Woke Ed: Activist OC Educators Pledge To Teach Critical Race Theory…No Matter What

By:Matthew Cunningham

In a reaction to the growing parent revolt against embedding Critical Race Theory principles in school curriculum, a number of activist teachers in Orange County have signed a public pledge to teach CRT principles, regardless of opposition from parents or bans by elected school boards.

The pledge is an organized campaign by the radical Zinn Education Project to push-back against parental opposition to using public schools to inculcate students with radical ideas about race, justice and American history.  

Zinn Education Project is a radical progressive group named for the late Howard Zinn – the leftist writer and activist whose seminal “A People’s History of the United States” popularized the notion of US history as a chronicle of oppression, injustice and racism.   

“We have silenced different perspectives of history and the experiences of the disenfranchised for too long,” commented pledge signer Faith Jennings, a Cal State Fullerton education professor who specializes in “diversity” curriculum and teacher training.  “We need to stop sanitizing and white-washing our nation’s history so we can move forward in a more equitable, inclusive and just manner.”

“I owe my students the truth. I will never give them anything less than that,” wrote Anaheim High School history teacher Lizette Barrios-Gracian, equating the controversial principles of Critical Race Theory to teaching “the truth.”  

Lizette Barrios-Gracian at anti-police/BLM protes she helped organize on June 1, 2020

The Capitol Resource Institute, a conservative advocacy organization supporting parental choice in education and opposed to CRT, published an online mapping tool displaying Zinn petition signers geographically, and their petition comments.

Common thread running comments is the conviction that to teach CRT principles is to teach “the truth” about American history, and that traditional American history curriculum is a biased narrative that “whitewashes” the story of the United States by allegedly avoiding “uncomfortable truths.” They view many of our institutions as shot through with “systemic racism” and believe they have a moral duty to impart CRT principles to their students, notwithstanding opposition from parents:

  • “Teachers have a responsibility to teach the experience of the oppressed in this country and the ongoing legacy of chattel slavery,” stated teacher Stephen Pink of Brea.
  • “Without an awareness and understanding of the past, especially of the biased beliefs that influenced the foundation of our system of public education in the early 20th century, we are bound to repeat and reinforce it,” Mark Ellis of Fullerton.
  • “Students deserve to know some uncomfortable truths,” said Megan Gibbs of Fullerton.
  • “Truth must always be taught. Even if it is uncomfortable for some,” Tina Alcarez-Andres, a Santa Ana Unifed School District teacher and Democratic activist.
  • “I pledge to work to decolonize education,” Kate Augusta Burke of Newport Beach.
  • “It isn’t right that I had to wait to be an adult in college before I started to learn the true history of the U.S.,” wrote Brenda Plascencia-Carrizosa, who teaches child development at Saddleback College
  • “Every American deserves to know the truth about the past. Whitewashing the challenges our nation has faced/continues to face is not acceptable,” Courtney Amaya, a history teacher at Canyon High School in the Orange Unified School District. 
  • “I have the courage to teach hard history, to teach the truth, to teach my students about the real, unvarnished history of our country,” Jennifer Eckert-Toler, a teacher at Dana Hills High School. 
  • “My students deserve to understand the country as it is, in order to dismantle the current racist system.” Christopher Lopez of Dana Point.

These comments ring of dogmatism more than legitimate pedagogy, and have the earmarks of Critical Pedagogy, a cousin to CRT developed by Brazilian Marxist Paolo Freire and widely held by activist educators. According to Critical Pedagogy, teaching to be an intrinsically political act that must bend toward “social justice.”  That’s why woke activists teachers see nothing wrong with using their positions to sway their students toward progressive political activism. Indeed, it would be wrong not to do so.

Take Lizzette Barrios Gracian, for example.  Speaking at the “2016 Better Together: California Teachers Summit” sponsored by Cal State Fullerton’s Education Department, Gracian delared, “I’m an activist. I teach activism and civic engagement.” Actually, at the time, taxpayers were paying Gracian to teach Spanish, not “activism.”

However, Gracian’s love of student activism appears limited to the woke kind. In January 2019, she professed a more violent reaction to Covington High School student Nick Sandmann, the pro-life MAGA-hat wearing teen smeared by the national media:

“Lord forgive me,” Gracian commented on Facebook, “But I want to kick that kid in the face.” And in another post, re-posted an attack on the 17-year-old Sandmann as a “rich, self-entitled asshole.”


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