City Journal’s Max Eden notes that many heaved a sigh of relief when President Biden nominated Miguel Cardona to become Secretary of Education.

He’s at least described as “an agnostic” on charter schools and, as Connecticut Commissioner of Education, admitted that students would fare better with in-school instruction.

But that sigh of relief was premature.

Eden points out that Cardona’s trademark achievement was directing the installation of the first government-mandated ethic studies class in the country. Eden explains:

The Connecticut legislature determined that all high schools must offer—though students need not necessarily take—a year-long “African-American, Black, Latino, and Puerto Rican Course of Studies.”

Proponents of ethnic studies claim, reasonably enough, that it is beneficial for minority students to see people of their ethnic background represented in the curriculum. Stanford University professor Thomas Dee, who authored a study showing GPA and attendance benefits from an ethnic-studies elective for San Francisco high school students, suggests that a “high quality” ethnic-studies curriculum effectively stresses “the considerable cultural assets” of minorities and their capacity to achieve.

But “ethnic studies” can also denote academic indoctrination into the political dogma of critical race theory, which holds that all whites are oppressors, that America is an inherently racist country, and that for nonwhite people to be “liberated” or for white people to be “anti-racist,” we must interpret human affairs through the lens of identity politics and advocate on behalf of left-wing causes.

Cardona would not have the authority to mandate ethnic studies in all schools in the U.S., but as the most visible figure in education, he could make himself an effective advocate.

A key thinker promoted in such ethnic studies courses is Ibram X. Kendi, who is director of an antiracist studies center at Boston University. You might remember Kendi for his vicious tweet about the racism implicit in Justice Amy Coney Barrett and her husband adopting children from Haiti.  

Teaching kids entirely in terms of grievance and power and oppression is one way to ensure that instead of being inspired to achieve and take advantages of opportunities, they will end up underperforming and have chips on their shoulders. In a nutshell, ethnic studies can be embittering and defeatist.

But you know what else is really despicable about ethnic studies?

The lies, half-truths, and intellectual sloppiness.

Ethnic studies inculcates ignorance. Ethnic studies doesn’t teach history or help people learn to think and gather information about the world. It is the opposite of education.

To show you what I mean, here is a selection from a draft of a teachers’ manual for the Connecticut ethnic studies program Cardona oversaw:

The Moors are an excellent refutation of the false narrative of African racial inferiority. These adherents of Al-Islam were the battering-ramp [sic] that conquered Spain, Southern Europe, and parts of France. . . . Like so much of Africans’ contributions to world civilization, the Moorish gifts and enrichments have not been generally recognized. . . . [T]he most stupendous aide [sic] and/or help was the introduction of Algebra and the Hindi numeral system at time [sic] when Europe used the Roman numeral system. . . . The old axiom that nature “knows no color line is true.” [sic] Many of the men of distinction in southern Europe were describe [sic] as having “swarthy complexions.” The Moorish presence in Europe, especially Spain and Portugal, given their long tenure in these nations, their strident advocacy of Africans being sub-humans, during the Transatlantic slave trade must be viewed in stark economic terms.

The authors of the teachers’ guide don’t even edit for misused words and grammatical mistakes. The sloppiness and slanted history make you think the teachers who use this won’t bother with ensuring that kids learn to think clearly.

And the material is just not true. Moorish achievements are universally recognized, including their contributions to the art and architecture of Moorish Spain.

Doesn’t this farrago of lies and bad grammar make you want to take a battering ramp (sic) to this curriculum?