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Tony Monzo, of Court House

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Notwithstanding the mischaracterization of what I actually wrote in my op-ed on critical race theory (CRT), I was pleased to read the responses in the many letters to the editor and in the recent op-ed written by Ted Bryan and Charles Payne. I do not know these gentlemen and I am sure they have good intentions. Yet, they are far off the mark in their attempt to move the ball forward in addressing a problem that is brewing in schools throughout the U.S., and Cape May County has not been spared. 

I first want to acknowledge that we live in a nation where blood was shed for the freedom of speech, and all opinions are welcomed and encouraged without retribution, but rather than engaging in a debate over our history, I would rather continue on with my views on what this nation is becoming and how CRT is playing a critical role in moving us from a capitalist to a socialist society. Bryan and Payne, on the other hand, dwell on our history of racism, which I do not dispute. Yet, they turn a blind eye on the fact that CRT is being taught in our schools and they refuse to focus on the problems that it will cause to our children and consequently our nation.  

In support of their misguided views, they said that I produced no evidence because I spoke to none of the principals or teachers. However, I attended the school board meetings and addressed the people who actually make the decisions and set policy — the school board and the superintendent, but a discussion is not possible when you are limited to four minutes to speak, and they do not respond. My op-ed was a warning and not an accusation that CRT was being taught, yet Bryan and Payne concluded otherwise.  They say there is no evidence and then say that the teachers are “either unwitting dupes or conspirators in the destruction of our county.”  

First of all, I am not going to judge the motives of the teachers, the administrators or the board. I am, however, going to expose a curriculum in Lower Township that does in fact teach CRT. The curriculum includes a category for grades K-6 under the heading Social Emotional Learning (SEL). It might as well have the heading CRT. It was developed by a leftist nonprofit organization called the Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL). The curriculum includes topics on various emotions, such as anger, greed, jealousy, pride, and guilt, and focuses on sharing and diversity 

Although sharing is something we all want our children to understand and do, this is something that parents should be instilling in their children rather than teachers and school administrators. Sharing is a good thing if done out of compassion rather than compulsion, and out of love rather than guilt, but when done as part of the school curriculum, it is aimed at “rearing” rather than “teaching” children and focuses on behavior rather than academics. The goal is to program our children into an ideology that strips them of their individuality and forces them to all think alike, and to act collectively in accordance with the program.   

CASEL’s stated mission is “to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning an integral part of education from preschool through high school,” and its vision is to see “all children and adults as self-aware, caring, responsible, engaged, and lifelong learners who work together to achieve their goals and create a more inclusive, just, and equitable world.” 

Jane Robbins, who is an attorney and a retired senior fellow with the American Principles Project in Washington, D.C., as well as a graduate of Clemson University and Harvard Law School, recently wrote:  

“CASEL downplayed the leftist slant of socio-emotional learning, presenting schools and parents instead with a sanitized picture of teaching children compassion and responsibility, but in the era of Black Lives Matter, the mask is off.” 

The president and CEO of CASEL, Karen Niemi, recently announced that CASEL has revised its definition of and framework for “socio-emotional learning” to highlight the value of SEL as a weapon for social justice. She emphasizes student “identities” and “marginalization,” “equity,” “just communities,” and the “collective” rather than the individual. 

In a June 2020 webinar entitled “SEL as a Lever for Equity and Social Justice,” CASEL proclaimed that SEL should be used to elevate favored students, based primarily on race, over disfavored students by stating, “A color-blind approach ignores the humanity of the people you’re interacting with.” The commentator concluded by saying that this approach makes us “reproductive of the inequities that we are experiencing in our schools, in our communities, in our health care systems, etc.”  

Niemi declared that “social-emotional learning must actively contribute to anti-racism,” and sees SEL as a tool for anti-racism. According to Niemi, social-emotional learning helps students “move from anger to agency and then to action,” primarily in the cause of anti-racism. All this will come from teaching children to “examine prejudices and biases [and] evaluate social norms and systemic inequities.”  

Getting back to the statement made that the teachers are “either unwitting dupes or conspirators in the destruction of our county,” I contend that the teachers, and possibly the administrators and board members, may not fully understand what is happening, but buying into the SEL program is, according to Robbins, “radicalizing students for the transformation of America.” She continues by saying that “CASEL and its compatriots have apparently decided that SEL is now sufficiently entrenched in schools that they can pull back the curtain on the real purpose. They’re gambling that parents either won’t realize what’s happening or will feel too intimidated to object. 

Now that the curtain has been pulled back and the underlying agenda has been exposed, we need to cleanse our schools of this indoctrination. Schools should return to academics rather than undermining the roles of parents. SEL is a major weapon for the CRT activists and must be abolished from the curriculum in our schools. 

ED. NOTE:Monzo is an attorney in Court House,where he has practiced law for 32 years. He is a graduate of Temple University School of Law,where he also received amastersoflaw intaxation.His practice areas are in real estate, commercial transactions, taxation,and health care.He is alsopresident of the local chapter of the Christian Legal Society.   

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