On Friday, Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) introduced legislation and a resolution regarding Critical Race Theory. According to a press release: "The paired legislation, which includes a bill that would restrict the teaching of Critical Race Theory within federal institutions and a resolution that highlights the dangers of teaching CRT in U.S. schools, underlines the systemic racism and damaging philosophy within this prejudicial ideological tool."
In addition, @BurgessOwens will introduce a resolution on critical race theory in public education, arguing that CRT seeks to "create a hatred" of American institutions, "resegregrate" public schools, and "reinforce the soft bigotry of low expectations" for racial minorities. pic.twitter.com/eqlnNCgw7L— Christopher F. Rufo ?? (@realchrisrufo) May 14, 2021
The Biden administration is also incentivizing programs to teach CRT by prioritizing federal grants for those that teach it.
On Wednesday, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) introduced legislation to address this concern. According to a press release, "the Protect Equality and Civics Education (PEACE) Act...will prevent the Department of Education from using taxpayer dollars to fund its radical, anti-American critical race theory priorities."
The debate on CRT is also affecting parents and students at the state and local level. Gov. Ron DeSantis is certainly no fan, as Katie reported. Spencer also reported that Gov. Brad Little (R-ID) signed legislation which bans CRT in Idaho.
Many school districts in Northern Virginia are considering CRT as well. This includes Fairfax School District, which is the largest school district in the commonwealth and the 11th largest in the country.
The school district recently posted a survey for parents to take, "Revisions of the Controversial Issues Policy & Development of a new Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Education Curriculum Policy." Gabe Kaminsky reported for the Federalist that the survey was written by a firm in New York, which the district has a four year contract with:
Townhall sought feedback from parents in the school district.
Amy, a parent of two elementary school students in the district, approved of the survey and the concept, and emphasized the positive elements.
The survey was very easy, it took less than 10 minutes. I very much appreciate that the district asked about what training and guidelines staff may need to teach these additional topics. Some of our teachers may be well-intentioned but not have direct training on how to address race and identity issues so it will be a good thing to make sure we have district-wide guidance. I'm glad FCPS is getting community input since our county is so diverse. This survey felt like a good first step in listening to our community before making decisions about how to teach sensitive issues.
She also provided a follow-up email:
I think the biggest con is that it’s taken this long to address the need for anti bias training in FCPS. Because of the length of the process, including things like this survey to include the community, it will take quite some time to implement the final product. That’s unfortunate because it’s needed now, as our family has seen personally on more than one occasion. But we understand that public engagement and transparency take time and feel like ‘better late than never’ is true here.
Many more parents were less than thrilled, however.
Beth, another parent in the district, said she "took the survey and the questions were not clear." As Beth also shared, "I had a difficult time understanding if the questions pertained to 'current' versus 'future' or 'aspirational' instruction. Also, there was no option to be 'neutral' and no ability to self identify as 'multi-racial.'"
She wanted to highlight as well that the survey actually "informs" that they are updating the policy, rather than proposing it and seeking guidance. "I don't think the school district is interested in hearing parents feedback and I believe the survey was generated to simply check a box that FCPS reached out to parents for input. I believe the survey will be summarized in a way that justifies FCPS current trajectory," she shared.
Beth also shared her frustration, in a response that showed that she did approve of certain changes, but was hesitant to share her concerns:
This is a really frustrating time and the school district is not making these changes transparent or easy for parents to follow. I personally think some of the changes are beneficial, but am hesitant to express my concerns on what makes me uncomfortable. This is because, with Critical Race Theory, if you do not support all of it then you are labeled a "racist" "white supremacist" "white adjacent" or you have "white fragility" and are written off as a Trump supporter - even if you are a Democrat.
...The School Board meetings are not helpful. I wish the School Board could discuss the changes that are being proposed (er, happening), along with why they are important and how these changes will affect our kids' classroom experience. I also wish our School Board members were not so politically partisan, this is really apparent when you view their Tweets. I don't feel like they represent, or are willing to hear, everyone.
Beth also made mention of a private Facebook group where members have to request and be approved to be part of, "Open Fairfax County Schools #OpenFCPS." The group describes itself as a "Bi-partisan, 100% volunteer grassroots advocacy group for Fairfax County parents who support re-opening Fairfax County Public Schools and giving students the choice to attend school in-person."
One parent echoed those concerns, sharing that "I thought the survey questions were written in a leading way, and made it difficult to express any response other than generalized support of CRT in schools. I follow politics, so I recognized a lot of buzzwords and it was clear that the survey is intended to make it look like CRT has wide public support."
Another showed Townhall portions of an email sent out to school board members, which, again, highlighted these concerns, in no uncertain terms:
I am very frustrated at the content of your "Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias" Survey. The survey was clearly cooked to produce the answers that the creator of the survey desired or the person who filled out the survey disagreeing with any of the answers that they want will be dismissed as a flaming racist.
This survey is clearly a precursor to introducing the 1619 Project and so-called Critical Race Theory into FCPS schools. There is nothing factual about this curriculum. These philosophies are quite frankly hate-filled poison. The formulators of this type of brainwashing are obsessed with race, which is completely the opposite of the teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and other civil rights leaders. Countering hate by teaching more hate will accomplish nothing. Teaching these kids to hate their own country will also accomplish nothing constructive. It is reprehensible that there has ever been racism of any kind, but this country has done far more to right this injustice than any other on this earth.
I have already pulled one of my children out of FCPS because of the incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic and not following the science, which clearly has shown that in-person learning can be done safely. If you choose to move forward with this hate-filled curriculum, you will force me to pull my other child out. I believe that I am far from the only one who will consider that necessary. I strongly believe that children should be taught that it is the content of one's character that matters, not the color of their skin. I will not tolerate my daughter being taught the hate that is Critical Race Theory in FCPS schools.
I hope you will reconsider this initiative to teach this hate-filled ideology in FCPS classrooms.
Glenn Youngkin, who became the gubernatorial Republican candidate in Virginia earlier this week, has already spoken out against CRT at length on the campaign trail, as well as with Tucker Carlson.
When I'm governor, we will NOT teach critical race theory in our schools. We WILL teach accelerated math classes.— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) May 8, 2021
I ask you to please vote for me as your first choice today so we can teach our kids HOW to think, not WHAT to think.
Polling locations: https://t.co/1r3maR6rrp pic.twitter.com/tSBKotQ33y