Teaching Censorship: National Education Association Called On Social Media Companies to Silence its Critics

A letter has surfaced from the National Education Association (NEA) that raises disturbing questions over the organization pushing social media companies to censor critics. The advocacy of the three-million-member organization for censorship is a chilling position for any group representing educators. It seems that nothing says “excellence in public education” like private censorship.

The letter was apparently sent one week after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent its controversial letter to the Biden Administration seeking federal action against its critics, including the suggestion that some parents might qualify as “domestic terrorists.”

In the NEA letter, NEA President Becky Pringle asked “to stamp out” the postings of critics over its support for Critical Race theory and related teaching material.

While the NEA labels such allegations as “misinformation,” it has called for the teaching of CRT and actually deleted one such call from its website after it was cited in the ongoing debate. In the “business item” the NEA expressly included CRT as “reasonable and appropriate for curriculum.”

In the letter to social media companies, however, the NEA denounced its critics as spreading misinformation by claiming that such material is “being taught in K-12 public schools.” Many such groups are seeking to avoid addressing race-related curriculum by insisting that technically CRT is a subject taught in law schools. The fact is that CRT was referenced by groups like NEA and school boards before this spin. Yet, the point is not how it is labeled but rather the objections to the teaching of subjects on white privilege, white supremacy, and related material that overlaps with CRT scholarship.

The letter also objects that “there are [sic] another small yet vocal group of extremists who are putting the safety of our children, educators, and families at risk over the notion that wearing a mask is in [sic]  infringement on personal liberty. The speed and reach of these lies that are manipulating so many of our citizens would not be possible without the use of social media platforms.”

Rather than answer critics and defend its prior support for CRT, the NEA worked to silence critics through corporate censorship, which is now the rage among liberal advocacy groups.

One can understand the expectation that Twitter and other companies would follow suit. After all, YouTube deleted critics of Vladimir Putin, why not the NEA?

Likewise, Democratic leaders are calling for censorship to defend democracy, why not censor to defend education?

There was a time when educators viewed free speech as the touchstone of both our democratic and educational systems. Now these educators advocate censorship as a way to silence those with opposing views. It is part of a growing movement. Faculty and editors are now actively supporting modern versions of book-burning with blacklists and bans for those with opposing political views. Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll has denounced the “weaponization” of free speech, which appears to be the use of free speech by those on the right. So the dean of one of the premier journalism schools now supports censorship.  Free speech advocates are facing a generational shift that is now being reflected in our law schools, where free speech principles were once a touchstone of the rule of law. As millions of students are taught that free speech is a threat and that “China is right” about censorship, these figures are shaping a new society in their own intolerant images.

The NEA letter is antithetical to the very essence of education. Nothing captures the Orwellian message than Pringle’s concluding demand that “[y]our companies have both the power and responsibility to stamp out disinformation and violent trends – for the sake of Public Education [sic] and the future of democracy.”

89 thoughts on “Teaching Censorship: National Education Association Called On Social Media Companies to Silence its Critics”

  1. “. . . like GOP controlled states telling teachers what they can teach and how it must be presented . . .”

    Such are the hazards of public (i.e., government-run) education.

    What really irks you, and others of your ilk, is anyone who challenges your desire to propagandize students with CRT’s racist garbage.

