U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik is openly accusing New York’s public school system of using federal funding to force “radical and racist” teachings upon its pupils. This, of course, is the latest salvo in the GOP’s nonstop campaign against the make-pretend crisis of critical race theory in the classroom.
As a state public school teacher, I can confidently say CRT is not taught in any classroom I’ve ever been a part of. Responding to Stefanik’s claim, NYS Education Commissioner Betty Rosa said, “As frequently indicated, the state Education Department does not provide critical race theory. It does, however, provide critical thinking. This allows our children to distinguish fact from opinion, achieve deeper understanding. [Stefanik’s] accusation — whether intentional or negligent — is disappointing. What lesson are we teaching our children when a U.S. representative traffics in conspiracies — and conflates opinions with fact?”
Stefanik’s rhetoric against New York schools makes educators like me a target to extremists. And Stefanik has an ugly history with this sort of thing.
Earlier this year, Stefanik accused a public school in Mayfield of putting an educator on leave because that educator expressed anti-mask sentiments on social media. The administration denied this, saying in part, “the district would not put someone on leave for posting their personal opinion about the mask mandate on social media.”
Then Stefanik inserted herself into the story, claiming the teacher was disciplined for posting one of Stefanik’s Facebook posts about the issue. The school called Stefanik’s statement(s) “misleading and inaccurate,” and Stefanik called for the “resignation of any and all administrators who made this wrongful determination.”
There is zero evidence this happened as Stefanik describes.
Stefanik routinely weaponizes far-right dog whistles and bald-faced lies to manufacture outrage. It’s the most irresponsible thing an elected official can do, but Elise never misses a beat.
To watch Stefanik use her Ivy League education to hoodwink people who don’t know better is a grave betrayal. And she doesn’t care! Her road through Washington is paved with the carcasses of angry, easily manipulated constituents.
Generating sound bites is the name of the game; I get that. But Stefanik’s sound bites are too frequently fodder for anger and violence — see the mass shooting in Buffalo on May 14 for evidence of that.
Sadly, though, peddling such fiction has become Stefanik’s bread and butter. And if a few bodies have to hit the floor, so be it.