Largest Teachers Union Promotes National Anthem-Kneeling Book, Other ‘Diversity’ Selections

teachers union reading list
Nicu Buculei, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s back to school, and while children are posing for first-day photos, teachers unions are firing up their usual tactics to see how far they can go this year. The latest example of agenda-pushing comes from a monthly recommended reading list courtesy of the National Education Association.

I have heard parents lament how difficult it can be to get their kids to read independently and develop a love for it. But unfortunately, the NEA’s recommended reading list is less about igniting a passion for the written word and more about pushing diversity, equity, and inclusion, among other subjects.

The list of books particularly for young adult readers (think high school age) covers some very weighty subjects from suicide to sexual identity exploration. A closer look at the list illuminates why this group of youth always seems so blue.

A Recurring Theme

The list from the NEA is a part of the Read Across America initiative, and to be fair, on their website, this list is geared explicitly towards diversity subjects:

“Let’s read and grow together with 12 months of recommended books, authors, and teaching resources that promote diversity and inclusion.”

Within the list, each month has a theme, and each theme has one book recommended for three age ranges: Elementary, Middle School, and Young Adult (High School). The month themes are below:

  • August: Create a Better World
  • September: Find the Right Words
  • October: Foster Belonging
  • November: Promote Healing and Growth
  • December: Activate Inner Strengths
  • January: Explore Societal Forces
  • February: Celebrate Black History
  • March: Bring Communities Together
  • April: Make Music!
  • May: Nurture Family Bonds
  • June: Support LGBTQ+ Communities
  • July: Cultivate Caring Connections

I took the liberty for you to comb through each book each month. Unfortunately, there is so much to unpack on this website I’d have to write 12 different articles to cover it all.

However, I highly doubt my editor will allow me to write an article on each month’s reading recommendations. So, for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to focus on just one of the books recommended for this month. So grab a cup of coffee and prepare to find yourself bewildered in all the wrong ways.

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A List That Lacks Inspiration

This month on the recommended list for young adult readers is Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal. The book follows two girls who are besties on the cheerleading squad who opt to take a knee for the National Anthem. 

However, the most alarming part of the book involves marijuana use. Within the story, one of the characters is caught by a fellow student getting high from a weed pen (vape) in the school locker room. 

When the other student promises not to tell on her, she says her reasoning:

“Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

I find it hard to believe that a teenage girl smoking an illicit drug on the property of her school puts her in the same field as bold female boat rockers like Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, RBG, and Harriet Tubman. But I digress.

Luckily for parents and teachers, the NEA provides tips and guided discussion questions for these books to help hammer home the book’s point and the ideology they are elevating. 

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Guided Discussion

My favorite bit of advice the NEA provides for teachers when it comes to a lesson on this book is:

“After reading, ask [your students to] discuss how an event can be interpreted multiple ways and how their experiences, beliefs, and place in the world shape how they view and feel about events and how they communicate them.”

I think this is an excellent question for high schoolers to ponder. However, I feel that if there was a high schooler like myself in the class, their answers might not be so welcome.

Let’s focus on the book’s central theme, which is taking a knee in protest. I spent the first 20 years of my adult life in uniform, deployed to defend my country. 

The flag means something to me, although it doesn’t mean everything. I firmly believe in the right to protest and that it is a significant part of what makes our country great.

However, I opted to stop watching many sports when players decided to take a knee during the National Anthem, as is my right as a citizen. My experiences, beliefs, and place in the world shape that decision.

Would my daughter or son in the classroom be accepted for that opinion? Unfortunately I don’t think the opinion would be accepted, showing just how little diversity and inclusion actually matters in today’s world.

I Cannot Live Without Books

I grew up in a home filled with books. Quite literally, every wall had bookshelves on it, and my home now is similar. In my experience, it takes a child finding just the right book to ignite a spark deep inside them that captures that love of reading. 

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I do not condone book banning; in fact, I despise it. As Mark Twain once said:

“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”

I also don’t think the list of recommended books would inspire much of anything good other than bad feelings and one-sided viewpoints. However, I didn’t like all the books I had to read when I was a kid.

I could’ve cared less about Pip and Stella in Great Expectations, and when my mother made me read Little Women, I thought my heart would stop beating out of sheer boredom. But those classics are essential to read. 

This habit of reading books, even ones I didn’t like, helped me discover other books that became like dear friends and shaped my personality today. Books like Things Fall Apart and Brave New World.

Reading opens doors into new and exciting worlds. Books can help you escape to a new place, challenge you to think about things you never have and lead you to your best self.

I don’t have a problem with reading these books on this list, but I do take issue with the lack of what this list claims to support: diversity. Diversity of thought. 

Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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