Teaching Tolerance? Or Teaching Indoctrination?
Curriculum materials on the topic of illegal immigration were presented in a 7th-grade class in a Chapel-Hill Carrboro middle school.
The lesson was allegedly a Common Core-aligned English Language Arts assignment and students were given a hand-out from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s offshoot called, “Teaching Tolerance.”
A variation of this lesson was located on the Teaching Tolerance website and appears to be part of the organization’s “anti-bias framework.”
The Teaching Tolerance document makes a number of claims, none of which are annotated for students to explore on their own and verify.
Biased, Overly Simplistic, White-Washed
A review of the hand-out shows a blurred and oversimplified view of both legal and illegal immigration.
The overwhelming thrust of the Teaching Tolerance hand-out is to paint illegal immigration as ‘good’ and opposition as ‘bad’ using a series of ‘myths’ which are not really addressed, but instead white-washed.
The materials seem to be more concerned with manipulating perceptions surrounding illegal immigration and projecting a pro-illegal immigration stance.
In one section, the fact that illegal aliens do not pay income taxes yet do received taxpayer-funded benefits is downplayed by noting that illegal aliens pay taxes, “every time they buy gas, clothes or new appliances.”
In another section, the hand-out in question asserts that because an illegal alien child has to wait until they are 21 to petition to allow their parents to join them that there is, “no such thing as an anchor baby.”
The reality is that these kids are born in the United State to illegal alien parents and the majority of the time, on the U.S. taxpayer’s dime. The parents don’t just sneak over and have the child, they stay – making it difficult to deport just the parents as they are ‘anchored’ to the child, hence the term “anchor baby.”
However, this reality would not be picked up on by a 7th grader given this hand-out unless their parents intervened. Which the parents of these students have.
American Lens received several emails containing complaints about the materials from parents of children attending two different middle schools. In both schools, the children were given the same Teaching Tolerance hand-out.
A parent who did not wish to be named told American Lens that the illegal immigration lesson included verbal instruction which centered on how students can ‘help make their school a sanctuary’ and how to ‘aid illegal students hiding from ICE’.
The parent said that “this is a biased, selective and simplistic view of illegal immigration, the nuances of which are hard for most adults to dive into and comprehend, much less a kid in 7th grade.”
Approved or Unapproved Resource?
American Lens reached out to the district for comment. Since these two claims were in-class verbal instruction, Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools Communications Director, Jeff Nash, said that the district would not be able to comment.
“Regarding the two comments about making a school sanctuary and hiding students, I did not see those included in the document (granted my perusal was rather quick), and therefore would not be able to make any official comment,” wrote Nash.
American Lens also inquired about whether Teaching Tolerance materials are approved resources. Nash indicated that their Language Arts/Social Studies coordinator was very familiar with the Teaching Tolerance document we asked about.
Materials suggestive of creating sanctuary schools modeled after sanctuary cities was readily found on the Teaching Tolerance website.
Nash told us that the coordinator told him that it was approved and recommended by the NC Department of Public Instruction(NCDPI).
“It was distributed at a recent curriculum symposium hosted by DPI,” said Nash.
American Lens was directed to Ms. Fay Gore at NC DPI; the state’s K-12 Social Studies Section Chief. Gore’s answer was the opposite of what Chapel Hill-Carrboro had indicated.
“We do not approve local curriculum materials,” wrote Ms. Gore. “That is the responsibility of each local school and or district.”
Gore indicated she was familiar with Teaching Tolerance’s materials and that DPI had shared some of their resources in the past. She also indicated that these materials had been presented during leadership events that DPI hosted.
Gore said that “They are know [sic] to produce research-based materials.”
What research is the basis for Teaching Tolerance hand-out in question? Is it their parent organization? It’s unknown because, as previously mentioned, there are no footnotes or annotations whatsoever on the document.
American Lens contacted NC DPI to obtain comment on Teaching Tolerance from Superintendent Mark Johnson.
While a direct quote was not forthcoming, the following statement below was forwarded to us by DPI’s Director of Communications, Vanessa Jeter.
The last paragraph takes a direct jab at the State Board of Education over the current legal issues between the board and Johnson.
This particular reading assignment was not approved by DPI. The selection of supplemental curriculum materials is a local decision.
Although the Superintendent has not reviewed this reading assignment, he understands your concern and the concern of members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community. He has no knowledge of any past presentations or past relationships between the Department of Public Instruction/State Board of Education and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those questions would be better directed to Chair Bill Cobey and Vice Chair Buddy Collins.
Existing staffing challenges at DPI do limit the ability of the State Superintendent to look into these issues, and he would encourage you to explore the impacts of the State Board of Education’s lawsuit against the State and the Superintendent.
The lawsuit Johnson’s statement refers to is over House Bill 17. Read more about the lawsuit.
Biased Materials based on Biased Research
It has been recently reported that a Guidance counselor at an NC Elementary school who sent out an anti-Trump themed email to staff the day after the 2016 election titled, “What do we tell the children?”
The anti-Trump email also contained a list of resources which included Teaching Tolerance.
As noted in an earlier report, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was dropped by the FBI as a resource for investigating hate crimes after the center’s “hate map” was used by a man to attempt a mass shooting in 2012.
Two years later, in 2014, SPLC and two other left-wing entities sued the NC Department of Public Instruction alleging that certain districts had denied school enrollment to illegal alien children.
American Lens compiled a list of instances where NC DPI or North Carolina school districts are openly using Teaching Tolerance’s materials.