Anti-Defamation League launches review of education content after Fox News Digital investigation

Bill Jacobson, the founder of Legal Insurrection, said the ADL's lesson plans 'reflect how ADL has lost its way'

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The Anti-Defamation League announced in a statement that the organization is reviewing its education content after a Fox News Digital investigation into the curriculum it offers to teachers and students.

A Fox News Digital investigation found that the ADL — which was originally founded more than 100 years ago to combat the anti-Semitic defamation of American Jews — included concepts from critical race theory (CRT) as well as far-left ideas within its education wing.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, an ADL spokesperson stated that they don't teach critical race theory but admitted how some of their curriculum materials are "misaligned" with their values:

CRITICAL RACE THEORY CURRICULUM IN K-12 SCHOOLS IS GOING 'HORRIBLY WRONG,' TEACHERS SAY

"ADL is guided by a mission statement that was written when the organization was founded in 1913: our purpose is to ‘stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.’ This mission compels us to fight antisemitism and all forms of bigotry and prejudice, from virulent anti-Zionism to vicious xenophobia. In service to our mission, we have developed anti-bias and anti-hate education programs over the past four decades. These programs are designed to educate students and help them confront hate. We are proud we have helped millions of children across America learn to challenge bias, discrimination, and hate against all people.

We do not teach Critical Race Theory, period.

That said, we are far from perfect and clearly there is content among our curricular materials that is misaligned with ADL’s values and strategy. We intend to address this issue immediately and openly. We are moving to launch a thorough review of our education content. We will review the findings and implement a process to update them appropriately and expeditiously. We will get this right."

Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League CEO and national director, speaks at the Anti-Defamation League National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., on June 4, 2019.

Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League CEO and national director, speaks at the Anti-Defamation League National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., on June 4, 2019. (Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The reach of the ADL's education wing is expansive. According to the ADL's website, in 2021, more than 46,000 educators participated in its anti-bias training and 4.8 million K-12 students were reached through its education tools and programs.

Districts around the country pay the ADL's World of a Difference Institute Training Program tens of thousands of dollars for its anti-bias training. For example, Fox News Digital previously reported that the Clark County School District in Nevada agreed to pay the ADL $75,000 over three years for "anti-bias professional learning for students and staff." In California, a district that proposed the implementation of the program met backlash from parents who accused it of peddling CRT.

The information from this article was found in the ADL Education's lesson plans, which are available online for teachers to voluntarily use. 

Critical Race Theory 

ADL Education states its goal is to provide education tools to "help people of all ages challenge bias, discrimination and systems of oppression."

Its "Education Glossary Terms," which the ADL said it used in anti-bias programs, addressed "intersectionality," a term coined by a critical race theorist named Kimberlé Crenshaw. Intersectionality holds that a person who is in various oppressed categories — for example, someone who is gay and a person of color — can be marginalized by multiple systems "simultaneously." Fox News Digital found that Crenshaw's theory on intersectionality was included in an ADL lesson plan from 2020 on women's rights.

Kimberlé Crenshaw

Kimberlé Crenshaw (YouTube/Screenshot)

Also included in the lesson was a link to an ADL post praising the Women's March, a left-wing movement led by some activists riddled with accusations of anti-Semitism.

"Have young people reflect upon the Women’s March as well as other examples of social activism throughout the years, using an intersectionality approach," the ADL said in a post.

The ADL's post about "Engaging Young People in Conversations about Race and Racism" contained "key elements of critical race theory," Legal Insurrection founder Bill Jacobson said.

The article discussed how the "flip side of white privilege is structural racism, which oppresses and marginalizes people of color through societal institutions like education, law enforcement, voting, employment and other systems" and encouraged teachers to show MTV's documentary "White People" to students.

The ADL's post on discussing the topic of racism with young people included "key elements of critical race theory," according to Bill Jacobson, the founder of Legal insurrection.

The ADL's post on discussing the topic of racism with young people included "key elements of critical race theory," according to Bill Jacobson, the founder of Legal insurrection. (iStock)

"Those concepts are accepted as fact as a starting point rather than open to debate. There are no counter-arguments presented," Jacobson told Fox News Digital about the lesson plans he reviewed. "These lesson plans … reflect how ADL has lost its way. It substitutes racial justice dogma and ideology for fact-based analysis. This is not education, it's manipulation."

ADL's lesson plan called "Power and Privilege" included an exercise to help students identify their White privilege. One of the "privilege statements" included, "When I wear a hoodie, headphones or my pants sagging, no one says or thinks I’m dangerous."

According to the ADL, denying one's privilege is a "biased attitude."

The ADL included an article by Peggy McIntosh called "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" within the lesson plan. The article indicated that White women are "justly seen as oppressive" and said they "enjoy unearned skin privilege."

Peggy McIntosh wrote an article called "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," which suggests some people have "unearned skin privilege."