    1. Sam: Yes, there are national (Dept. of Education) and state standards that define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education so they can graduate high school, go on to college or find entry-level employment. States independently fund education but usually leave the nuts and bolts of curricula to school districts. That’s not what we are talking about here. In many GOP controlled states Republican governors and legislators are intervening to prevent any classroom discussion of race or the racist history of this country. It’s part of the “culture wars” the GOP hopes to use to ride to electoral victory this year and in 2024. In Florida Gov. DeSantis is pandering to his white voter base by backing Republican legislation to shield white people in Florida from “discomfort” in school or in job training if they are exposed to CRT or anything resembling it. It’s legislation specifically by and for white people. It’s called “white privilege”–something right-wingers like you deny exists. CRT is not “racist garbage”, not intended to make whites feel “guilty” or feel bad about what happened years ago and still exists today. The purpose is to educate about racism as a systemic problem, not a issue of individual discrimination. But people of your “ilk” don’t want that discussion. People of your “ilk” believe in the sanitized version of our history that believes white people built the nation and deserve all of the benefits. People of your “ilk” actually believe CRT is a “Marxist-Communist” plot to indoctrinate children to “hate” America. Shows how little you and your “ilk” actually know about CRT. Perhaps you should enroll at your local university, assuming you would qualify for entrance, and take an advanced course in CRT. You might be surprised by what you could learn. Funny thing but most public school students, when surveyed, are very open to learning about the racist history of the country–the racist background of many of the slave owning Founders, the actual causes of the Civil War, post-reconstruction, the lynching of Black people by the KKK, Jim Crow laws that preventing Black people from voting and other forms of discrimination. Now Southern states are implementing Jim Crow 2.0 by passing laws to make it harder for Blacks to vote. When teachers are told they cannot discuss the racist history of this country smart students ask: “Why not–what do we have to fear from the truth? They understand that you cannot stamp out an idea whose time has come. But people of your “ilk” don’t want students to learn the real history of this country with all its warts. You are like the alcoholic. The first step to recovery is to admit you are one. That’s the hardest part.

      The white power structure in this country is running scared. It understands the demographics don’t favor continued white rule for very much longer. The GOP hopes to win in the mid-terms but only because of gerrymandering and voter suppression. I sense you also fear the loss of white privilege. Get over it or get out of the way. As Bob Dylan famously sang “the times they are a’ changin”.

      1. “Perhaps you should enroll at your local university, assuming you would qualify for entrance, and take an advanced course in CRT. You might be surprised by what you could learn.”

        You’re a foolish person (and a tribalist race-huckster).

        I spent 17 years teaching at a T1 university, that is a hotbed of CRT. I taught and wrote about CRT, which is why I know what I’m talking about (while you don’t).

  2. Jonathan: We all know Donald Trump lies and exaggerates–the size of the crowds at his inauguration and at rallies, etc. From yesterday’s news we now know how far he will go to exaggerate the size and value of his properties. The criminal investigation of the Trump organization by NY AG Letitia James has found that Trump claimed in his 2015 financial statement his Manhattan Trump Tower penthouse was 30,000 sq.ft. worth $325 million. James’ investigators found the penthouse is actually just under 11,000 sq. ft.. Financial fraud? You betcha. We also know Trump is trying to shore up the value of his properties in other ways. On Monday Trump announced plans to build 2,300 luxury homes at his Doral golf resort where revenue has plunged 40%. Last year Trump borrowed $125 million on the property. It’s noteworthy Trump’s press release on Doral prominently featured an official US government seal. Federal law provides the official seal can only be used for official government business–not the promotion of private commercial interests. Of course, Trump thinks he is still president. While president, Trump played fast and loose with the emoluments clause so what he is doing now is par for the course–to use a term from Trump’s favorite sport. Hopefully, the DOJ will take legal action against Trump for violating federal law.

    So how is this relevant? Like Trump you also exaggerate–from the alleged threat from Antifa, the “free speech” rights of conservatives on university campuses and “censorship” on social media that you claim in your column is “now the rage among liberal advocacy groups. When it comes to real “censorship”, like GOP controlled states telling teachers what they can teach and how it must be presented, you have nothing to say. Or when Dr. Raul Pino, Florida’s state health officer, is suspended for complaining about the low vaccination rate in the state. you are strangely silent. That’s “censorship” in spades when Gov. deSantis can silence an official in charge of stopping the spread of a deadly virus. So stop complaining about “censorship” in the media when you are silent about all the many more egregious cases all around you!

    1. Puffery is not a crime.
      A difference of opinion is not a crime.
      A wrong number is not a crime unless fraud is involved and nothing stated above is linked to a crime.

      One lives in a 5,000 square foot home. No, it’s 6,000 square feet when the garage with no A/C is added. No, it’s 7,500 square feet when the covered patio is added. No, it’s 12,500 square feet when the roof with a lounge chair is added. Should the attacked pool-house of 2,000 square feet be added? Maybe. That takes us to 14,500 square feet.

