NAACP Culpeper #7058

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Tag: CRT

“Moms For Liberty” says book about MLK violates new law banning CRT in Tennessee

While Critical Race Theory is not taught in K-12 schools in Tennessee, the law bans instruction or material that “include” any of one of 11 poorly defined concepts. A sampling:

“Privilege” based on race or sex

“Discomfort” or “guilt” based on race or sex

“[D]ivision between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people.”

Armed with this vague law, a Williamson County, Tennessee chapter of Moms For Liberty, a right-wing dark money group, filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Education. The complaint alleges that the language arts curriculum for second graders in Williamson County school violates the law banning Critical Race Theory.

“Moms For Liberty” says book about MLK violates new law banning CRT in Tennessee

In May, Tennessee passed a law banning Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools. The state is already seeing the ugly consequences of the law. And things are likely to get worse. While Critical Race Theory is not taught in K-12 schools in Tennessee, the

The Murder of Emmett Till

The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the Civil Rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.

Less than two weeks after Emmett’s body was buried, J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant went on trial in a segregated courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. There were few witnesses besides Mose Wright, who positively identified the defendants as Emmett’s killers.

On September 23, the all-white jury deliberated for less than an hour before issuing a verdict of “not guilty,” explaining that they believed the state had failed to prove the identity of the body. Many people around the country were outraged by the decision and also by the state’s decision not to indict Milam and Bryant on the separate charge of kidnapping.

In 2017, Tim Tyson, author of the book The Blood of Emmett Till, revealed that Carolyn Bryant recanted her testimony, admitting that Till had never touched, threatened, or harassed her. “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” she said.

An NBC News analysis recently found at least 165 local and national groups that aim to disrupt lessons on race and gender. The groups are largely reinforced by conservative think tanks, law firms, and activist parents.

The tension can be traced back to then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 memo in which the White House Office of Management and Budget ordered a stop to fund federal training on diversity and critical race theory. Around the same time, Trump sought to rebuke the 1619 Project, which culminated with the release of his administration’s “1776 Report” just prior to his leaving office earlier this year.

Those actions planted the seed for the recent education fight, and critics of the bills say the tension pressures schools boards and ultimately harms students most. It’s a battle that has invaded every level of government from Congress through local school boards, with conservative groups backing the efforts.

New Hampshire bill would require teachers to put a positive spin on slavery

Judd Legum
Dec 6

What is being promoted as an effort to stop Critical Race Theory (CRT) from indoctrinating K-12 students is actually a push to censure truthful information about American history. A new “teacher loyalty” bill introduced in New Hampshire would, among other things, prohibit “teaching that the United States was founded on racism.”

A reporter for WMUR, the ABC affiliate in New Hampshire, asked one of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Erica Layton (R), how a teacher could “address something like the Three-Fifths Compromise in the Constitution which basically invalidated the humanity of enslaved people who were black” if the new legislation became law. The reporter noted that’s a “racist aspect of America’s founding.”


Layton said that teachers should explain that the 3/5ths compromise was an effort to end slavery, which Layton said was “already on the way out.” The only problem with this solution is that it’s not true.

Scholars agree there is “no evidence the constitutional provision was intended to end slavery,” which persisted for nearly a century after the Constitution was ratified. It conferred additional political power to states with large slave populations. In so doing, it helped entrench the institution of slavery.

The same ahistorical argument was advanced by a lawmaker in Tennessee, Representative Justin Lafferty (R), earlier this year to support legislation banning CRT. The legislation is now law in Tennessee and, as Popular Information reported, is currently being invoked to try to prevent second graders from reading about Martin Luther King Jr.

Layton herself acknowledged her historical “errors” in answering questions from WMUR but continued to defend the bill:

The New Hampshire bill also prohibits “any doctrine or theory promoting a negative account or representation of the founding and history of the United States of America in New Hampshire public schools which does not include the worldwide context of now outdated and discouraged practices.” The primary sponsor of the bill Representative Alicia Lekas (R) told the Concord Monitor that this provision requires teachers to explain away slavery in the United States because it was ubiquitous worldwide:

Slavery was a terrible thing, but a lot of people don’t know slavery happened all over the world, that’s the setting you need to be teaching. If you’re going to teach about the founding of the country you need to teach it in its proper setting so you know what was happening in the rest of the world so you have a better idea of why people did the way they did.

