By: Mark Glennon*

Illinois’ political establishment is far out of touch with the general public on the racial dogma now forced on students from kindergarten through college. Yet a stunning two-thirds of Illinoisans say they don’t speak up, thereby ceding control to an intolerant, extremist minority.

The proof is in a poll released last month that was mostly buried and ignored by the press. It primarily addressed what schools now teach as unquestionable truth: critical race theory, also called anti-racism or wokism.

Illinoisans don’t like it. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which commissioned the poll, summarized their findings this way:

A majority  of respondents  favor equipping teachers to develop core skills and competencies over the encouragement of  progressive  political activism.  Illinoisans  also  favor  a curriculum that  focuses  on “American founding principles and . . . documents” over  one that  incorporates  key  tenets of the  New York Times’ 1619  Project.  At  the post secondary level,  strong  majorities  oppose reducing police presence on campus;  support viewpoint diversity; favor a merit-based application process;  and  prioritize  reducing the cost of tuition over expanding  diversity  and equity  programs.     

That’s completely at odds with mandates from the state’s politicians and education officials. The Illinois State Board of Education recently approved woke teaching standards with its “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning Standards” for K-12 education, and the state earlier made“implicit bias” training required by law for Illinois teachers.

Among the survey’s specific findings:

  • Sixty-two percent of Illinoisans say it’s more important to expose students to a variety of perspectives, compared to just 23% who want teachers to embrace progressive viewpoints and perspectives; 15% were not sure where they stood. The view was shared by a plurality of Democrats (49.6%) as well as majorities of Republicans (78%) and Independents (69%).
  • Illinoisans reject a core piece of woke teaching, 1619 Project published by The New York Times, which aims to “reframe the country’s history” by putting slavery and its enduring consequences “at the very center of our national narrative.” Forty-eight percent of respondents favored a focus on “American founding principles and . . . documents,” compared to 38% who favored “new curriculums that teach children to understand that America is founded on slavery and remains systemically racist today.”
  • 57% of respondents said training programs should focus on making teachers better equipped to help students develop core skills and competencies, not on social justice or progressive politics. Just 34% said the priority should go toward teaching progressive viewpoints and social justice advocacy to help teachers overcome their own biases and build more inclusive classrooms
  • “A resounding 84% of respondents,” according to the poll’s sponsor, said that “all people should be treated equally on merit” when the question was posed in general terms. When asked to think about the college admissions process specifically, 63% answered that “all people should be treated equally based on merit, even if that results in less racial diversity at selective colleges and universities,” including 89% of Republicans, 62% of Independents and a plurality (47%) of Democrats.

The polling was done by a reputable firm, Eighteen92, which surveyed 800 Illinois residents.

That last bullet point above is particularly striking because it means Illinoisans even oppose affirmative action, and it’s affirmative action that is systemic in most of America, not racism as claimed by the woke.

Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising since even Californians oppose affirmative action. In November they voted overwhelmingly to retain their constitutional ban on affirmative action, which is another story that was buried. “The margin of defeat, 56 to 44 percent, was striking to students of political history, because it suggests that race neutrality is more popular now than when it was initially mandated by a 1996 ballot initiative that passed by a slightly smaller margin,” said The Atlantic, which did cover it.

Most significant of all, however, is that over two-thirds of Illinoisans say they are afraid to speak up on these issues.


Because they fear the mob.

Sixty-four percent of respondents reported that they stop themselves from expressing their opinion on controversial political and social issues “often” (30%) or “sometimes” (34%), with an additional 18% doing so “rarely,” according to the survey sponsor. No surprise there. National surveys, as the sponsor wrote, “have repeatedly shown that political correctness has silenced important discussions—among students on college campuses and in the broader marketplace of ideas.”

Of those who reported self-censoring, 22.4% said the main reason they do so is because they are worried about unfair criticism, while 22.0% answered that they are “worried about professional or academic consequences” for saying the wrong thing.

This must end.

Critical race theory is perhaps the most pernicious and destructive movements our age. It is a doctrine of hatred and division designed purposefully to stoke racial division, just as countless tyrannical movements throughout history have inflamed racial division to divide and conquer.

It expressly rejects the goals of color blindness and the melting pot, which have been among the most noble aspirations of America and most all of the Western Hemisphere. By asserting that race, not character, fundamentally defines all humans, it rejects, at its core, the most fundamental premise of our society – that all men are created equal.

Yet it gains momentum every day. “When I say that critical race theory is becoming the operating ideology of our public institutions, I am not exaggerating, wrote a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute this week in City Journal. “[F]rom the universities to bureaucracies to K-12 school systems, critical race theory has permeated the collective intelligence and decision-making process of American government, with no sign of slowing down.”

What the majority lacks is courage. Courage to stand one’s ground in the face of a mob. Courage to speak up to politicians, administrative officials and school boards. From that City Journal column:

Above all, we must have courage, the fundamental virtue required in our time: courage to stand and speak the truth, courage to withstand epithets, courage to face the mob, and courage to shrug off the scorn of elites. When enough of us overcome the fear that currently prevents so many from speaking out, the hold of critical race theory will begin to slip. And courage begets courage. It’s easy to stop a lone dissenter; it’s much harder to stop 10, 20, 100, 1,000, 1 million, or more who stand up together for the principles of America. Truth and justice are on our side. If we can muster the courage, we will win.

“I Refuse to Stand By While My Students Are Indoctrinated.” That’s the title under which a New York teacher last week published his case for why children “are afraid to challenge the repressive ideology that rules our school.”

Read his column. Find your own way to show the courage he has. Do not stand by while our children are indoctrinated.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints