacist ideology.”
Lesser and her Upstander Academy are guiding the development of curriculum in the Wakefield Public Schools.
Is teaching children that they are invaders, colonizers and potential white supremacists something that Wakefield taxpayers support?
And how do Wakefield parents and taxpayers feel about their children’s education being influenced by Marxist scholars who view the United States as illegitimate at best?
These are real questions that local taxpayers may wish to ponder over the next few months as they decide whether they want to add well over $1,000 a year to their property tax bills for the next 30 years to pay for a new quarter of a billion dollar Wakefield Memorial High School.