Monday, June 21, 2021

Grant Kinzer


Fossilized, or is it … Ossified


Getting to the Core of Things

By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Grant Kinzer was a beloved father, teacher, innovative researcher, professor, mentor, successful sculptor, passionate rancher, and an authentic leader who conducted himself in an honorable and fearless manner that provided an excellent example by which life should be lived.

            Excerpt from the Obituary of Henry Grant Kinzer, June 2021


            There is reason to believe those words are all true.

            The expanded message of the obituary went on to describe his life from the time he was a kid in Oklahoma to the final curtain of shutting the gate on the last cow in the last gather of his life just 39 days before he died.

            A whole lot went on in the 83 years between those punctuation marks.

            We knew of Grant long before we actually knew him. Wiping his invention of WIPE on horses in the horse fly haven of the Gila in summertime was our first encounter. There were cans of the stuff at the barn at White Creek, at the corrals at Gila Center, at the barns at the Double S and the 916s and everywhere horses and mules were exposed to that seasonal torment.

            The litany of his professional and academic tenure success can be defined both as epic and epochal. His long career at NMSU was both exemplary and productive. He didn’t just teach subject matter. He demonstrated what becoming an authentic leader meant in flesh and bone. What he did outside of any public eye bears witness to that.

A couple of stories come to mind.

            The first is a sale of a particular bronze. He had been dabbling in the craft and had decided to see what folks would think about his work. He had gone to a show where he set up to display a sampling of his creations. None of it caught much attention with most of the crowd paying tribute to the more grandiose and trendy stuff in the hall.

            At the end, he had put his stuff in his cardboard box and left with the belief his idea of art apparently didn’t fit the bigger arena. Walking down the sidewalk by himself, a big fellow called out to him. In the minutes that ensued, he sold one of the pieces, a quail, to the man who told him he had seen it in the hall. John Wayne knew art in many forms, and he thought that piece was outstanding.

            The second story is a bit more punchy.

            Years ago, I went up to Grant’s Carrizozo ranch on one of his works. I think he was 65 at the time. We had mounted and started our little juelte from the corrals on the west side of the ranch. He was riding one of those cross bred Arabs (that he seemed to collect with some degree of misplaced pride) from the east side of the state. About halfway across the flat, that little horse broke in two and bucked, and bucked, and bucked, and bucked. Trying to get to him to try to knock that horse off balance and get him held up was not quite accomplished when he was finally thrown. He landed hard on his head and left shoulder.

            Getting off and kneeling beside him just knowing he had to be hurt, he didn’t say a thing for a long time. When he finally did, he spoke in a very soft voice.

            Would you mind catching my horse for me?

            Several years later, I had been in a horse accident, and Grant came to see me in the hospital. His first words were equally soft.

            Cowboy, are you gonna’ be okay?

            All I could think of was that day at Carrizozo.

            Would you mind catching my horse for me?

            Fossilized, or is it … Ossified?

            Grant’s memory offers lessons in so many ways, and, in trust and respect to him, it will be used as an example.

            There is dignity in a man who conducts himself in an honorable and fearless manner regardless of the time and circumstances. That is especially so when we witness what went on in the world this past week. The display by the fellow who ostensibly runs our country was dreadful.

            In the rankness and the crudeness of what we observe in his actions, the events of certain World War II depictions have merit. The first deals with the evolution of leadership.

            David Stirling should be remembered for many things and not the least of which was his genius in creating the British Special Air Service, SAS, that changed the direction of warfare as it was then known. He stressed the need to seek not just physical robustness in like minded brothers, but to stress psychological strength, self-discipline, imagination, intelligence, and unwavering commitment to the group’s mission all with an individual’s perspective of honor and fearlessness that too few demonstrate.

            Brashness was to be reserved not for what one’s mouth uttered, but what one’s actions demonstrated. His model of operandi emanated from his belief that leadership left unattended becomes archaic and corrupt.

            He described the majority of established high command as being layer upon layer of fossilized sh*t!

            In words fitting for last week’s display, Grant would have been agreeing with him other than the descriptive adjective he used. Should the word more appropriately be substituted with ossified?

            Getting to the core of things

            Fast forward in WWII about the same time period as between the two horse wrecks, and Holland was starving. The Nazi’s had largely destroyed Rotterdam and were strangling the lifelines of goods and food supplies from all directions.

            There are estimates that the general population was starving to death with their rations of about 340 calories per day (that may become more pertinent in what we have witnessed this week).

