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Report Searches for “Wokeness” Terminology to Justify Deregulated School Choice

BOULDER, CO (January 24, 2023)—In one of the more unusual reports NEPC has ever reviewed, Heritage Foundation authors recently argued for school-choice deregulation by comparing the amount of “wokeness” terminology in parent/student handbooks in U.S. charter schools with the level of charter school regulation in their states.

Christine Sleeter of California State University Monterey Bay and T. Jameson Brewer of the University of North Georgia reviewed Empowering Parents with School Choice Reduces Wokeism in Education and found significant flaws in reasoning, even beyond the report’s disconcerting premise.

The Heritage report finds that increased manifestations of “woke” terminology are associated with higher state levels of charter school regulation. On this basis, the report concludes that while charter schools represent a safe space away from “woke indoctrination” in public schools, further deregulation and less bureaucracy will allow the charter sector to truly respond to parent desires to avoid “leftist” curriculum.

Notwithstanding its provocative thesis, apparently intended to tap into current turmoil, the report has at least five significant weaknesses. It assumes that parent/student handbooks are good proxies for curriculum; it completely ignores the diversity of parents and relevant research about what large proportions of parents actually want; it conflates correlation with causation; it relies on undefined conceptions of what constitutes “wokeness”; and it possibly uses cherry-picked data and methods that suit ideological bias.

These shortcomings render the report useless for understanding or developing policy. Instead, the report serves merely as an example of strategically employing dog whistles and fear, embedded in shoddy methodology for the sole purpose of affirming a solution (school choice) in search of a problem (“wokeness”).

Find the review, by Christine Sleeter and T. Jameson Brewer, at:

Find Empowering Parents with School Choice Reduces Wokeism in Education, written by Jay P. Greene and Ian S. Kingsbury and published by the Heritage Foundation, at:

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