      If someone asks how many square feet of house that fictitious person owns, could he respond using any of those numbers? Yes. Would it be illegal? No. When the bank asks such questions, they have their own people to evaluate the property. When the property appraiser describes the home, he might break it down to A/C covered.

      Nowhere has anyone shown why one number is better than another or how any of the above numbers are fraudulent.

      The problem is not with Trump. It is that Trump likely followed the law, and some are annoyed that in following the law, Trump has prospered and likes to let everyone else know that he did so..

  3. Can anyone reading this tell us what is untrue about CRT (Critical Race Theory)? Jim Crow happened. How do you teach history about the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments without telling the true history? America’s supreme loyalty oath for presidents, legislators, judges, police officers and the military was amended after the Civil War – how do you teach that history by using political correct history?

    Opponents of CRT want a fictionalized version of American history that is politically correct. For example: Research the history books for the State of Virginia the past few decades. Virginia termed it “Virginia History” and it largely omitted the vantage point of African-Americans. Does anyone think that is the complete history?

    What is untrue about CRT, we’d like to know?

    1. “What is untrue about CRT . . .”

      That it’s racist. That it pushes a racist interpretation of American history. That it sees everything through the lens of race. That it’s tribalist: It peddles the fiction that you are your ethnicity. That it promotes tribalist warfare: It peddles the fiction that there are the “oppressed” (blacks) and their “oppressors” (whites). That it’s collectivistic and Marxist — merely replacing “economic class” warfare with racial warfare. That it views capitalism as inherently racist.

      And that’s just for starters.

      P.S. It’s a bait-and-switch to claim that CRT is merely trying to educate students about race relations in America. Those relations have been a standard part of the teaching of American history, since forever.

      1. Sam,

        Respectfully disagree. The goal of the American model of government is not “equal-outcomes” (ie: communism) but the goal is “equal-opportunity” so that capitalism and the free market competition functions properly.

        Quality public education, unequal enforcement of laws, job opportunities, school meals for students, etc provides a severe disadvantage for poor Americans, in poorer neighborhoods, to compete on a more level playing field. Whether it’s predominantly black Harlem or predominantly white Appalachia. It’s not equal-outcomes (same salary, same car, same house, etc) it’s equal-opportunity to compete in the workforce.

        Not that long ago (less than 70 years ago) African-Americans were banned from entering department stores in liberal Washington DC. Banned from public swimming pools, elite white sports (tennis, golf, etc) and other privileges most of us take for granted. Many would never get hired as doctors, auto mechanics, HVAC technicians, etc. States like Virginia (and federal agencies) practiced “Eugenics” which was later adopted by Germany in the 1930’s and adopted by the Nazis. Some states seized the actual property of African-Americans and gave it to white people, their descendants alive today lost millions of dollars in assets from these thefts. That’s not equal-opportunity to compete with other Americans (premise of free enterprise and capitalism).

        The purpose of studying accurate and complete history is to learn the lessons of history so we make fewer mistakes in the future. Race is a very big part of American history.

          1. If race is not a factor, how many anti-CRT Americans would send their kids to a public school in a predominantly African-American zip code? Would you send your kids to an inferior school? Would it affect their future job opportunities? Be honest.

            Following “Brown v. Board of Education” we tried bussing once before and many white people opposed it based solely on race because of drastically unequal education and unequal public school facilities.

            Shouldn’t we teach true accurate history so we can not repeat those problems?

            1. “Shouldn’t we teach true accurate history so we can not repeat those problems?”

              Sure. But racist history (i.e., CRT history) is not “accurate history.” It’s history distorted through the lens of race — just as Marxism is history distorted through the lens of class warfare. The Marxist view of history, as wrong as it is, is far more intellectual than is the CRT view of history.

              1. The goal to learn true and accurate history so that we do not repeat it is turned on its head where many (not all) proponents of CRT are so willing to remediate the racism of old with racism de jour. The sadder part is to look over your shoulder at the highest concentration of these proponents (realizing it or not) who hail themselves as the saviors fighting to right the wrongs but having little clue they only exacerbate the foolish perils of what has been not so cleverly woven through the Marxist ideology they blindly inhaled at indoctrination camps – sorry, I meant campus – across the country.