            The Dutch, though, didn’t need any American handouts in their predicament. They mapped a solution on their own. It came in the form of the tulips they had made both famous and abundant. For their coffee, they reduced coffee beans to 12% of the recipe and substituted ground tulip bulbs, barley, chicory, and green peas for the rest.

            Further the tulip bulbs became the substitute for potatoes. They became the main ingredient in soups, and, when milled, became a nutritious alternative to flour. The nutty flavor of the bulbs only added to the adaptation.

            There was a problem, though.

            The germ core of the bulbs could cause severe intestinal issues. It was often manifested in blockage of the bowels. Swollen stomachs were not at all uncommon, but a simple solution was the answer and best explained in the words of an elderly Dutch survivor regarding the fix by his father.

            He passed (the offending) wind that was the longest and loudest (he had) ever heard!

            I know my dear friend, Grant, would have wholeheartedly agreed. Our country would do well to exhaust the same high level, corrupted emissions that now plague us!


            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “The first line of the obituary could have also included humble native son of the American West, and … friend.”


George Packer 

Nations, like individuals, tell stories in order to understand what they are, where they come from, and what they want to be. National narratives, like personal ones, are prone to sentimentality, grievance, pride, shame, self-blindness. There is never just one—they compete and constantly change. The most durable narratives are not the ones that stand up best to fact-checking. They’re the ones that address our deepest needs and desires. Americans know by now that democracy depends on a baseline of shared reality—when facts become fungible, we’re lost. But just as no one can live a happy and productive life in nonstop self-criticism, nations require more than facts—they need stories that convey a moral identity. The long gaze in the mirror has to end in self-respect or it will swallow us up.

Tracing the evolution of these narratives can tell you something about a nation’s possibilities for change. Through much of the 20th century, the two political parties had clear identities and told distinct stories. The Republicans spoke for those who wanted to get ahead, and the Democrats spoke for those who wanted a fair shake. Republicans emphasized individual enterprise, and Democrats emphasized social solidarity, eventually including Black people and abandoning the party’s commitment to Jim Crow. But, unlike today, the two parties were arguing over the same recognizable country. This arrangement held until the late ’60s—still within living memory.

The two parties reflected a society that was less free than today, less tolerant, and far less diverse, with fewer choices, but with more economic equality, more shared prosperity, and more political cooperation. Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats played important roles in their respective parties. Americans then were more uniform than we are in what they ate (tuna noodle casserole) and what they watched (Bullitt). Even their bodies looked more alike. They were more restrained than we are, more repressed—though restraint and repression were coming undone by 1968.

Since then, the two parties have just about traded places. By the turn of the millennium, the Democrats were becoming the home of affluent professionals, while the Republicans were starting to sound like populist insurgents. We have to understand this exchange in order to grasp how we got to where we are.

The 1970s ended postwar, bipartisan, middle-class America, and with it the two relatively stable narratives of getting ahead and the fair shake. In their place, four rival narratives have emerged, four accounts of America’s moral identity. They have roots in history, but they are shaped by new ways of thinking and living. They reflect schisms on both sides of the divide that has made us two countries, extending and deepening the lines of fracture. Over the past four decades, the four narratives have taken turns exercising influence. They overlap, morph into one another, attract and repel one another. None can be understood apart from the others, because all four emerge from the same whole.


If you have the time and the interest, this is a nice walk through the intellectual/political history of 20th century America. Sure, there are things to quibble about here and there, but overall a nice summary of the political doctrines that brought us to where we are today. 

The economy isn’t going back to February 2020. Fundamental shifts have occurred.

Heather Long

The U.S. economy is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic with considerable speed but markedly transformed, as businesses and consumers struggle to adapt to a new landscape with higher prices, fewer workers, new innovations and a range of inconveniences.

In late February 2020, the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, inflation was tame, wages were rising and American companies were attempting to recover from a multiyear trade war.

The pandemic disrupted everything, damaging some parts of the economy much more than others. But a mass vaccination effort and the virus’s steady retreat this year has allowed many businesses and communities to reopen.

What Americans are encountering, though, is almost unrecognizable from just 16 months ago. Prices are up. Housing is scarce. It takes months longer than normal to get furniture, appliances and numerous parts delivered. And there is a great dislocation between millions of unemployed workers and millions of vacant jobs.

