No matter how many times Critical Race Theory is explained, there continues to be some who argue that its origins derive from Marxism or the Communist Manifesto. There continues to be a notion that the purpose of Critical Race Theory is to cause division and make white children and adults feel bad.
In a debate forum on July 11, 2022, I asked a question to School Board Candidates:
“Give a specific scenario in which CRT is taught in a classroom. How will it be addressed in a teacher's lesson plan?
One candidate gave an explanation that CRT is a theory only addressed in graduate school. Another candidate stated that she has consulted with educators and administrators and concludes that CRT is simply not a part of school curriculum. The third candidate who is the only candidate to make CRT a part of their campaign and who considers himself an expert on CRT, provided a post from Facebook as evidence that CRT is taught in the school district's classrooms:
“I’m looking at a Facebook post right now. I won’t name the person. Let’s keep people anonymous. My granddaughter came home from a school in Manatee County. Told me how a teacher took them to a classroom for extra learning for math promptly stated saying how the white people keep us down. They want us in jail. They shouldn’t have done that. The teacher should have been fired pushing her agenda. Shame on the teacher for pushing her agenda. Shame on everyone for not knowing this is happening. It is real. I think I will let that speak for itself”.
This alleged and anonymous behavior by a teacher is not Critical Race Theory. The behavior described is called irresponsible and unethical behavior. I wonder if the alleged grandmother who was so outraged contacted the teacher to express her disappointment or even school administrators. As a grandparent it was certainly her responsibility and right to report the incident.
Let’s review some terms and definitions to look more closely into the issue of Critical Race Theory.
HOW ARE ALL OF THESE THEORIES RELATED?
Marxism and Communism may be terms civics students may need to identify and understand in order to compare the various economic systems. However, there is no pedagogy or method of teaching associated with Marxism or Communism.
They are all theories intended to explore and explain economic and legal problems or disparities:
Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings is an American pedagogical theorist and teacher educator. She is the former Kellner Family Distinguished Professor of Urban Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She also served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Ladson-Billings introduced Critical Race Theory to education. Dr. Ladson-Billings began writing about Critical Race Theory in the 1990s. The focus of Dr. Ladson-Billing’s writings was to explore the question: HOW DO WE EXPLAIN RACIAL DISPARITIES?”
On August 21, 2021, Dr. Ladson-Billings provided an overview and explanation of Critical Race Theory:
“From the 1600’s to about the mid 20th Century, our explanation or racial disparity was genetics. We literally said that one group of people is not as good as another group of people.”
“…in universities and across this country, we had all kinds of discussions, and even classes and programs in Eugenics. That there was this notion that Black people just wasn’t as good as White people.”
“Somewhere around the 1950’s, we began rejecting this as an idea and maybe coincidental with the Brown Decision that somehow the way we began treating people because of their race was not the way to go about it”.
“The thing that emerged around the mid 20th Century was the problem around racial disparity [as] the problem of opportunity”.
“So, we had the Brown Decision. We had the Voting Rights Act. We had the Civil Rights Act…We had Affirmative Action…We had a number of things that were put in place to provide opportunity”.
“However, each of those things were subsequently rolled back through legislation, through court decisions, that even though Brown was on the books, there were so many cases that came after Brown that systematically ate away at Brown”.
“So, we are still left with this issue: HOW DO WE EXPLAIN RACIAL DISPARITIES?”
“Critical Race Theory seeks to do does just that. It doesn’t seek to say that this group is better than another group. It doesn’t seek to divide. It seeks to explain a phenomenon that has been going on in the United States even before its founding”.
“…the theory is important at the graduate level. It is important for analyzing and making sense of social phenomenon.”
“Critical Race Theory says that the disparities are explained by a system…”
“…it makes sense of the ongoing disparities of outcomes based on race. Such as Assignments to schools; School Funding; Access to Enriched Curriculum; Discipline, and Assignments to Special Education.”
Education disparity is an ongoing problem throughout school districts in the United States. On academic assessments, African American students continue to fall behind their peers. Though Critical Race Theory is not taught or mentioned in K-12 classrooms, the question remains, what are we going to do about education disparities?
Will we allow political agendas and favors to keep us distracted?
Will we look the other way from those who argue that race is not a factor in considering the causes of educational disparities?
What will be the effects of being distracted and passive concerning the problem of educational disparities?
Racial disparities in education and the criminal justice system have persisted in this country since its founding. It’s past time to be ‘woke’.
“The function of racism…is distraction.”
--Toni Morrison, Novelist
BELL HOOKS already introduced me.