            2. “If race is not a factor, how many anti-CRT Americans would send their kids to a public school in a predominantly African-American zip code?”

              AZ, do you know who is blocking a better education for the minority students in NYC? You got it, NY Democrats and the Teachers Union. There is somewhat of a dual school system paid by the public. In one system (grossly in the vicinity when looking at the entire NYC school system), 70% graduate without proficiency in English and Math. In the other school system, 70% graduate with proficiency or above proficiency in English and Math.

              Which group do you prefer? 1) 70% failure or 2) 70% success. This is all documented in a very carefully controlled study involving many schools and grades. Democrats wish to push the 70% failure rate.

              Don’t make everything about race. It is more about politics. In the above schools white kids attend the same public schools. Schools are assigned based on where one lives. CRT is another Democrat political attempt to destroy education and make everyone think only one way.

              1. “. . . blocking a better education for the minority students in NYC?”

                And across the country, by blocking charter schools and vouchers.

  4. @Daniel

    Nice review of Tiffany Jewell’s book. Of course, I doubt the book mentioned the average IQ gap between Asians, Whites, Mestizo Hispanics and Blacks – those would be “hate facts”.

    I will take s@@tlibs more seriously when they volunteer to send their own kids to mostly black and minority schools. Of course, they won’t because being a good s@@tlib doesn’t require getting ones hands dirty. Name calling and putting the right sign in your yard is enough.

    antonio

  5. Free Speech Imperiled In Florida

    Health Official Put On Leave For Decrying Low Vaccination Rates In His Own Department

    Dr. Raul Pino, who became a trusted voice of the pandemic response in the nation’s tourist capital, has been placed on administrative leave from his post as the state’s chief health officer in Orange County as the Florida Department of Health conducts an investigation.

    Sources who spoke to the Orlando Sentinel on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Pino’s status said he was placed on administrative leave after a Health Department employee complained about an email he sent Jan. 4 to agency staff about employee vaccination rates.

    In the email, Pino said 77 of 568 employees had been fully vaccinated, including receiving a booster shot. Another 219 had received two shots.

    “I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated,” Pino wrote in the email, according to the TV report. “We have been at this for two years, we were the first to give vaccines to the masses, we have done more than 300,000 and we are not even at 50%, pathetic.”

    Since March 2020, when the pandemic erupted in Central Florida, Pino has been a fixture on more than 150 press briefings to discuss COVID-19. He last appeared at a press briefing Dec. 28, discussing the rise of the omicron variant.

    Pino has urged residents to get vaccinated against the virus to protect themselves, those more vulnerable and the region’s tourism economy.

    https://www.orlandosentinel.com/coronavirus/os-ne-raul-pino-administrative-leave-20220118-urh66o22kre2voe3kockmfoz3q-story.html

    …………………………………………………………………

    Professor Turley would have us believe that only conservatives are subject to irrational restrictions on free speech. But here is a case of a public health official, in our third largest state, being suspended from his position for being concerned about public health!

    Apparently some conservative complained because Dr. Pino hurt their feelings by noting the “pathetically” low rates of vaccination within Orange County’s Health Department. As though a rate of ‘less than 50%’ should be acceptable for Health Department employees in a major county.

    The truth is conservatives are as ridiculous as liberals when it comes to free speech issues. But Professor Turley can scarcely be depended on to report both sides of this. To hear it from Turley, only conservatives are ‘victims’ of censorship.

    1. He was not fired. He was not demoted. He was placed on leave while determining if he broke the law.

      Your comment is inaccurate, but that is par for the course.