...There’s dispute, among other things, about how many of these changes are temporary and how many are true fundamental shifts that will stick around for years and reshape behaviors. But many people agree, at least, the changes are proving very disruptive.

There are obvious changes, like the realization that working from home is possible for a sizable part of the labor force and the widespread adoption of online ordering for daily necessities like groceries...

 Then there is inflation, which hit a 13-year high in May, and is widely viewed as the biggest risk that could sink — or at least stall — the recovery’s progress...

All of this is coming at a time when workers are increasingly demanding more pay and better working conditions. They want more flexibility, more opportunities for workers of color and more understanding from employers of mental health and child care needs. Businesses are paying attention, largely because they are desperate for workers. There are an estimated 9.7 million job openings right now, according to job site Indeed. That’s a record, and several million more than the nation has seen before.

...The same is true of the rise of automation during the pandemic. As companies looked for ways to reduce the number of people in an office, hotel or factory, they turned to robots and telework. They invested heavily in technology, which economists predict could result in one of the biggest boosts to worker productivity in years...


U.S. Public Schools Lost 1.3 Million Students During COVID-19 Pandemic

Philip Klein

 The public school system in the United States lost nearly 1.3 million students over the 2020-21 school year, Education Week reports, based on its analysis of currently available state-level data.

That represents a drop of almost 3 percent, as unnecessary coronavirus-related shutdowns and destructive distance learning policies caused parents to flee in droves. The data show that the exodus from the system was most pronounced among younger grades and disproportionately hurt low-income students. As many of us have been saying all along, Zoom was no substitute for in person instruction.

“When you already have pre-existing issues like poverty and the digital divide, and then you shut down the one place that is positioned to help close those gaps, you probably see that most districts have experienced an enrollment drop,” Education Week quoted Sharlonda Buckman, the assistant superintendent of Detroit Public Schools, as saying. “Most of our children work best in a school building with their teachers with all of the assets that position them to do well in their schoolwork.”

Having kept children away from classrooms despite evidence showing that schools were not a source of widespread transmission, officials now want to spend more money to try to deal with the resulting damage:

Catching students up academically also won’t come cheap, according to administrators. Students will need smaller classes to catch up and a plethora of mental health services after being holed up inside their homes for months at a time with little healthy social interaction.

As schools plan for the summer, they are adding in mental health support for students to start this recovery process. In April, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced a plan to hire 500 new social workers to screen students for pandemic-related trauma.

It should also be noted that President Biden’s budget request included a proposal for more funding to deal with the mental health effects of school closures.

National Review

Severe heat and drought the hallmarks of a changing west


LAKE OROVILLE, Calif. – The work had to be done quickly as water vanished to vapor in the early summer heat. Hauling giant houseboats, some 50 to 60 feet long, from this lake became urgent just a few weeks ago.

In all, the Oroville Lake Marinas company removed 130 houseboats; floating recreation palaces such as the Monte-Carol and La Bella Vita now sit in a parking lot on stacks of pasteboard props. The lot stands where the lake’s high water mark would usually be — 900 feet. It is now 700 feet and falling fast.

The man-made lake, which helps to irrigate thousands of acres of crops through the elaborate State Water Project, is now so low that it is impossible for the marina to remove more of the large boats even as dun-colored islands begin to pop up. The launch ramp no longer reaches the water, which will keep disappearing amid a summer of record heat, including the “mega-heat wave” currently scorching much of the West.

“I’ve seen it like this before but only at the end of summer, never this early,” said Aaron Wright, the area’s public safety chief who has worked in and around Lake Oroville — the state’s second-largest reservoir — for that last eight years. “This low will be historic.”

Much of the American West , from parched Northern California through Arizona and New Mexico, is drying out at a record pace.

The onset of this severe drought was far quicker than previous ones — the result of a meager Sierra Nevada snowpack and early seasonal heat that evaporated the runoff needed to fill the reservoirs and rivers.


A lengthy coverage of the issues by the Washington Post.

The American West is drying out. Things will get ugly

The incredible pictures of a depleted Lake Mead, on the Nevada-Arizona border, illustrate the effects of drought brought on by climate change.

