A recent Idaho survey found that Idaho Democrats and Independents ranked “Having a well-educated workforce and giving children the tools they need to succeed” among their top six concerns.
That issue didn’t make the cut among the Republicans polled, but “The teaching of Critical Race Theory” did. Among them, CRT ranked right up there with high housing costs and problems at the southern border.
Opposition to CRT is the latest Republican tool for undermining public schools and teachers. It’s also a blueprint on how they operate–claim a high purpose and follow up with laws that benefit few.
Texas’s two anti-CRT laws claim to remove teaching that any person is responsible for racist actions of others of their race. One sponsor went so far as to say, it’s “about teaching racial harmony by telling the truth that we are all equal, both in God’s eyes and our founding documents.”
The law removes current source materials on Native American culture, slavery and the Ku Klux Klan, and the fight for women’s suffrage from required classes. There’s some confusion whether inclusion of those topics is optional or actually forbidden. School boards are now open to attack if these issues are included.
The law bans giving credit for “political activism and policy advocacy.” So fourth grade teachers can no longer have students write letters to their legislators. Nor will students get extra credit for writing about their observations of city council meetings.
The law also requires that teachers remain neutral and see that varied viewpoints receive equal treatment. Some legislatures say they assumed this meant only on controversial issues, not historical “facts,” but that’s not in the law. A curriculum coordinator in North Texas informed teachers that they were to make sure “that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that…has other perspectives.”
What would be the “other perspectives”? That it’s all right to murder six to eleven million people because they are Jews? Or that the Holocaust never occured at all?
Are teachers required to present positive and negative arguments about slavery even though our country has outlawed it? There are Republican leaders who argue that Blacks were better off under slavery.
This neutrality requirement applies to room libraries. After reprimanding one fourth grade teacher for having an anti-racist book in her classroom, a school board required that all books be rated on whether they included diverse viewpoints.
A law that promised to promote “racial harmony” is actually protecting and promoting racism.
Another district cancelled a visit by black author Jerry Craft whose book New Kid tells of the feelings of a black student entering a mostly white middle school. It won the Newbery award, the highest honor in children’s literature. After serious backlash, the board did have a committee investigate and issued a new invitation to Craft.
A black principal in the Grapevine-Colleyville School district was attacked by a former school board candidate for “encouraging all members of our community to become revolutionaries by becoming anti-racist.” After the attack moved onto social media, Principal James Whitfield was apparently fired because comments he made in defense didn’t support varied viewpoints.
Scholar Vida Robertson of the University of Houston notes that these laws are evidence of the truth of the real critical race theory, which states laws and customs tend to favor a dominant class. “It was intended for parents…to make accusations against people who were offering historical facts or perspectives that made them uncomfortable” regardless of how uncomfortable their stands made others.
Republican leaders are counting on their anti-CRT drive to bring victories in the midterm elections.