Transparency implies a desire to be truthful. It assumes that the adults in the room have the confidence to calmly discuss issues. It assumes that where two people disagree, they can still respect one another. Critical Race Theory cannot stand up to that test because the more it is investigated, the darker it becomes.
The Attorney General of Missouri recently filed a lawsuit against the Springfield Public Schools for failing to divulge the documentation that affirms to what extent the district has been advancing Critical Race Theory. The AG’s office in Missouri states it requested any document that referenced CRT, a motion filed on behalf of parents who evidently had received similar barriers. More on this law suit can be learned from The Epoch Times or simply through visiting the AG’s website.1
Recently The Hill posted a story of a school administrator who was banned from the school grounds because he posted to the public materials regarding CRT that was being promoted to staff and students of the Indianapolis Public School system. According to the man the material posted was presumably “publicly available” information. So why would the school district punish their employee?
I have followed the CRT debate for several months. It is a tough issue to track because it has several aspects.
- Racism is systemic. Is it?
- White privilege – If you are white, do you think you live a privileged life?
- The 1619 Project – the founding of our nation was to establish slavery. Really?
- Classification and association of staff and students by race
- Safe Spaces that exclude white and (sometimes) Asian students
- Elimination of the grading system (because grades favor specific races)
- Elimination of standardized tests (for the same reason)
Parallel to the discussion on race is that of the place of transgenderism in our schools. It appears that these two issues coupled because of the worldview of the purveyors of CRT.
- A general disdain for traditional values
- Advancement of restroom usage based on a student’s own perceived gender.
- The autonomy of the child in deciding what gender they will adopt (no parental involvement)
From what I can gather, the range of CRT components that are promoted in schools can vary. Some school districts, such as the Columbia Public School District in Missouri, claim that CRT is only presented as a perspective on race. Other school districts, however, have radically employed CRT at many levels. Some school districts still have an open discussion on the matter, while others have isolated and fired employees who question it.
As you can imagine, if you are an average parent, jumping into this mess is not for the timid. What parents have been asking for is what school choice advocates have requested for decades – transparency. They simply want clear, honest answers. Some school districts are better at being transparent than others, and not being transparent has stirred up considerable controversy. The subject matter itself is controversial and school districts that have been smart have promoted open dialogue. Those who have not have compounded the matter by undercutting the trust parents should have in their school systems.
I have had frank discussions with African-Americans for decades on the matter of race. Is it systemic? You have to have lived under a rock to claim it isn’t. Slavery is about as “systemic” as it gets. Jim Crow laws and red-lining add to the pile of evidence. That is not the argument here. What is the big question is what do you do with this observation and how do you apply it to our current time and to your community? Those are hard questions.
What I see at fault is the methodology of addressing the issue. First, it starts with school systems not being clear on how they are advancing a discussion on race, discrimination and “inclusion.” This is a matter that should involve parents. Secondly, the language that is used is something out of George Orwell. One thing public schools have been protected from is school choice. If they had to compete for their students, communicating in double-speak would not be an effective marketing strategy. Finally, isolating people into racial groups and discriminating against or favoring one group over another is totally counter to the principles this country is built on. You can see it in the reactions of students and parents. It is interesting to note who speaks against CRT at board meetings. Look for yourself. Are they all white or Asian? On the contrary, all races are against the notion of dividing up kids by race.
It is a methodology based on deception, confusing terminology and the isolation of detractors.
It is unfortunate – because systemic racism is an important subject. We need to talk about it.
The 1619 Project speaks for itself – it is a lot of baloney. It’s like reading The Book of Mormon. It literally invents an historical narrative about the founding of this country. The fact that any part of this narrative is taught in our schools undercuts the intellectual integrity of the schools, the teachers who teach it, and the educational institutions that put this work of fiction in their heads in the first place.
In essence, as the list goes on, it is critically important for school districts to understand that when a parent or any citizen asks about CRT, provide an honest and clear answer. When a school teacher blows the whistle, apologize and stop surreptitiously advancing CRT. When a student mentions it being taught, admit to it and decide whether to defend it or not. Hiding the truth, as the Springfield Public Schools is allegedly doing, is not helping anyone. Censoring your teachers and staff is certainly not effective.
My concern regarding transparency did not begin with the CRT controversy. It began in the early 1990’s when I had children enter the pubic school system. I found it difficult to get clear answers on the curriculum being taught. While I never encountered controversial material, it seemed troubling that something as basic as curriculum could be so hard to obtain. As the years passed, we homeschooled and were amazed at the wealth of curriculum out there and it was refreshing to know in detail what your child was receiving day-to-day. When our oldest returned to the public school system a few years later, I once again had difficulty getting a clear description of the curriculum. As the years progressed, I noticed that curriculum evolved from the text book to photo-copied handouts. With a book, I could look ahead and see what was coming. With handouts there was no foreknowledge, only a reaction.
COVID and technology have conspired to expose CRT. COVID forced the students to return to their homes and technology piped in much of the curriculum through the Internet. Watching all this were the parents. It was not long before parents were expressing alarm at the content and bewildered how a political agenda could circumvent the primary mission of the school. Reports began to emerge of friction between parents and teachers, and then between parents and the school administration. When questions were raised, some teachers and schools responded by marginalizing the parents or the students. Some teachers and teacher unions adamantly stated that parents should not have the right to view curriculum. They gave the lame excuse that it was “licensed.”
It is understandable how teachers may be uncomfortable being literally filmed while teaching a class. Can you imagine having every word you speak subject to second-guessing by a parent in a class of two dozen kids? That is what happened during the lockdowns. Some teachers adjusted well, and many did not. But the most vital aspect of education is trust. How do you encourage trust through deception? Add to this peculiar situation the CRT debate and you have what happened in Loudon County, Virginia: angry parents, censorious school boards, sexual assaults unreported, teachers isolated who disagreed with CRT, teachers resigning, teachers being fired, and the election of a Republican governor and lieutenant governor as well as numerous school board members in a state that went overwhelmingly Democrat only one year prior.
All that because of a lack of transparency.
Transparency implies a desire to be truthful. It assumes that the adults in the room have the confidence to calmly discuss issues. It assumes that where two people disagree, they can still respect one another. CRT cannot stand up to that test because the more it is investigated, the darker it becomes. It is a world view that divides people by racial class. It labels anyone who dares to question it as being “racist.” It tears down traditional values and institutions. It attacks individualism and it attacks merit.
Propaganda is basic algebra. Take the individual and peel away their traditional values, isolate them from their family and their church, and confuse them with abstract terminology and redefined words. Detractors feel they are alone. Questioning the narrative is vain, if not dangerous. It is indeed ironic that CRT is less about race and more about control. You can see it in the eyes of the detractors. They have seen the Devil. It is like they escaped from a cult!
I encourage you to read When Few Were Watching. At the end there is an addendum that further explains the issues with the 1619 Project as presented by the New York Times. There is actually a 1619 Project that predated the Times publication which is a more straightforward look at the darker side of history in Virginia.
1 Link to the Attorney General’s site was broken as of January 8th, 2023. The URL referenced is an archived screenshot from the Wayback Machine.
© Copyright 2021 to Eric Niewoehner