Later this year, the US government will almost certainly declare the first-ever water shortage along the Colorado River. Maps show more than a quarter of the US is in "exceptional drought," underscoring the scope of a decades-long dry-out.
Stories are popping up across the West of possible rationing, coming restrictions and looming standoffs between farmers and the government over the most precious natural resource.
Restrictions. States like Arizona and Nevada are almost guaranteed to have their water allotment from the Colorado River cut back, which through a complicated drought contingency tier system agreed to by states in 2019 will affect farmers first. But the warning signs are there for urban areas and surrounding states to conserve and evolve.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, served by a different water system, residents are being asked to reduce water usage by 15% compared to 2019. Houseboats were removed from the state's second-largest reservoir because the water level fell so low. The hydropower plant at the same reservoir may be forced offline for the first time because of low water.
    Standoff. To the north, there's a sharp disagreement in Oregon between farmers cut off from water to irrigate their potatoes and federal officials trying to save an endangered species of fish.
    When CNN's Lucy Kafanov reported from the Klamath Basin last week, she did her live shot from the parched bottom of a lake that should be feet deep.
      The farmers set up shop in a tent outside the canal headgate and were all but threatening to break in and open the gates themselves, like they did 20 years ago.

      What makes a drought "exceptional?" It's interesting to look at what goes into these maps, which are quite alarming with all the deep red. The data is maintained by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in partnership with government agencies. They have very specific criteria that's unique to each state for delineating between "extreme drought" and "exceptional drought."
      The criteria they list for "exceptional drought" in California is not far from apocalyptic:
      • Fields are left fallow; orchards are removed; vegetable yields are low; honey harvest is small
      • Fire season is very costly; number of fires and area burned are extensive
      • Many recreational activities are affected
      • Fish rescue and relocation begins; pine beetle infestation occurs; forest mortality is high; wetlands dry up; survival of native plants and animals is low; fewer wildflowers bloom; wildlife death is widespread; algae blooms appear
      • Policy change; agriculture unemployment is high, food aid is needed
      • Poor air quality affects health; greenhouse gas emissions increase as hydropower production decreases; West Nile Virus outbreaks rise
      • Water shortages are widespread; surface water is depleted; federal irrigation water deliveries are extremely low; junior water rights are curtailed; water prices are extremely high; wells are dry, more and deeper wells are drilled; water quality is poor

      The Great Western Drought Will Affect Us All

      Llewellyn King

      The severe drought gripping the Western states looks set to reach into all lives in the nation and into every pocket.

      The unbearable heat for those living in the West, with record-high temperatures stretching from Wyoming to the Mexican border and from the Pacific to the Mississippi, will impact the rest of the country as well.

      Scientists have classified this monstrous baking as a megadrought. There hasn’t been regular rain or mountain snow in the West for more than 20 years.

      To call it a scorcher is to underestimate a catastrophe that has the possibility of reaching near-biblical proportions. This is big and there is no quick fix. None.

      The drought means epic disruptions, merciless rearrangement.

      First, of course, there is no water, which means much economic activity may slow or cease. Farmers won’t be able to grow crops or raise livestock. Food prices that are already high from the pandemic’s disruptions will go even higher.

      The electricity supply will be strained and may be curtailed because of reduced hydroelectric production. The 13 Western states get more than 22 percent of their electricity from hydropower dams, located mostly in Washington, according to the National Hydropower Association.

      In today’s world, farmers depend on electricity to water crops and livestock, milk cows, dry grain, and freeze produce.

      The first measurable disruption of the summer will be from breakdowns in the California food supply chain. Prices in supermarkets will reflect the impact of the drought on California, which acts as the nation’s truck farm. If you eat it, it grows in California, but only when there is water for irrigation.

      The rivers of the West are running dry. The reserves of water in the great dams on the major rivers, especially the Columbia and the Colorado, which act as the lifelines of much of the West, are way below normal.

      Manufactured goods from Western states will be affected if power shortages are extended and widespread. Wildfires will abound and have already started their annual scourge...

      Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. His email is He wrote this for


      Lots of gloom and doom here, but many issues to ponder.

      Rancher who led armed occupation of federal refuge announces run for Idaho governor


      Ammon Bundy, a leader of the 2016 armed occupation at a federal refuge, has announced his candidacy for governor of Idaho.

      Bundy, in a video posted on Saturday, said he is running for governor because he is “sick and tired of all of this political garbage just like you are.”

      “I’m tired of our freedoms being taken from us, and I’m tired of the corruption that is rampant in our state government,” he added.Bundy, who is running as a Republican, will join the GOP primary to challenge Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R).

      Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) announced her candidacy last month, after she and Little spent more than a year sparring over pandemic measures, including emergency declarations and lockdowns...MORE

      Friday, June 18, 2021

      CNFR: NMSU's Bethanie Shofner sets arena record in breakaway roping

       Friday night's breakaway roping produced the average leader through three go-rounds as well as an arena record at the College National Finals Rodeo.

      Lassen Community College's Grace Felton took the lead in the average with a 2.3-second run to give her a three-run time of 7.6 seconds. The freshman leads another freshman, Idaho State's Zoie Bedke, by three-tenths of a second.

      ...Later in the performance New Mexico State senior Bethanie Shofner tied the arena record with a 1.6. Southwest Texas Junior College's Taylor Lawson had set the standard just three nights earlier.

      "I was hearing from people all day telling me I needed to be faster," Shofner said, "but I wasn’t thinking 1.6, maybe 2.0. That was out of my comfort zone, for sure."

      When the time was displayed on the video board and her time was announced, the crowd at the Ford Wyoming Center voiced their appreciation.

      "That feeling you get when the crowd …," Shofner said, shaking her head. "It’s hard to explain."  LINK

      NMSU rodeo team welcomes new coach, heads to national finals


      Brice Baggarley fulfilled a longtime dream when he took the helm of the New Mexico State University rodeo team last month. The Washington state native who most recently served as the head athletic trainer at Mayfield High School in Las Cruces began his new role as head coach of the NMSU rodeo team on May 3, overseeing the men’s and women’s divisions.

      Baggarley hails from a rodeo family and has deep connections to the NMSU team. He was a team member from 2011 to 2013 as an undergraduate and later served as an assistant coach from 2013 to 2015. He graduated from NMSU in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training.

      “I rodeoed growing up. I went through the ranks of junior rodeos to high school rodeos, then college rodeos and amateur rodeos,” he said. “I also was a pickup man at many college rodeos while I was the assistant coach at NMSU.”

      Baggarley said his father, Daniel, who unexpectedly died in December, was an influential figure in his life and encouraged him to apply for the head coaching position before his death.

      “We dreamed I would become the NMSU rodeo coach,” he said. “It’s kind of cool to think my dad got to see me get the job from heaven – and I believe he had a lot to do with it." 

      Baggarley inherits a team that faced unprecedented challenges over the past year.

      For much of the 2020-2021 season, the roughly 40 students on the team were on their own without a full-time head coach but received support from their advisor, Donald Connor, and other faculty and staff from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Pandemic-related restrictions also made it impossible for the students to practice as a team.

      “Most of them are at home, and I would venture to guess that 99 percent of them are practicing in some way every single day,” he said.

      Their hard work paid off, and the team completed the regular season with a string of victories.

      The women’s team finished first in the Grand Canyon Region standings while the men’s team finished fourth. Three students Bethanie Shofner (breakaway), Jayde Wamel (barrel racing) and Vinell Mariano (bull riding) were named regional champions.

      Ten student-athletes also qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, set for June 11-19. The finalists include Shofner, Kaitlyn Harwell, Abbie Shofner and McKenzie Frizell, who will compete in breakaway roping; Mariano, Zane Tully and Bo Tyler Vocu, who will compete in bull riding; Wamel (barrel racing); Baylee Johnston (goat tying); and Jesse Hay-Smith (bareback riding).

      “The fact that they have the self-motivation to soar to these heights without a coach or organized practice is incredible,” Baggarley said, “and now, they’re qualified to compete at the national level.”

      Baggarley is hopeful the 2021-2022 season will look a normal, pre-pandemic season when the team returns from summer break in August. He and his students are looking forward to practicing as a team for the first time in more than a year at the NMSU rodeo grounds, he said. 

      For his first season as head coach, Baggarley’s priorities include rebuilding relationships with the community and establishing name recognition for the team. He will also focus much of his energy on fundraising and bringing back the tradition of hosting two college rodeos – one of which will be the regional finals next April. 

      “We’re looking to get back out in the public and get our names back out there,” he said. “The NMSU rodeo team is incredibly fortunate to have the support of Las Cruces community.”

      Baggarley, who still competes in team roping events, wants others to think of rodeos as family-friendly events – much like he does. 

      “There are great-grandpas who are team-roping at 90 years old and little kids who are in the jackpots at 8, 9, 10 years old,” he said. “That’s what I like the most about this sport – it surrounds you with family and friends, which is very rewarding.” LINK

      National park visitors – and money – are coming back after 2020 plunge

      After hitting a 40-year low in the pandemic year of 2020, national park visitors – and their dollars – are steadily returning, but they are still below pre-pandemic levels, according to new National Park Service data.

