Colorado teachers union passes resolution wrongly claiming capitalism inherently exploits children, harms education

Colorado teachers union passes resolution wrongly claiming capitalism inherently exploits children, harms education

The Colorado Education Association passed a Marxist resolution declaring that capitalism inherently exploits children and harms education. The resolution declares that “CEA believes that capitalism requires exploitation of children, public schools, land, labor, and/or resources. Capitalism is in opposition to fully addressing systemic racism (the school to prison pipeline), climate change, patriarchy, (gender and LGBTQ disparities), education inequality, and income inequality.”

The teachers union claim that capitalism harms schools is contradicted by the fact that capitalist countries tend to be better at teaching students useful skills than Marxist countries. Communist regimes may be able to teach basic literacy, but they are very bad at teaching students to think creatively or do complex or mentally demanding tasks. Eastern European countries have lower IQs than Western European countries, directly proportional to the stultifying nature of their school systems. Albania, which suffered under the worst communist regime in Europe (which outlawed religion and killed most of its clergy), has the lowest average IQ in Europe, while Romania, which had the second most oppressive regime in Europe, has the second-lowest average IQ in Europe. By contrast, Albanian-Americans and Romanian-Americans exhibit perfectly normal intelligence and include many innovative people like John Belushi and John DeLorean.

The union is also wrong to depict capitalism as bad for children. Communist regimes have much higher child death rates than capitalist countries. Millions of children died in Communist China’s Great Leap Forward, an artificial, man-made famine. One example was when a starving “teenage orphan kills and eats her four-year-old brother” to survive during the famine. Communist North Korea suffered a famine in the 1990s that killed millions of people, while capitalist South Koreans right across the border had plenty to eat.

Teachers unions sometimes point to Cuba as an allegedly shining example of how Communism can improve an educational system. But this is both untrue, and ignores the fact that Cuba is very atypical: Communist Cuba received billions of dollars in aid annually from the Soviet Union, artificially propping up Cuban government services. Cuba’s communist regime did not give Cubans literacy. Cuba already had one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America by 1950, nearly a decade before Communist Fidel Castro seized power, according to United Nations data (statistics from UNESCO).

In 2016, the Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler debunked a politician’s claim that Castro’s rule significantly improved Cuban healthcare and education. In today’s Cuba, children are taught by poorly paid teachers in dilapidated schools. Cuba has made less educational progress than most Latin American countries over the last 60 years. For a time, literacy increased under Castro, just as it had increased under his non-communist predecessor, but that was due to the Soviet Union giving Cuba $4 billion a year, in a country with just 10 million people.

Cuba had about the same literacy rate as Costa Rica and Chile in 1950 (close to 80 percent). And it has almost the same literacy rate as they do today (close to 100 percent). Meanwhile, Latin American countries that were largely illiterate in 1950—such as Peru, Brazil, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic—have literacy rates of 90 percent or more today.

The Colorado Education Association’s Marxist resolution is a trimmed down version of an earlier draft that also featured a call to “dismantle capitalism” and replace it with a “new equitable economic system.”

The resolution’s hostility to capitalism is in accord with critical race theory (CRT), which is popular in education schools. The most-cited author in education schools is Gloria Ladson-Billings, a critical race theorist who “introduced critical race theory into the academic field of education in 1995.” She is the author of “Critical Race Theory in Education: A Scholar’s Journey,” and “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education.” She has been cited in articles by education scholars more than 80,000 times.

Critical race theory is a radical ideology that is hostile to the free market economy, equating it with racism: “To love capitalism is to end up loving racism. To love racism is to end up loving capitalism…Capitalism is essentially racist; racism is essentially capitalist,” says the best-selling book promoting critical race theory, How to Be An Antiracist. That book is a “comprehensive introduction to critical race theory,” gushes the leading progressive media organ Slate.

The “key concept” in Ibram Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist is that discrimination against whites is the only way to achieve equality: “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination,” writes Kendi in that book. Kendi is a leading “critical race theorist,” according to the leading progressive publication Slate.

Some K-12 students are being required to take classes in critical ethnic studies or critical race theory. Hispanic students in a California school district were forced to learn critical race theory. They hated it, reported Reason Magazine.

“Less than half of high school students in St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) are proficient in math or reading but” soon all of them “will be required to take a Critical Ethnic Studies (CES) course before they can graduate,” reports the Center of the American Experiment. “Course concepts will include: identity, intersectionality, race, dominant/counter narratives, racism, white supremacy, racial equity, oppression, systemic oppression, resistance and resilience, social/youth-led movements, civic engagement, hope and healing, and transformation and change.”

If state education bureaucracies had their way, critical race theory would become more common in school curriculums. In 2015, under Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), Virginia’s Department of Education instructed public schools to “embrace critical race theory” in order to “re-engineer attitudes and belief systems.’”

Detroit’s school superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, says critical race theory is deeply embedded in his school system: “Our curriculum is deeply using critical race theory, especially in social studies, but you’ll find it in English language arts and the other disciplines. We were very intentional about … embedding critical race theory within our curriculum.”

Virginia’s largest school system, the progressive Fairfax County Public Schools, encouraged teachers to apply critical race theory. The Washington Times reported that a “slide presentation” in 2021 “instructed social studies teachers in Fairfax County Public Schools that ‘critical race theory is a frame’ for their work.”

The progressive Arlington County schools have students read books by critical race theorists such as Ibram Kendi. Arlington distributed hundreds of copies of Ibram Kendi’s book Stamped to students at Wakefield High School. The book contains many errors and celebrates a Marxist anti-Semite. It also peddles conspiracy theories and is dismissive about Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass. At Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School, most students in 9th grade English were assigned to read either Stamped or a much longer book that would require more work to read. Virtually all students chose to read Stamped as a result.

The Loudoun County, VA public schools paid a contractor to train their staff in critical race theory, giving it $3,125 to conduct “Critical Race Theory Development.”

Under Democratic governor Ralph Northam, Virginia’s official “Roadmap to Equity” published by its Department of Education in 2020 thanked critical race theorist “Dr. Ibram X. Kendi” in its acknowledgments section, as having “informed the development of the EdEquityVA Framework.” Kendi says he was “inspired by critical race theory,” and that he cannot “imagine a pathway to” his teachings “that does not engage CRT.”

The final version of the Colorado Education Resolution contains faulty, inconsistent punctuation. It states:

1. The CEA believes that capitalism inherently exploits children, public schools, land, labor, and resources.

2. Capitalism is in opposition to fully addressing systemic racism (the school to prison pipeline, climate)

3. Change, patriarchy (gender and LGBTQ disparities),

4. And income inequality.

The original version of the resolution reads “CEA believes that capitalism requires exploitation of children, public schools, land, labor, and/or resources and, therefore, the only way to fully address systemic racism (the school to prison pipeline), climate change, patriarchy (gender and LGBTQ disparities), education inequality, and income inequality is to dismantle capitalism and replace it with a new, equitable economic system.”

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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