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What is Critical Race Theory in Education?

Updated: Jul 3, 2021

By: Sloan Rachmuth

Do you know what the terms anti-racist, “culturally responsive teaching,” “equity,” “white privilege” or “Social Emotional Learning (SEL)” mean? If you don't, you are not alone. But these concepts and pedagogies were ushered in during the fog of the Covid pandemic and now comprise the pillars of the state's K-12 education system.

All of the programs listed above share these canons:

  1. White teachers and children, particularly white boys, are especially advantaged in American society (“white privilege”).

  2. Black teachers and children deserve reparations to make up for slavery and post-slavery racial discrimination.

  3. The existence of a disparity — for example, Black or Hispanic children being underrepresented in advanced-level courses — is evidence of discrimination, even if no overt acts of discrimination are visible.

  4. Children should be able to identify as whatever gender they prefer or not to identify by gender at all.

  5. The United States is not an “exceptional” nation, rather it is a malevolent force in the World that has disempowered Blacks, gays, and women throughout its history, and thus, the country has never been a true or full democracy.

These views are now expressed regularly by North Carolina's Progressives.

During the days of nightly Black Lives Matter riots, Democrat Governor Roy Cooper told business owners in downtown Raleigh that since "white supremacy" and "poverty" exist, they deserve to have their businesses looted, burned down, and eventually closed down.

Days following the Governor's controversial Tweet, the State's secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen announced North Carolina's new race-centered public health policy. Noting that 34% of the state’s COVID-19 have been among African Americans, Cohen emphasized that structural racism in the state was to blame.

Soon after State Board of Education Chairman Eric Davis revealed publicly that he was beginning to understand his own white privilege. Davis - a Republican-turned-Progressive, (as so many Pat McCroy administration alums are) announced that North Carolina's public schools would need to be fundamentally transformed because America is systematically racist as evidenced by unequal outcomes between black and white students:

“The pandemic of the past two months and the events of the past week have revealed in undeniable clarity the vast inequities that are embedded in our society and the underlying systemic racism that sustains them,” Davis said. “Because our education system reflects our society, our schools are not immune from these societal imperfections which diminish the education of every child in our state. My colleagues and I have seen first-hand their impact on our students and have felt the anger and frustrations that so many of our fellow citizens feel. Moreover, some of us have personally experienced and lived with these inequities and racism.”

Perhaps most important, these Critical Race Theory tenants are powerfully shaping K-12 classroom discourse and education policy. Examples include the State's new Social Studies standards which puts Americans into categories of oppressed and oppressors rather than a society where many different types of people blend together as one. There is also the Department of Instruction's new Culturally Relevant Teaching model that trains teachers to stereotype children based on race, sex, religious background, and socioeconomic background.

The teaching program, which began during the early days of the Pandemic school shutdowns, is based on the work of Gloria Ladson-Billings, a former professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison who authored "Towards a Critical Race Theory in Education." Ladson-Billings claims that America's educational system is systemically racist, built on white supremacy, and that white teachers need to be "re-trained" to yield power to others according to skin color.

CMS Teacher Training

Under Culturally Relevant Teaching, teachers learn that should tilt every aspect of classroom instruction towards students of color.

In September 2020, the State Board of Education passed an Equity policy for all schools that mandated a shift away from proven methods for reading and STEM instruction to a Social Justice framework called "Social Emotinal Learning," or SEL. North Carolina now partners with CASEL SEL - a company that is rooted in Critical Race Theory. CASEL's program literature shows that the program trains teachers to avoid "White racial entitlement and dominance," prioritizes developing student and parental "critical social awareness," and cites problems with teachers being "middle-class White women." According to the NCDPI website, SEL also aims to train parents how to own their white privilege and to raise their children to become "anti-racist" warriors.

Judging from DPI's recent budget request, North Carolina schools are set to see even more Critical Race Theory (CRT) programming in schools. But the North Carolina Department of Education is facing a groundswell of parent pushback against CRT and there is HB324 and HB755 which aim to outlaw the race-based program and to provide classroom transparency.

The future of our state-based CRT educational system has yet to be determined.



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