AMHERST, Mass. – While many school districts slyly implement far-left social justice reforms behind closed doors, others are flying the red flag proudly.
The Amherst-Pelham Regional School District, which recently subjected middle school students to a social justice assembly that left children sobbing and traumatized, penned a 63 page document in 2008 detailing their intent to socially transform America, via your children.
The document, titled Social Justice Commitment, clearly outlines Amherst-Pelham’s fervent dedication to an all-encompassing and radically progressive social justice curriculum.
The district’s “philosophy and rationale” for the commitment states:
A cultural shift in our school system is indicated… which targets the collective and visible implementation of “a curriculum for social responsibility in which the balance shifts away from the individual and towards the social whole.”
According to a 2011 document providing a “history of equity work” in the district, this “philosophy and rationale” comes from “the Curriculum and Instruction goals of the BAMSS Standards of Practice and the district’s call for equitable instructional action ‘in every classroom, every day.'”
The BAMSS (Becoming a Multicultural School System) Initiative, adopted by the district in 1993, contains a paragraph titled “Our Vision of Multicultural Education,” which states:
Understanding that “schools are essential to laying the foundation for the transformation of society and the elimination of oppression and injustice,” the Amherst Pelham Regional Schools affirm their commitment to becoming a multicultural school system, defined both as “a philosophical concept built on the ideals of freedom, justice, equality, equity, and human dignity as acknowledged in various documents (such as the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)” and “a process of comprehensive school reform and basic education for all students [which] challenges and rejects racism and other forms of discrimination in schools and society and accepts and affirms the pluralism (ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, economic, and gender, among others) that students, their communities, and teachers reflect.”
To accomplish this task of training other people’s children in matters of morality, race, religion, and gender, the district has adopted a framework consisting of six key points, that it says, are a must in implementing its social justice commitment.
The framework, as cited by the district, is borrowed from a document whose author describes it as one that “draws on philosophic conservatism” but contains “some of the core values … associated with socialism.”
Specifically, according to Amhert-Pelham’s Social Justice Commitment, which they say is a “work in progress:”
The district’s implementation of a social justice commitment for students and staff must (cited in Pitts, originated with Giddens 1994 and edited for use here):
• repair damaged solidarities and reconcile autonomy and interdependence
• recognize the importance of the discussion of ethics, “life politics”
• encourage individuals and groups to make things happen, “generative politics”
• create a participatory democracy where issues are discussed respectfully and transparently
• develop conditions that empower participants as opposed to merely dispensing
• confront the role violence plays at all levels of human interactions
With regard to the third point listed in the framework – “generative politics” – the district suggests that the curriculum encourage students of all ages to engage in community activities, that might include “political campaigning, community service or improvement,” and further asserts that the school “should not only provide channels for such activities but build them into the K-12 design.”
The Social Justice Commitment provides several resources as “a starting point” for implementation. The resources consist of the writings of various “experts” in psychology and child development, who provide specifics on various stages of moral development in children as well as “goals for social justice values at different ages.”
Included in these resources are the works of humanist psychologists, Abraham Maslow and Jean Piaget, and Marxist psychologist Lev Vygotsky, all of whom have been credited with contributing to constructivist education reforms.
Other resources are recommended for creating a social justice curriculum, including The Earth Charter, a document that calls for global governance in the name of ‘sustainable development’ and Bill Ayers’ Teaching for Social Justice.
At the core of Amhert-Pelham’s Social Justice Commitment, as with all social justice reforms, is a consistent focus on the oppression of minorities by whites and the American “system of advantage.”
To ensure that all ‘isms’ and ‘phobias’ perpetrated by these “systems of advantage” are thoroughly understood and covered within the curriculum, the district provides in its commitment a glossary of definitions of various terms, such as classism, heterosexism, oppression, power, prejudice, privileges, and racism.
The definitions provided are a glaring indication that this district is led by people who foster their own biases and prejudices.
For example, “privileges” is defined as:
Advantages, rewards or benefits given to those in the dominant group (whites, males, Christians, heterosexuals, etc.) without their asking for them. Privileges are bestowed unintentionally, unconsciously and automatically. Often these privileges are invisible to the receiver.
“Racism” is defined as:
A system of advantage based on race.
Involves cultural messages and institutional policies and practices as well as beliefs and actions of individuals.
In the U.S. there is clear advantage to whites and disadvantage to People of Color as noted in social indicators.
According to Amherst-Pelham Schools, social justice transformation requires infusing “content curriculum with uniform and practiced socially just behaviors.” Students and educators engage in “ongoing dialogues” that will “systematically include: “Who am I? How am I connected to others and what are my responsibilities? What is my place in the world? Where am I headed? Who benefits? Who is marginalized? Whose interests are being served? How could things be done differently?”
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education contracts the Center for Collaborative Education to provide support in professional development, teacher residencies, effective use of data, educator evaluation, and other services.
The Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) is the Boston-based affiliate of the Coalition of Essential Schools, the progressive reform supported by President Obama and communist Bill Ayers through their work on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in the 1990’s.
The Obama administration recently awarded CCE a 5 year, $4.8 million dollar grant through the US Department of Education’s School Leadership Program.
The Coalition of Essential Schools also directly partners with the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District.