Back several decades ago, I taught English language arts to eighth graders. A public relations opportunity came along and I never returned to teaching formally, although I’ve spoken to thousands of middle and high schoolers as part of Mission America’s pro-family advocacy.
So I never got around to joining the NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English, a professional group for pre-K through graduate school teachers of English. If only this group’s current 25,000 members would re-think affiliation with what has become a literacy-avoiding, extreme political group.
The NCTE met in Columbus, Ohio from November 15 to 21st and I join many others in shame that our city hosted this “education” group, considering much of what was presented. In a state where 8th grade reading proficiency in our largest cities is well below 50%, this group is a hypocritical disgrace.
Their goal is for students to become activists, not readers or writers.
The name of the convention was “Conexiones 2023,” which is the Spanish word for “connections.” I love Spanish, but we get what this is. The National Council of Teachers of English apparently salivates to openly display contempt for American culture, and the rampant white supremacy that so universally plagues our country. Or so we are all supposed to believe. If only this group could deeply appreciate the immense blessing given by God that English-speaking America, despite our flaws, has been to lift marginalized people out of ignorance and poverty.
Even though the convention did feature star power (an appearance by actor Tom Hanks, having just published his first book), the rest of the meeting was a mostly downhill slide into cultural Marxist/racist/LGBTQ claptrap. Very little about reading and literacy divorced from leftist politics.
With major sponsors like Scholastic, Penguin/Random House, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and GALE, this group is all about defense of so-called “banned” books. Yet before we attribute horrible motives for what you will read below, there may be a simpler answer: follow the money. Publishers seem to own this group and the more outrageous the material, the more it sells.
There’s no doubt that America’s children/college students will nevertheless suffer if teachers adopt the propaganda learned at NCTE. Among the workshops offered for professional development were these:
“White Teacher Work: Our Responsibility to address Racism as Those Who Benefit from It. Ideas and Actions from the Field (Reckoning with Our White Privilege).” This was one of many that addressed “antiracism” and CRT.
“I'm with the Banned: Strategies for Bringing Banned Books into the Classroom.” Will these strategies include lessons about oral and anal sex? Another workshop presented a defense for “Eight Great Censored Books,” including The Handmaid’s Tale (pro-abortion, anti-Christian); The Hate U Give (trashing of police and distortion of racial issues); All Boys Aren’t Blue (explicit sex and advocacy of gender deviance); and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (vulgar language, explicit content).
These books will “create necessary conversations about pressing societal issues.” Is pornography a pressing social issue? It does create a healthy bottom line for the publisher-owners of the NCTE.
Another presentation: “Our Blood Is Beautiful! Shattering Cycles of Shame, Stigma, and Silence to Create Space for Stories of Menstruation. Join educators and middle grade BIPOC women and nonbinary authors to discuss the need for books on ‘taboo’ topics like menstruation.” So important, to literally no one.
“Decolonizing the Department: Promoting Antiracist Grading Practices through Collaboration and Networking: Nontraditional grading to promote equity, student agency, metacognition, and growth. Participants will leave with a plan to collaborate with colleagues in their quest for equitable, antiracist, student-led grading.”
Decolonizing? Student-led grading?? What happened to phonics?
Then there’s this-- “Reckoning with the Whiteness of English Presenters: Disrupting white supremacy in various K-12 language arts contexts. Session attendees will consider antiracist teaching projects with a special focus on reckoning with whiteness.” This convention is drenched in proud hostility to white people, as part of inclusion, of course.
And then, let’s not forget the charm of terrorism: “Highlighting Palestinian Joy through Prose and Poetry.” Would that “joy” include celebrating the rape and massacre of Israeli women and children?
To be fair, there were several Jewish-themed workshops, including two about the Holocaust, and there is also a Jewish caucus. Let us hope they were respectfully treated in the current climate of open anti-Semitism.
There were several Muslim/Arab workshops, but nothing that was explicitly Christian. Is there no Christian-themed literature available for instruction-- just to be actually diverse and inclusive?
One wonders if the workshop describing “Texts for Teaching toward Climate Justice” will recommend that these be placed on the shelf with other titles on mythology.
Every other workshop title was described as “disruptive,” “equitable,” or “diverse.” NCTE also has “strands” for special interests-- you know, early education, research, and of course, LGBTQIA+. This group has its own caucus and gives out a yearly “Advocacy and Leadership” award.
So of course there were the predictable homosexual/gender distortion presentations: “Queer(ing) Conexiones: approaches to queer work (meaning both LGBTQIA+ identities and work that disrupts norms) in ELA classrooms; presentations include context of K-12 teachings and teacher education on inclusive LGBTQIA+ ELA topics.” (ELA stands for English language arts. LGBTQIA+ stands for high risk, immoral nonsense).
Not to be outdone, other presenters offered “Queering Literacies: Disrupting Normativity through Queer-Inclusive Classroom Practice.” Does this mean outright classroom discrimination against Christians who don’t buy that homosexual behavior or gender deviance will ever be “normative”? Sounds very bigoted and exclusive.
Consider this: “High School Matters—The Future Is Queer . . . If We Fight for It: Creating New Bonds and Connections with LGBTQIA+ Texts.” Or, “Beyond Boxes: Intersectionality in Queer Middle Grade Fiction.” Yes, we totally trust these teachers with vulnerable children.
The convention program proudly announced that the meeting would, of course, have “gender inclusive” restrooms.
And in case we doubted that the professional expectation is for teachers to mold their students into radicals, here’s this workshop: “Youth and Protest: The Teacher's Role. Youth have been at the forefront of social movements internationally, like Arab Spring, and in the US, with racial injustice, climate change, and book bans. What can educators do to encourage and guide students to make their voices heard?”
Do we mean the voices of indoctrinated, given-one-viewpoint, manipulated adolescents? Could any student be directed to, you know, be a pro-life witness at a Planned Parenthood facility?
And yet more queer offerings-- “Queer and Trans Books for Classrooms and Libraries. Teachers and librarians share curriculum focused on literature, legislation, and current events that disrupt heteronormative power structures.” And it’s guaranteed that most of these books will describe, in obnoxious detail, teen anal or oral sexual encounters, bodily fluids, who took off what pieces of clothing and who put what where-- all necessary to the understanding of “current events,” of course.
And, “Queering Curriculum: From History of Sex to Superheroes and GSAs. This session offers queer and trans curriculum design for an elective, a classroom unit, and a GSA. Next, a high school unit on queering superheroes.”
What this means is that soon, your high schoolers will be offered full classes on “queerness.” Think about that.
And where do you, parent, fit in? Here’s where: “Parents as Partners or the Problem: Preservice Teachers' Beliefs about Families and Literacy.”
And for those of us already concerned about the growing dominance of therapy-as-education (as in social emotional learning), there was a workshop on “Mental Health Picture Books.” And another, “Supporting Students Dealing with Trauma and Mental Health Disorders: Books and Authors as Connection Points for Educators.“ There were also several sessions explicitly covering SEL (social emotional learning).
To be fair, there were a few sane-sounding presentations, like, “Explicit Vocabulary Instruction for the Secondary Education Classroom Audience.” But apparently, the principal focus of today’s English teacher is to turn students into anti-white, anti-police trans activists.
If only they could at least do one other important thing.