Peggy McIntosh wrote an article called "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," which suggests some people have "unearned skin privilege." (YouTube/Screenshot)

"Many, perhaps most, of our white students in the U.S. think that racism doesn't affect them because they are not people of color, they do not see 'whiteness' as a racial identity," the article said.

The article lamented that White students are not taught in schools to see themselves as "an oppressor," a "participant in a damaged culture" and "unfairly advantaged."

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On its website, the ADL suggested educators and/or parents introduce "Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness" to children. The book stated that racism "is a White person's problem." The author, Anastasia Higginbotham, described the purpose of the book to The Atlantic.

Oregon's Department of Education is funding an anti-racist fellowship. It will cost taxpayers nearly $2 million.

Oregon's Department of Education is funding an anti-racist fellowship. It will cost taxpayers nearly $2 million. (iStock)

The Atlantic summed up Higginbotham's argument as follows: "She argues that, at the earliest possible age, white kids should be taught to identify whiteness as the root of racial injustice so that they can reject the pervasive racism that they would otherwise embody."

"Understanding the truth takes courage, especially the truth about your own people, your own family," Higginbotham wrote in her book. "In the United States of America, White people have committed outrageous crimes against Black people for 400 years."

It also said "whiteness" was "a bad deal" and showed an image of a "contract binding you to WHITENESS." The contract states, "WHITENESS gets: to mess endlessly with the lives of your friends, neighbors, loved ones and fellow humans of color for the purpose of profit."

Reparations 

The ADL's lesson plan on reparations asked educators to "Explain [to students] that reparations can be made in the form of individual monetary payments to victims or descendants … [and] they can also be paired with apologies and acknowledgments of the injustices committed."

In the lesson plan, the ADL included a video and article from American author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has made several controversial remarks about race in the U.S. 

Writer and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates testifies about reparations for the descendants of slaves during a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 2019.

Writer and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates testifies about reparations for the descendants of slaves during a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 2019. ( Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Coates previously said that he did not feel sorry for the first responders who were killed on Sept. 11

"They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body," Coates had said in his book "Between the World and Me."

In the same book, he referred to "White America" as a "syndicate" designed to "dominate and control our bodies."

The ADL's lesson plan, describing Coates's pro-reparations argument, stated, "Coates focused the conversation over reparations on the need for our country to come to terms with the fact that the legacy of slavery has extended in our policies and institutions long after slavery was abolished."

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Black Lives Matter

A lesson plan on Black Lives Matter included a graphic New York Times video that featured imagery of dead bodies, people being gunned down and rioting.

A protester waves a Black Lives Matter flag during a demonstration.

A protester waves a Black Lives Matter flag during a demonstration. (Stanton Sharpe/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The lesson plan included a disclaimer that educators should use their discretion to determine its age-appropriateness of showing the video. "If students need to process their thoughts and feelings in more depth after watching the video, allow time for that," the lesson plan stated.

It also asked students, "What are some of the accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter movement?"

"Does their work inspire you to think about getting involved in activism on issues that are important to you? How so?"

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Gender Ideology

In order to "prevent gender bias in young children," the ADL said that educators should use "gender-neutral" terminology such as "they/them" pronouns instead of "masculine pronouns ‘he’ and ‘him.’"

A guide from the Anti-Defamation League for high school students included information on the treatments used to transition kids.

A guide from the Anti-Defamation League for high school students included information on the treatments used to transition kids. (iStock)

For high school students, the ADL guide and lesson plan on gender identity included information on the treatments used to transition kids.

"Transitioning is a process some transgender people go through to begin living as the gender with which they identify," the lesson plan stated. "There are some common social changes many transgender people go through that include … changes in clothing and grooming, adopting a new name, using hormone therapy treatment and/or medical procedures that modify their body to conform to their gender identity."

LGBT activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall on Oct. 24, 2018.

LGBT activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall on Oct. 24, 2018. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"What hormone blockers do is they basically turn off the spigot on your hormones to stop puberty from going forward. So, it's a puberty interruption; and what that can do is stop a youth from going through a puberty that is unwanted and give them an opportunity to sort out what adult body and identity they do want," a video linked in the ADL guide said.

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On its website, the ADL also recommended a book, "Julian Is a Mermaid," which is about "a gender non-conforming child," a review of the book, posted to the author's website, said.

Other books the ADL recommended included "When Aidan Became a Brother" and "Call Me Max," which explored the journeys of young children coming out as transgender.

The Anti-Defamation League was once a universally respected organization, but its bipartisan appeal hit a compounding decline after a former Obama official took over in 2015, said Josh Hammer, a research fellow with the Edmund Burke Foundation.

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He told Fox News Digital that the current CEO of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, is "a 'progressive' flunky and first-order partisan hack."

Hammer added that Greenblatt has "overseen the final stages of the collapse of a once-venerable institution into just another cog in the left's all-encompassing, intersectional assault on … the American way of life."

Fox News' Kelsey Koberg contributed to this report.