This, again, is ahistorical. Long before slavery was abolished in the United States (1865), it was abolished in other countries, including Spain (1811), Mexico (1829), Britain (1834), and France (1848).

The ACLU of New Hampshire says the bill is “unconstitutional” and “builds on the disturbing trend…of erasing America’s legacy of racism and slavery.”

Teachers attempting to comply with the bill, should it become law, will be in a bind. If a teacher discusses the “worldwide context” of slavery on one day, can they discuss slavery in the United States without mentioning this context the next day? What about assigning a text that references slavery in the United States without including the “worldwide context”?

These are not trivial matters. According to the legislation, teachers who violate these provisions “shall be considered a violation of the New Hampshire code of ethics and code of conduct for educational professionals” and will be subject to “disciplinary sanctions.”

The opaque nature of the restrictions is really the point. The legislation is designed to chill honest discussion of American history in the classroom.

Putting teachers on a tightrope

The new bill builds on legislation that was enacted in New Hampshire over the summer prohibiting instruction on “divisive concepts.” The primary sponsor of that legislation, Representative Keith Ammon (R), is also a sponsor of the new “Teacher Loyalty” bill.

The law signed by Governor Chris Sununu (R) in June is more limited. It prohibits teaching “that one identified group” is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.” In doing so, it likely bans discussion of “white privilege” and related concepts. The language in the bill is based on an executive order issued by Trump which banned the use of federal funds to support instruction on “divisive concepts.”

Such concepts are not currently part of New Hampshire’s K-12 curriculum. The New Hampshire Department of Education says the law does not prohibit “the teaching of historical subjects” or “the historical existence of ideas.”

Teachers in New Hampshire, however, are concerned about the difficulty in threading this needle. Teachers told New Hampshire Public Radio that “students are always making connections to current events” and “making sense of the past by talking about the present.” A teacher does not necessarily have the ability to prevent a discussion on historic discrimination from touching on the ways white privilege operates in society today.

Such a discussion could lead to a complaint filed against the teacher with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights or the New Hampshire Office of the Attorney General. A teacher found in violation of the law may face “disciplinary sanction by the state board of education.”

A dark money push

The push for anti-CRT legislation in New Hampshire is not happening in a vacuum. PEN America, a non-profit devoted to freedom of expression, has identified “54 separate bills” introduced in 24 states “intended to restrict teaching and training in K-12 schools, higher education, and state agencies and institutions.” PEN America describes these bills as “educational gag orders.” Ten of these bills have already become law.

Last week, a constellation of dark money groups released a public letter calling for more legislation in 2022.

This year, ten states passed legislation to reject CRT. In 2022, state lawmakers should continue to protect teachers and students from bigotry and consider proposals that reject the application of CRT in K-12 schools…

The letter called on states to pass laws banning “any idea that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The Civil Rights Act of 1964, of course, does not ban ideas. It bans actual discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Court rulings extended these protections to sexual orientation and gender identity. The anti-CRT movement is misrepresenting the meaning of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to suggest it bans certain kinds of discussions about racism and discrimination.

According to the signatories of the letter, “America should be defined as a nation that offers freedom and opportunity for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin.” In other words, teachers should be required to define America as a place where racism and discrimination are no longer a salient factor in people’s lives.

The letter was released by the Heritage Foundation and signed by representatives from the Manhattan Institute, the Claremont Institute, Parents Defending Education, the Goldwater Institute, and Independent Women’s Voice. One thing these institutions all have in common is that they do not disclose their donors.

About Critical Race Theory

 

To Our Community:

In light of recent national and local conversations and controversy regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT), NAACP-Culpeper would like to offer support, guidance, and clarity to our community. Below you will find information regarding CRT as well as teaching practices that are centered on equity.

 

What is CRT?

CRT is an academic framework that examines the impact of systemic racism on American society. It is not taught in K-12 schools because it is not developmentally appropriate to do so; it is used in fields of professional and academic research. Some of the underpinning assumptions of CRT, however, can already be found in curricula in many schools. In recent months, CRT has become a catch-all term for school programs (teacher education, curriculum, and more) that focus on anti-racist practices, social justice, and/or diversity and equity.

Is CRT new?

