Support anti-racism curriculum in schools.

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Take Action

  • Encourage educators in your community to sign the #TeachtheTruth pledge at the Zinn Education Project. As part, they’ll receive diverse and culturally-responsive resources for their classrooms.

  • Use this map to learn more about the legislation pending or passed in your state.

  • Attend school and district board meetings to advocate for diverse and truthful curriculum.

We previously discussed how conservatives are rallying against “critical race theory” to prohibit educators from teaching about American systemic racism. Although critical race theory, an academic theory often only seen in law schools, isn’t being taught directly in most schools in the country, parents, administrators and legislators are using the term to hinder conversations on racism, systemic oppression, even socio-emotional learning and restorative justice (The74).

When we released our last newsletter on the topic, Idaho and Tennessee had already banned instruction that acknowledged white privilege. Now, twenty-six states have introduced or passed legislation in an attempt to limit discourse on racism and sexism (Newsweek).

The effects of these retrograde policies are already playing out. A white Florida teacher was fired for putting a Black Lives Matter flag in her classroom. A Tennessee instructor was terminated after showing a video of a poem about white privilege. A Missouri school district’s sole Black administrator resigned after receiving threats so severe she hired private security guards. Educators, especially Black educators, are being pushed out of schools. Experts warn of a “brain drain” in an already understaffed field (Yahoo). In response, activists and educators are preparing to fight this legislation in court (Axios).

We asked educators to check in and let us know how they’re doing. Here’s some of the ways bans on critical race theory are affecting our communities:

1. 42% of our respondents stated that the discourse related to critical race theory is impacting what they can teach in the classroom. 

“I am a D&I analyst (newly created position for an online school). I’m not even done with my first year and have gotten push back on sharing articles on AAPI discrimination, having pronouns utilized in signatures, and speaking on how the rhetoric of Trump has increased discrimination against minorities. Just recently a school in the area was dealing with parent pushback on CRT, which has in turned made parents and staff in my own district/school question our approach or stance on CRT/DEI. They often conflate the two and threaten to pull their children from our school if the material is covered.”

“I am not a teacher, but I work as a support staff member for all schools in my District. Our District had a new goal which included anti-racist language, but it caused such a backlash with the white community, that they were forced to remove the language “white advantage”. Our state (FL) has also proposed a rule to ban CRT.”

“It is unreal to watch how quickly groups of parents in my district mobilized to monitor and brigade any teacher whose lessons explicitly mention terms such as ‘equity, inclusion, white supremacy, systemic racism,’ and anything else they deem out of the teacher’s jurisdiction as an educator. In a district that already struggles to practice what it preaches regarding equity, this does nothing but stifle the important conversations that need to happen because central office now feels the need to play it ‘safe’ to avoid drawing unwanted attention.”

2. Others mentioned that the mere *perception* of pushback from parents and administrators is affecting the classroom.

“I teach 4th grade. We have a very outdated curriculum, however, my district has been doing work training teachers on cultural proficiency for a few years. My principal is supportive on teaching based around current events and social justice (I teach 4th grade). However, this is not a mandate and many teachers feel uncomfortable doing this as they are afraid of the backlash they may get from families and they feel there is no curriculum.”

“I teach an entire senior elective centered on CRT. So far, I haven’t heard anything directed at my school or my class, but I did drive by a group of people protesting CRT two towns away last week. I am worried.”

“Hard to say if this is true or false just yet, but I believe the impact is strong around the FEAR of what teachers/district leaders might get in “trouble” for, which leads to a scaling back of these important topics. Funding by private organizations will also impact what resources/partnerships schools have access to.”

3. This discourse is causing specific lessons and curriculum to be banned from the classroom.

“I teach African American History. I have to remove The 1619 Project from my curriculum due to a new state law […] I don’t know how to teach any class on history without discussing the role of race. Racism is embedded in US history and it can’t be removed.”

“I am concerned that I won’t be able to teach persuasive writing specifically focused on elected officials, which is something I had hoped to do this year. I’m in Texas, and the bill that was passed during our regular session states that you can’t give credit or extra credit for political activism, including writing to elected officials.”

4. However, many educators note that their schools and communities are more intent on diversifying their curriculum. These educators, though, were mainly at charter or private schools.

“I work in a Charter School with a principal, superintendent and board that is very supportive of making sure our students get an education that recognizes their identities. We are able to rewrite our curriculum to focus on anti-bias and anti-racism as we teach Social Studies and ELA. The only impact from the CRT is that we are trying to do better about what our students are learning.”

“I am a 5th grade teacher in a Catholic school. I teach 4th and 5th grade Social Studies. I try to teach history as honestly as I can—I wouldn’t call it “critical race theory” because that is way too complicated for elementary students. But I am pretty much allowed to teach what I want and have received no pushback so far for teaching students that the Founding Fathers were racist, indigenous genocide, etc. It probably helps that my school is majority Mexican; I think white parents would react differently.”

What can we expect as the school year unfolds? It’s unclear – nearly half of respondents that haven’t run into an issue mentioned that it might be too soon to tell. But it’s clear that this coordinated attack will have lasting implications for students in the years ahead.

This recap highlights a sample of 90 survey respondents from the U.S. 55% represent K-8 educators, and 45% represent 9-12th grade educators. All responses are anonymous.

Key Takeaways

  • Discourse around critical race theory is making it difficult for educators to teach content related to racism and systemic oppression in their classrooms.

  • Twenty-six states have introduced or passed legislation in an attempt to limit discourse on racism and sexism (Newsweek).

  • In our survey with educators, we found that 42% are being impacted by these conversations today.

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