Ten Questions on Critical Race Theory
Recently, during a Fox News interview with Martha MacCallum, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten was asked about Critical Race Theory in K-12 classrooms. Weingarten answered by oversimplifying the historical inaccuracies contained in the New York Times’ 1619 Project, and when pressed on the racially polarizing, anti-American nature of the curriculum, Weingarten abruptly changed the subject to the 2020 election.
“That’s a dodge,” MacCallum told Weingarten.
It was a dodge indeed. The divisive tenets at the heart of Critical Race Theory are not the easiest to promote and defend. This doesn’t excuse Weingarten from answering basic questions about the topic, and as a Philadelphia public school teacher and dues-paying member of the AFT, I’d like to know how Weingarten truly feels about the toxic ideologies being pushed on America’s teachers and students.
Here are 10 questions for Weingarten concerning the use of critical race theory in America’s K-12 Classroom:
1. Should we be teaching children that all White people are inherently racist? This is a central point made by Robin DiAngelo, who regularly facilitates professional development trainings for teachers and other organizations. Her bestselling book, White Fragility has been used to develop so-called “antiracist” curriculum in school districts across America.
2. Should we be teaching children that America is a systemically racist country based on white supremacy? The Oregon Department of Education is promoting a program called “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction,” which aims to deconstruct racism in mathematics, and make visible the “toxic characteristics of White supremacy culture in math.”
“White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions,” the program toolkit states. “Coupled with the beliefs that underlie these actions, they perpetuate educational harm on Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, denying them full access to the world of mathematics.”
3. Should we be teaching children that all racial disparities are the sole result of racism? Ibram X. Kendi, who runs the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, forwards this very idea. He proposed passing an anti-racist constitutional amendment to “fix the original sin of racism” in America. This amendment would not be concerned with equal opportunity, but equal outcome, and any racial disparity would be viewed as the result of racist policy and would be dealt with accordingly.
4. Should we be teaching children that you are either racist or antiracist, and that there is no neutral? Kendi’s bestselling book, How to Be an Antiracist, polarizes Americans into separate camps and presents educators with the fallacy of the false dilemma: you either accept Kendi’s ideology wholeheartedly, or risk getting labeled “racist.”
5. Should we be teaching children that White America is inherently anti-Black, and that all Whites suffer from an unconscious bias against people of color? Seattle Public Schools held a teacher training where educators were deemed guilty of “spirit murder,” which is the concept that American schools “murder the souls of Black children every day through systemic, institutionalized, anti-Black, state-sanctioned violence,” according to University of Georgia education professor Bettina Love.
6. Should we be polarizing children into tribal camps based on race, and teaching them to view the world through victim groups? According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, a major thematic component of critical race theory is the “Marxist analysis of society made up of categories of oppressors and oppressed.”
7. Should we be teaching children that things such as linear time, work ethic, individualism, and the scientific method are aspects of White supremacy culture? In July of 2020, the National Museum of African American History and Culture published a pamphlet titled “Aspects and Assumptions of Whiteness in the United States” which did just that.
8. Should we be teaching children that so-called “whiteness” is problematic, and must be targeted and disrupted? An organization of English teachers called “Disrupt Texts” wants to remove White authors like William Shakespeare from English classes. Bree Picower, an education professor at Montclair State University, recently published a book titled Reading Writing and Racism: Disrupting Whiteness in Teacher Education and in the Classroom, which teaches education majors that so-called “whiteness” is something that must be eliminated in classrooms.
9. Should we be teaching children that being nice, cooperative, and compliant is racist, and that the notion of “hard work” is White cultural appropriation? In July of 2020, KIPP Charter School founder Richard Barth announced that KIPP was retiring its national slogan, “Work hard. Be nice.” According to Barth, the slogan “ignores the significant effort required to dismantle systemic racism, places value on being compliant and submissive, supports the illusion of meritocracy, and does not align with our vision of students being free to create the future they want.”
10. Should we be teaching children that the most important determinant of success in their lives is skin color, which is the guiding principle at the heart of Critical Race Theory?
As president of the second largest teachers union in the United States, Weingarten should properly address these questions. When it comes to the racially polarizing, anti-American nature of Critical Race Theory, we deserve to know how she feels.
Christopher Paslay is a longtime Philadelphia public school teacher and education writer. His new book, Exploring White Fragility, examines the effects CRT is having on K-12 schools.
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