Episode 50: Combatting Critical Theory in the Classroom | Steve Welliever
A former STEM teacher and administrator at an independent private school in Washington State, Steve Welliever was at the epicenter of a lot of the critical theory dogma that is making its way into our classrooms. After leaving his school with a series of grievances, he applied for teaching positions with no success, eventually taking a construction job to pay the bills.
Despite now being outside of education, he’s dedicated his life to combatting critical theory in the classroom. In today’s podcast he gives some practical boots-on-the-ground tips and insights for those who are either unaware of the issues, or who are aware, but don’t know what to do.
Like many stories we hear, the impetus for introducing racialized pedagogy in Washington started out with bipartisan support to give more attention to diverse cultures in education. Only after receiving widespread support (because, really, who doesn’t support more cultural competency… anyone?) were the critical race theory underpinnings unveiled.
An Ethics Study Advisory Committee was established to create a framework. Steve has fought to be in these committee meetings (they are public, although he wasn’t always welcome). What many parents don’t know, is that they can be in these meetings too. While the resources that Steve gives are specific to Washington, similar committees can be found in other states, with information on meetings (see below).
WA OSPI Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee
With little effort, you can also find resolutions, like Washington’s State Board of Education Resolution of Intent to Establish Ethnic Studies Graduation Requirement. It was the enforcement of such a class that lead Gabs Clark to file the first First Amendment lawsuit against a school in Nevada, when her son’s graduation was threatened if he didn’t comply with the dictates of a similar course.
WA State Board of Education:
For Steve, who often feels he is an Army of One at these various meetings, he tells us the problem is more dire than we may think. Indeed, he calls the ethnic studies framework a “communist utopia scam”. That is that it uses historical narratives of oppression to seize power through collective action with the ultimate goal of happiness, a playbook Marxist tactic (see the framework below).
Unfortunately, a lot of the concern is often drowned out as the media, large donors, and other non-profits dominate the public messaging. This is particularly easy to do when parents who go against the grain risk their children coming afoul with their peers and teachers, or when parents are demonized as “domestic terrorists” for questioning curious language. Staying silent, and lifting up a prayer that their child can escape any indoctrination, is the safest solution.
Add into this equation that many teachers’ colleges across the nation require immersion in this pedagogy that undergirds teaching methods even if critical ethnic studies, or other critical pedagogy, is not a mandated (more in podcast resources below).
Perhaps we could even justify some of the critical theory ideology if it was truly in the best interest of the children, for example, if it was proven to close the skills gap. According to Steve’s research, the adoption of racial equity policies has, at least in some instances, had the opposite effect. He offers the Tukwila school district as an example (below and more in podcast resources).
Thankfully for parents, there are a lot of organizations that are now providing the toolkits that give parents the resources to lift the veil of these purposefully murky initiatives, and to join those like Steve to develop a truly diverse curriculum without division.
Join us to discuss Steve’s journey and find additional podcast resources, alternatives, and toolkits below.
In the Hold my Drink — navigating culture with a chaser of civility, and Counterweight podcast, Episode 50, we speak with Steven Welliever a former STEM teacher, now construction worker, who has dedicated his time to revealing the problems with critical theory in K-12 education. Steve shares with us tips and insights that help parents reveal hidden ideological agendas, become their own educational investigators, and combat critical theory and Marxist indoctrination in the classroom. All discussed with a chaser of civility, of course, and a homemade ginger beer and a Bloody Mary.
Hold my Drink welcomes all people with all kinds of beverages to join us as we explore the truths of a chaotic and beautiful world, together.
More Podcast Resources
The Water Where We Swim:
University of Washington, College of Education, Secondary Teacher Preparation Program
10 Professional Development Days Planned per Year:
WA OSPI, Staffing Enrichment Workgroup, 2019 Final Report to Legislature, Page 26:
Required training content: WA Professional Educator Standards Board, Cultural Competency CCDEI+ Standards:
Tukwila, WA Public Schools – Racial Equity District Policy:
NYTimes “America’s Most Diverse School District”:
Tukwila School District Presentation - Successful Race Equity Policy Adoption
Tukwila District academic declines after 2016 policy implementation:
Data Source, WA OSPI School Report Card:
*See Steve’s Cheat Sheet for finding information in Washington State below.
What Steve is Reading:
The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939, Terry Martin
We'll Meet Again in Heaven: Germans in the Soviet Union Write Their American Relatives, 1925-1937, Ronald J. Vossler
What Jen is Reading:
Parents Respond to DOJ, School Board’s Statements: ‘I am what a domestic terrorist looks like?’ Fox News, Sam Dorman
Steve Welliever does construction in the Seattle area. He is a former math and science teacher, and independent, middle school Head who found himself on the outside of a rapidly changing mission of education. He listens to CRT-fueled, K-12 bureaucracy meetings over the job-site radio. You can find him on Twitter @StevenWelliever
Steve’s Cheat Sheet For Taking Action and Finding Resources
Open Public Meetings Act:
“The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”
Public Records Requests:
WA state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, WA State Board of Education on-line form: https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/contact-us/ospi-public-records-request/online-forms/public-records- request
(Public Records Requests made to your local district in WA state will require the same types of information).
WA K-12 bureaucracy-reports to read and boards/committees to watch:
WA State Board of Education Resolution of Intent to Establish Ethnic Studies as Graduation Requirement: https://sbe.wa.gov/resolution-intent-establish-ethnic-studies-washington-state-graduation-requirement
WA OSPI Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee:
Committee authorized by SB5023, SB6066 recently concluded; Ethnic Studies K-12 framework, resources, and standards compliance explanation due Sep 1, 2021 is still delinquent, expected Oct 2021: https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/workgroups-committees/concluded-workgroups/ethnic- studies-advisory-committee
OSPI Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight & Accountability Committee (EOGOAC): https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/workgroups-committees/currently-meeting-workgroups/educational- opportunity-gap-oversight-and-accountability-committee
Public Educator Standards Board Cultural competency, diversity, equity, and inclusion (CCDEI+) standards initiative: https://www.pesb.wa.gov/innovation-policy/ccdei/
OSPI Race and Ethnicity Student Data Task Force: Guidance for the WA State Public Education System: https://www.k12.wa.us/sites/default/files/public/workgroups/ret/pubdocs/ resdtaskforce2017guidancewapubliceducationsystem.pdf
OSPI K-12 Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Implementation, SB5395: https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/resources-subject-area/sexual-health-education/comprehensive- sexual-health-education-implementation
Includes Social Emotional Learning (SEL) mandates for K-3; OSPI SEL page focuses on Racial Equity: https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/resources-subject-area/social-emotional-learning-sel