  6. Jonathan: Public school teachers are being attacked physically for talking to students about gender identity and the racist history of the country. This is on top of teacher shortages, dealing with Covid and ongoing threats of school shootings. Teachers are also underpaid. No sympathy from you. Now, in many GOP controlled states teachers are prohibited from addressing the racist history of the country. In Wisconsin, Republican politicians passed a law that fines teachers for even mentioning racial topics. In Texas, teachers have to discuss “both sides” when discussing topics like slavery or the Holocaust. How is a teacher to present the “positive” aspects of either slavery or the mass killing of millions of Jews? Bizarre and anti-historical. In Pennsylvania teachers were told they could not discuss the insurrection on Jan. 6–excuse me, you want to call it a “riot” despite the evidence. In Indiana the GOP controlled legislature is proposing a bill to stop the teaching of anything resembling CRT–an unprecedented regulation of what teachers present in class. The GOP thinks that white children might feel “guilty” if they learned something about slavery–e.g., that slaves built the Capitol or that Jefferson and many of the founders owned slaves. So the GOP and its allies in parental groups are eschewing academic freedom–imposing a draconian agenda that will tell teachers what they can teach, how they present it and even the language used in the curricula.

    The anti-CRT furor is a right-wing coordinated attack on public education. It is part of the “culture wars” the GOP wants to use this year to take back control of Congress. They want to use CRT to justify defunding public education–replacing it with segregated charter and religious schools and school vouchers. This effort is based on conspiracy theories and disinformation on social media–even on Fox News. The false information about CRT has encouraged violent attacks on teachers. That’s why the NEA has sounded the alarm. Now you have joined the anti-CRT crowd by falsely alleging the NEA letter is a threat to “free speech” and “antithetical to the very essence of education”. Really? What about the “free speech” rights of teachers to be free of political interference or the “free speech” rights of students to learn all of the history of the US with all its warts. Academic excellence doesn’t come from just the white sanitized version–the one I was taught.

    Here’s a question for you. Suppose the dean of your law school where you teach calls you in and says: “Jonathan, beginning with the next quarter all your teaching materials must be reviewed and approved by an outside committee. On the committee will be myself, Noam Chomsky, Lawrence Tribe, other academics and representatives from the state legislature. Should you fail to submit your teaching materials for review you could be sanctioned, including fines, suspension or dismissal”. How would you react to such a demand? Now you know how public teachers feel when they are told by outsiders what to teach and how to teach it!

    1. ” Public school teachers are being attacked physically”

      Physical attacks on teachers have always occurred so what you have said is meaningless unless you can show a trend. I can show a trend, as pushing the idea of social justice (based on envy) has increased attacks all over.

      Your ideas are the cause of a lot of the violence we see, along with poverty and poor education standards.

      SM

    2. How would you react to such a demand?

      Have you ever been a father or parent and raised children? I have. Democrats, School Boards, Teachers Unions attacked, injured and caused irreparable harm to children. Start there.

      School Closures Were a Catastrophic Error. Progressives Still Haven’t Reckoned With It.

      https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/progressives-must-reckon-with-the-school-closing-catastrophe.html

      Sometimes you need to own up to an error so it’s not repeated.

      – Jonathan Chait

    3. “Now you know how public teachers feel when they are told by outsiders what to teach and how to teach it!”

      It’d be nice if you knew what you’re talking about.

      Curricula (and countless other classroom issues) are already decided by “outsiders” — by the state and local school districts. Such are the hazards of *public* education.

      Or are you suggesting that the money to pay for those schools be confiscated from parents, and those those parents should just shut up?

  7. Corrupt communist teachers unions must be irrevocably decertified in perpetuity.

    Reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, Founders and the dominion of the U.S. Constitution must be taught in American public K-12 schools; that process must include rational, effective, judicious and economical budgets.

    Usurpation of the power of elected officials by corrupt communist teachers unions is unconstitutional and actionable.

    Elected officials must establish and implement curricula while consulting the Constitution and constituents.

    The military is every nation’s primary workforce; the military will never unionize, strike or otherwise unconstitutionally usurp power nor should teachers unions.

    Corrupt communist teachers union members who strike must be removed and terminated with extreme prejudice.

    Corrupt communist teachers unions must never again be allowed to usurp the power of elected officials.

    Corrupt communist teachers unions must never again be allowed to corrupt and interdict the educational process in America.

    Communist teachers unions are the direct and mortal enemies of the Constitution and America.

    We don’t want their respect, we don’t want their love, we want their fear.

Leave a Reply