Organization Trends

The SPLC’s Readymade Lessons for Teaching Radicalism in the Classroom


We have a literacy crisis in America. Math competency is down for nearly all demographic groups. Given these facts, should teachers take precious time in the classroom to deliver lessons on “Digital Activism Remixed: Hashtags for Voice, Visibility and Visions of Social Justice,” in which students are taught how to be a part of and create social justice hashtag campaigns? Or a lesson called “The Color of Law: Developing the White Middle Class” which attempts to debunk the myth of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and the American Dream, which promises that if you work hard, you can be successful no matter what color you are.

The source of this political indoctrination is a website called Learning for Justice.

Learning for Young Radicals

In 2021, over half a million educational resources were downloaded from this radical organization and put into our nation’s schools. Learning for Justice also mailed out 600,000 copies of its magazine to teachers and districts nationwide. This is no small effort.

I first learned about the site under its former name, Teaching Tolerance, while I was still a public school teacher in California. I taught the English learners, and we were about to adopt a new curriculum, including several lessons from Learning for Justice website.

Learning for Justice is a free educational resource for educators with standards-based, easy-to-use, and timely lesson plans often covering current events. It is convenient for busy teachers to visit the site, print out a lesson, glance at it, and then deliver it to their students without much preparation. Trust me; teachers are always trying to find a way to save time. School districts like mine will also use the lessons instead of buying an expensive curriculum.

Leveraging Hate

But here’s the catch. Learning for Justice is funded and run by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Yes, that SPLC. Its website explains:

Learning for Justice seeks to uphold the mission of the Southern Poverty Law Center: to be a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements and advance the human rights of all people.

SPLC is known for its Hate Map. It claims to have identified and exposed over 700 hate groups in America, many of which genuinely have hateful ideologies. Still, on closer look, more than a few of these hate-group designations are dubious, to say the least. For example, it labeled the American College of Pediatricians as a hate group. According to the SPLC,

The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a fringe anti-LGBTQ hate group that masquerades as the premier U.S. association of pediatricians to push anti-LGBTQ junk science, primarily via far-right conservative media and filing amicus briefs in cases related to gay adoption and marriage equality.

​In reality, the ACPeds is a national group of pediatricians that lend their qualified voices to all issues dealing with children’s health and wellness. The SPLC has labeled them “anti-LGBTQ” because they have highlighted the alarming data and dangers of specific gender-affirming care for transgender children in America. “The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds), a professional medical association, calls on organizations to reconsider current protocols for gender dysphoric children based on newly published data.” That sounds more like a group of doctors with legitimate concerns than a hate group.

Toxic Education

Our schools are supposed to be politically neutral environments, yet teachers are receiving lessons from a far-left organization that considers a group of concerned pediatricians a hate group. The lessons being sent to teachers are full of leftist narratives and agendas. As someone who has always worked in what the Left would call “marginalized communities,” it is toxic to give children the messages Learning for Justice wants to promote. These messages include telling them they will not be successful in America because of the color of their skin. This would have been especially harmful to many of my students who were English learners from families that fled their not-white countries for a better life, including a superior educational system.

By taking advantage of the need for easy-to-use and readymade lessons that teachers crave and the willingness of districts to overlook the political messages in resources provided for free, the Southern Poverty Law Center has inserted its left-leaning narratives into the public school classroom through its sister site Learning for Justice. But behind the illusion of cheap and easy lessons, there’s a cost: time taken from academics and a crippling victim mentality instilled in the next generation.

We should instead stick to teaching the essentials of proper education. Perhaps then, if we spent some time teaching the basic principles of the American economic system, we’d see past the scam the SPLC is pulling on our schools and realize the old truth: There is no free lunch.

Kali Fontanilla

Kali is serving as CRC’s Senior fellow, particularly focusing on topics related to K-12 public education. She has 15 years of experience as a credentialed educator working in public and…
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