      Park restrictions and outright closures in response to COVID-19 led the number of park visitors to fall from 327.5 million in 2019 to 237.1 million last year. At the same time, national park visitor spending plummeted, from $21 billion to $14.5 billion.

      The same was true in Arizona where visitors to national parks went from 12.5 million in 2019 to 7.7 million during the pandemic, and spending – on everything from gas to groceries, from lodging to recreational activities – decreased from $1.3 billion to $712 million.

      “Calendar year 2020 was far from normal,” said Steve Sullivan, the Grand Canyon permits program manager with the Backcountry Information Center...MORE

      Thursday, June 17, 2021

      Teachers See Progress, Conservative Parents See Racism. The Battle for Public Education Arrives in Red America

      Ryan Mills

      The news that a new social-equity course was being planned at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., first started bouncing around Facebook early this spring.

      proposed syllabus was leaked online. Students who signed up for the elective course would “develop awareness and engage in constructive discussion about social justice and diversity issues,” it read. They would learn about “the intersectionality of gender, race, class, and sexuality,” and begin to “create an action plan for future social change.”

      Guest speakers were being lined up. The students would watch Dave Chappelle’s “8:46” YouTube special, where the comedian engages in a frank and explicit conversation about American racism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police last summer.

      There would be “required textbooks” – Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility – that for this class students would be asked to buy, with the hope that “these books will stay with you as a reminder of the work that we (society) need to do.”

      The battle lines were drawn. There were dueling petitions for and against the class. And as has happened repeatedly in schools nationwide, parents and community members quickly retreated to their respective ideological camps.

      To opponents of the course, it was apparent this was an attempt to inject critical race theory into the school, even if the syllabus doesn’t specifically mention it. “Anyone who believes this particular course is not critical race theory doesn’t understand what critical race theory is,” said Maggie McCluskey, a mom who helped lead the opposition to the class.

      To supporters of the course, the opponents were flaunting their white privilege and trying to whitewash American history. “Many critics want to shroud themselves in the European fairytale that downplays the role of slavery and racism in our country’s foundation,” wrote Bonnie Jean Feldkamp, a newspaper columnist and Fort Thomas native who in May attended a packed community meeting about the proposed course.

      The Kentucky case is emblematic of the cultural battles raging across the country in American schools, both public and private. While much of the attention has focused on schools on the liberal coasts or in big progressive cities, groups such as Parents Defending Education have noted that in many cases, like in Fort Thomas, the battles are raging in conservative communities in red states, including Utah, OklahomaTexas, and Florida.


      How U.S. Schools Became Obsessed with Race

      We have been inundated of late with alarming stories about the radical transformation of schooling in the wake of George Floyd’s death last summer and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. To mention just a few: We hear of third-graders in Cupertino, California (home of Apple) forced to discuss their racial and sexual identities and rank themselves according to their “power and privilege.” We read about a New York City principal asking parents to determine which of eight “white identities” best describes them—from “white supremacist” to “white abolitionist”—and seeking their commitment to “dismantling whiteness and not allowing whiteness to reassert itself.” And we’ve seen reports of an Arizona state education department’s “equity toolkit” titled “They’re not too young to talk about race!” which recommends that white parents “can and should begin addressing issues of race and racism early, even before their children can speak.”

      The daily drumbeat suggests there has been a violent leftward lurch in public education in the past year, but is it really something new? Critical race theory and “anti-racism” came to dominate K–12 education in two ways: gradually, then suddenly.

      From the nation’s founding through the mid-19th century, education theorists from Benjamin Rush to Horace Mann hewed to the notion that a republic cannot long remain ignorant and free—hence the need for free and universal public education. From these founding ideals of citizen-making, Americans drifted over time to see education as serving chiefly private purposes, even if it also advances the commonweal. We expect schools to help our children get along with others and prepare academically for college and career, and to otherwise shepherd them toward a fruitful adult life. But as a profession, education has a long history of seeing schools as agencies to promote whatever was on the mind of “progressive” reformers of the era—from abolition, temperance, and turning immigrants into assimilated English-speaking citizens over a century ago, to promoting bilingualism and raising awareness of climate change more recently. As the education-reform veteran Chester E. Finn Jr. observes, “schools have long seemed like a swell place for adult causes to try to enlist kids.”