School boards, not state legislatures, are the right venue for opponents to push back against critical race theory.
This piece appears to be deceptive. I’m sure this was unintentional, but why not check the law? I’m no lawyer, but it only took 10 minutes.
The whole pieced is based on the claim that:
“The most problematic will proscribe very reasonable classroom discussions under the premise that they MAY cause a student to experience “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.” This could eliminate nearly anything.”
Well, that would be terrible.
But why not tell us which law this is? I only know because this is a rehash of NY Times Op-Ed claim that
“Tennessee House Bill SB 0623, for example, bans any teaching that COULD lead an individual to “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual’s race or sex.”
Again, that would be terrible.
But that is not at all what the law says.
Instead it says that schools shall not include as part of a curriculum the concept that:
“(6) An individual SHOULD feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual's race or sex;”
What is proscribed is not discussions that “MAY cause a student to,” but rather teaching students that they “SHOULD feel” discomfort, guilt ...
There is a world of difference between teaching that “whites owned black slaves” and teaching that “a student should feel guilty for whites owning black slaves solely because she is white.” The first is not proscribed, the second is.
The Times Op-Ed also cited a Texas law and misinterpreted it just as egregiously.
What we have here is an echo chamber, and ironically it is helping those who push CRT even though none of the authors favor CRT. Op-Eds should not be off limits for basic fact checking, and their authors should not abuse their platforms by failing to check their “facts.”
I would also note that I work with a number of parents in FAIRforAll.org who are fighting against teaching the simplistic, misguided conclusions of this so-called “Theory.” All are afraid of reprisals, though some have the courage to speak out in public anyway.
John McWhorter believes many of these teachings are racist, and I agree. If anti-Black racism were being taught in schools, and Black parents were being intimidated into remaining silent, would we oppose a state law that prohibited teaching anit-Black racism?
One problem I have with any discussion of the use of Critical Race Theory in schools is that trustworthy sources of information on what is actually happening—in classrooms and in school board meetings—are difficult to find. My impression is that most reporters for the “mainstream” media think according to the categories used by one party in the debate, proponents of CRT. This makes their accounts suspect. In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer story, opponents of CRT were portrayed as loud, disruptive, shouting. Proponents were described as clapping enthusiastically in support of “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” This begs, among other things, the actual meaning of the catchphrase “diversity, equity and inclusion.” Often abbreviated DEI, it comes with an agenda different from each of its component words taken independently. While opponents of CRT may well have shouted their heads off at the meeting, I wonder what else happened, and what got left out. More insidiously, a WaPo reporter on the CRT-in-schools debate used the word “Whiteness” in a lede as if “whiteness” actually existed; surely “whiteness” is a CRT construct. During the height of the George Floyd protests, I often felt I was living in a suburb of Lake Wobegon in which all the cops were racist and all the protesters peaceful. In this year’s episode, all good schools teach CRT.
On an intellectual level, what drives me crazy about this debate is the false dichotomy whereby any objection to CRT is presented as a move to conceal or obscure the role of slavery and segregation in American history. Arguably, CRT has no place in the teaching of history, which should be an attempt to understand, rather than an invitation to pass judgment. Children need to learn that difference. I would suggest that if CRT must be taught in schools at all, then it should be taught critically, as a perspective that can be evaluated, rather than a truth that can at last be told.
I feel I should open by saying that I enjoyed the essay and approve of both its attitude and its specific recommendations.
That said, I'll raise some quibbles because they relate to a lot of the discourse I see, not this essay alone:
First, "...and real harm has been caused by such practices, as in the Boston public school system where the use of unregulated outside consultants led to allegations of emotional abuse." You understand that "allegations" and "real harm has been caused" don't really go together. I mention it because of the general disdain for "due process" in our conversations and our thinking.
Next, "Reasonable people can disagree over how such essential topics [the unpleasant aspects of American history] are best explained to students...". Reasonable people can even disagree on how essential they are. In the context of the truly stunning ignorance of our graduates about every conceivable subject, I don't think that the one immovable object in our curriculum has to be the country's racial history.
Lastly: Like the rest of Persuasion's readers, I suppose, I see several news items and essays about CRT on a daily basis. I notice two constants: 1) No examples of current "structural" or "systemic" racism are provided. In about half the cases someone mentions redlining, which as far as I know was intentionally -- rather than structurally -- racist, and is no longer a policy. I'm not saying that there are no examples to give, only that I'd appreciate a discussion with a little meat on it, which leads to 2) CRT is described as an arcane academic theory. What that arcane academic theory *says* is never given more than half a sentence, and rarely that much. I read popular articles on Quantum Physics and mRNA where I come away knowing more about the subject matter. I hope I speak for many people when I say we're tired of the same thin gruel.
This discussion provides no evidence that CRT is taught in our schools. What parents seem to be objecting to is simply teaching about race and race relations and the history of race in the United States. This is sad because it indicates just how this history has never been taught; the older generation never learned about these issues and is now objecting to teaching these "unpleasant aspects of American history". I guess these parents would object to teaching about the constitution which does not give a slave full personhood.
The NEA and other teachers groups have embraced CRT. They don't believe in principles of reason or the right of the individual to make up their own mind. They believe in group identity and power dynamics. They're anti-American to the core. They've betrayed the trust placed in them and deserve to be opposed by state legislatures. I used to teach. It was up to us, as inheritors of the Enlightenment, to carry that tradition forward and vigorously oppose the armies of the night. We've failed, allowing ourselves to be overrun by leftist fanatics. Public trust in educators may not recover.
So the solution is for parents working full-time and raising one or more children to acquaint themselves with the politics, civics, and go to multiple evening meetings when they could be home helping the children with homework or taking a well-deserved break. This cohort goes up against paid employees without the same burdens backed up by the NEA and other national organizations which coordinate responses, provide Talking points and even visiting experts for these evening meetings? I would argue that’s not close to a fair fight. Society needs to protect its children. As far as I’m concerned, All hands on deck. All levels of politicians including duky elected representatives of state government need to help out these parents and all of us.