Serving Franklin County, WA

Race inequity taught in public schools

Widespread and irresponsible claims you may have heard that Critical Race Theory (CRT) and race discrimination are not taught in public schools are false. Last month voters elected many new members to local school boards based, at least in part, on those candidates’ announced opposition to teaching CRT in local schools.

On what basis then do CRT-deniers say the race-based ideology is not being taught in schools? They argue CRT is an academic theory only taught in college and law school. This claim is true only in a narrow technical sense. Yes, a stand-alone course is not listed in K-12 classrooms, but harmful CRT concepts are being woven into the public school program that is taught to children. This is because Governor Inslee signed SB 5044 in May, a bill that requires CRT training in all public elementary and high schools across the state.

When faced with this fact, advocates of CRT then fall back on the claim that parents who express concern are closet racists who don’t want schools to cover the darker aspects of America’s past. This is also not true. No one, including parents, are trying to suppress or deny any aspect of our nation’s true history. In fact, current academic standards provide for a full discussion of American slavery, the issues of the Civil War, the Reconstruction period, Jim Crow laws passed by hold-out Democrats in the South, and the later triumphs of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

Lastly, even a cursory review of the training materials the state requires for all public school boards shows obvious elements of Critical Race Training and the promotion of racial bias and segregation. These include the following:

• An “Identity Map” that requires participants to assign a range of color identities to students and teachers on the basis of race, even for people who identify as more than one ethnicity, or report none at all.

• A mandated “Privilege Walk” that arbitrarily places participants as “oppressors” or “oppressed” based entirely on their assigned race identity.

• Identity Cards that are assigned on the basis of race, sex and religion.

• Race identity material on “What Does it Mean to be White?” is provided from the writings of known CRT advocates Robin DiAngelo, Gay, Nieto, Freire and Ladson-Billings.

• The promotion of racist tropes like, “as early as age 3, children pick up [from parents] terms of racial prejudice.”

• Use of “equity” to determine outcomes based on race, and an effort to divide community along contrived race and ethnic lines.

The claim that CRT is not mandated in Washington public schools by SB 5044 is simply false, as anyone who cares to look into it will see. Beside imposing unfair discrimination on students, the CRT program has led to reduced academic standards and lower-quality education for students.

A reduced learning standard is one of the primary reasons over 55,000 families have left public education in the last year. The popular movement to learning alternatives will continue, as long as public schools use CRT to divide students based on how they look, instead of celebrating their talents, building up their character and training their minds.

– Liv Finne is the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.


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