When did public schools become Public Enemy #1? There have been so many issues over the last few years that point accusatory fingers at our public schools. To begin, here are a few issues that public schools have had to deal with.
- school safety after shootings,
- standardized testing and student scores
- discipline inequities
- vouchers and parent choice
- teacher salaries
- teacher tenure
Now the latest threat Is how to acceptably teach the ideas of race and racism. Enter Critical Race Theory.
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A New Boogey Man
Critical Race Theory (CRT) has become the latest way to demonize public schools. Many politicians have accused schools of “indoctrinating” students. They believe that teachers are promoting the idea that America is a racist country and white people should be ashamed of themselves for what they have done to people of color. Now many people, inside and outside of education, fear CRT.
In my 35 years of teaching, CRT was unheard of. I spent a lot of hours researching, trying to catch up on what I was missing. The research makes me believe that most of the people squawking about it don’t really understand what CRT is or its purpose.
Not a Public School Course
In an article from The JournalistsResource.org, which tries to help journalists l cover controversy, The author quotes Dorinda Carter Andrews, chairperson for the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. She explains that
“Critical race theory is not an ideology or a political orientation that assumes white people are bad; it assumes white supremacy is bad in all of its forms. It’s a practice or approach that provides language and a lens for examining racism at institutional and structural levels, Underlying this is the premise that racism is endemic to American society and that white supremacist ideas and practices should be dismantled.”https://journalistsresource.org/education/critical-race-theory-school-racism/
Janel George teaches CRT as part of a graduate course called Racial Justice in K-12 Education Policy at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. She explains that legal scholars devised CRT In the 1970’s. “CRT initially was taught in law schools but eventually was adopted in other fields such as education and sociology.” She believes, and so do I after doing the research, “there is some mischaracterizing going on here.” George says, “Because critical race theory has the word ‘race’ in it, perhaps [people] are intentionally equating critical race theory with anything having to do with race or the teaching [about] racism.”
Not in My School!
Some parents fear that CRT is increasing not decreasing the idea of racial inequity. Parent David Ryst notes in an article in the Daily Bulletin that,
These concepts are not unifying students, they are reinforcing negative division. They are not giving teachers proper training. A lot of teachers who are vocal with their liberal ideas are pushing those ideas on students. It’s a good theory to examine maybe at a college level,’ he said. ‘But, what they’re teaching here leads to guilt, shame and victimhood. And everything is viewed as oppressor versus the oppressed. I’m all for inclusion, but this is not it.https://www.dailybulletin.com/2021/07/06/critical-race-theory-stirs-debate-in-southern-california-schools/
Now states want to regulate how to teach about race, racism and slavery. But finding elementary, middle, and high schools that actually teach CRT has been near impossible.
So where does that leave teachers now? What is actually happening in the classroom? How should controversial discussions that are bound to come up be handled by teachers? Who decides what teachers can and cannot say about history? Is there really a problem or is this just politics to gin up the 2022 elections?
Listen to our take on this controversial topic.
Has your district taken up arms for or against CRT? If so, how will your teaching be different? How will you approach those conversations that you know will inevitably come up in class? Let us know! Write or leave us a voice comment here or go to Anchor.fm and leave one there. While you’re at it, we’d love it if you’d rate and review us on your favorite listening app. Your support means we can continue to bring these important discussions to you.