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A program called “No Place For Hate” (NPFH) implemented in more than 70 K-12 Colorado schools. Parents and our community should be aware of causes for concern—reasons to question whether this program is accomplishing what we think it is.

The concerns begin with the program’s requirements. At least 75 percent of students must sign a “pledge” for a school to get the NPFH designation. We’re told it’s voluntary, but some teachers are directed to repeatedly ask students who haven’t signed the pledge to do so.

Second, a school that implements the program must cede significant power over its day-to-day operations to an outside national activist group, called the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Schools “are expected to notify ADL when any incident of bias, bullying, discrimination or harassment occurs” and work with ADL to address them, or risk revocation of their NPFH designation, according to the NPFH Handbook. While schools shouldn’t tolerate these behaviors, do they need to hand over authority to an outside organization in order to resolve them?

K-2 students learn about the “Cycle of Inequality” and that racism means “the disrespect, harm and mistreatment of people of color based on ideas that white people deserve to be in charge and treated better.”

The NPFH program is right to strive for harmony and respect for all. But is the best way to achieve those goals to keep our kids hyper-focused on their differences, tell them those differences determine their identity, and suggest that their identity dictates if they’re a member of either a dominant or victim group?

It’s important for young people to strive for social harmony and to understand the impact of their words. But are we forming courageous, self-confident kids when we teach them to spot “microaggressions” wherever they look, and that their identities define their place on the “power” continuum?

Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University, explains that this approach is more likely to produce anger, anxiety, and hopelessness—traits that are rapidly rising among today’s youth. Conversely, if we teach kids resiliency and self-determination, research shows this “leads to greater health, happiness, success in school, and success at work.”

The core question here is “what is the purpose of publicly financed education?” Is it to make our kids hyper-aware of their differences and turn them into political activists? Or is it to teach them how to think, not what to think? Apparently, NPFH views the former as a primary purpose of education, and wants it to permeate Colorado schools’ curriculum. Is this how we want our tax dollars used?

Read more from Will Johnson's op-ed at the link below.

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Submitted: Mar 28, 2021