No. CRT became widely read and used beginning in the 1970s in legal research. The practices that are being inaccurately described as CRT (anti-racist education, for example) are also not new. Classroom conversations that include discussions about race and racism are also not new (although it is important to note that this is not CRT). In fact, even early childhood curricula have included discussions about skin color and racial identity for many decades. Since race is a part of people’s identities (just like where they were born or what holidays they celebrate or how their families are structured), conversations about race happen all the time in schools. Additionally, it is easy to find examples of discussions about race that occur in history or English classes for older students, since studies about history and English are studies about individuals and groups of people. When you study people, you also will encounter issues of race and equity. It is incredibly difficult (not to mention bad practice), for example, to teach the American Civil War without discussing race.

So what does teaching for equity look like?

Some of the objections to CRT can be more accurately described as objections to teaching for equity (which can include social justice education, culturally relevant teaching, anti-racist teaching, and more-these are different from each other but overlap in important ways). Teaching for equity includes: ensuring that all students’ identities are welcomed and celebrated; providing instructional materials that reflect a wide variety of perspectives (including various racial identities); a curriculum that is high-level, accessible to all students and emphasizes critical thinking; and ongoing teacher learning so that educators are reflecting on their practices in a continual way.

In a classroom, this looks like a library of books and resources that include lots of different kinds of characters. It can also be a classroom rich in discussion about current events so kids have ample opportunity to practice critical thinking and discourse. It may also be a history unit that includes several primary resources from different demographic groups, so that students may consider multiple perspectives. In a primary classroom, it may look like a read aloud about a community much like theirs, a rural one, but in an entirely different part of the world. It can also look like a guest speaker coming to share how their family celebrates a holiday unfamiliar to most of the students in the class.

Does teaching for equity teach Black, Asian, Hispanic, and multiracial children to feel victimized? 

No. Many families are concerned about this-no one wants children to feel dis-empowered or victimized. When multiple perspectives are presented, however, children of color are more likely to find themselves in the learning, which leads to a deeper and more rigorous educational experience. Classrooms in which students are welcomed to bring their full identities to the community, including their racial identities, are more likely to be classrooms in which students feel safe and known. This also leads to greater and deeper learning.

Does it teach White children to feel guilty?

No. This is a concern of many parents of White children, and understandably so. No one wants their children to feel guilty or upset,  including teachers who teach for equity; that’s not the goal. Teaching about the history of race and racism should empower students to make the world better and more equitable. Slavery and Jim Crow, for example, are painful parts of our history, but students need to understand how these came about and how the lingering effects of them are still apparent today so that they may be empowered to ensure that we continue to work toward equity for all. Including multiple voices when studying periods of history or when reading literature also asks students to consider new ideas and perspectives. Moreover, asking students to engage in critical discourse prepares them to be active citizens of their community, both now and when they are grown.

Is teaching about race and racism indoctrination?

No. Presenting students with resources that reflect multiple perspectives means that students are learning to look critically at historical events, literature, media and more. All of us want our students to think critically and independently…that’s what this kind of teaching supports. It teaches children HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

Does NAACP-Culpeper support CRT in our K-12 schools?

No-CRT is for higher ed, not K-12! We DO, however, support teaching for equity, which is often inaccurately conflated with CRT. We know that structural racism exists-the data is unequivocal on this. We also know that education is one area of our society where we simply cannot ignore opportunity gaps. Every child deserves a high-quality, rigorous education that pushes them to reach their full potential.  Currently, not all students have these opportunities; students of color, especially Black students, continue to achieve at much lower levels than their White peers in Culpeper, Madison, and Rappahannock counties. There are significant gaps between White and Black/Hispanic students’ reading levels, math achievement, graduation rates, and participation in gifted education programs and AP programs.

Teaching for equity supports the closing of these gaps. Research shows that a positive school climate where all students feel welcomed and valued leads to higher achievement for all children (students of color as well as White students), as does rigorous, high-level instructional programming. Teaching for equity IS high-quality, rigorous education because it engages students in higher-level thinking that encourages them to consider multiple perspectives. It also affirms and welcomes the identities of all students in a classroom, not just those in the racial majority.

As a civil rights organization, we will continue to fight for this every single day. Education IS a civil right.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at education@naacpculpeper.com . You are also invited to attend our NAACP general membership meetings, held over zoom the third Thursday each month.

Sincerely,

NAACP-Culpeper Education Committee
Dr. Laurel Blackmon, Chair

Jason Ford
Simone Kiere
Robert Legge
Bettie Mahan-Berry
Nancy Peacock
Fred Sapp

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