Commentary | Center for 1776

Op-Ed: Critical race theory is already in schools. It’s up to parents to fight it.

It’s the worst-kept secret in Texas. Even as educators and administrators continue to deny that critical race theory is being taught in Texas schools, CRT’s concepts and terminology are working their way into classrooms and libraries throughout the state.

And it won’t stop until determined parents hold school boards accountable for what their children are being taught about themselves and the world in which we live.

Here are just a few examples. In Aldine Independent School District, near Houston, Superintendent LaTonya M. Goffney appears to have gone all-in on CRT. In a “Message from the Superintendent” released in 2020, she pledged to remold the schools into a “culturally responsive environment,” a hallmark of the so-called “anti-racist” movement.

“Facing the reality of the world we live in — one full of systemic racism, bigotry and ignorance — is the first step,” she wrote. “We must also acknowledge that we have failed, even right here in our district, to successfully honor Black lives and have hard conversations about where and how we are struggling to promote excellence and equity for every child in our schools.”

“Anti-racist” is the nom de guerre of critical race theory. And “systemic racism” is the foundation of the entire school of thought — it holds that racism is inherent to law and many American institutions, and it critiques that role in perpetuating ongoing racial inequalities. For some critical race theorists, that means these institutions are beyond redemption and must be torn down and remade. As for “bigotry and ignorance,” Goffney correctly points out that Aldine ISD isn’t doing a very good job of teaching the basics to students; she adds that fewer than a third of its third-grade students are reading at grade level.

The next example comes from Katy ISD, where parents objected to an event featuring author Jerry Craft who wrote the book “New Kid.” Essentially, “New Kid” is a graphic novel about “microaggressions.” Its protagonist is a Black youth who enrolls in a mostly white private school. Throughout the story, Jordan is subjected to the usual insults, intentional and unintentional. Before critical race theory, we had a different term for kids being jerks to other kids — we called it “middle school.”

But the study of microaggressions is often associated with the CRT framework. “Racial microaggressions are layered and cumulative assaults, often carried out in subtle and unconscious ways, which take a psychological and physiological toll on the body, mind, and spirit,” the authors of “Racial Microaggressions: Using Critical Race Theory to Respond to Everyday Racism” explain.

So many other examples: A high school in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD planned to show a video to its students in which a speaker stated, “anyone — to be blunt — that is not a white male” may feel the implicit effects of internal bias.” Dividing schoolkids into two classes, the oppressors and the oppressed, seems to be the goal of CRT.

And Alief ISD’s “equity plan” includes anti-bias training and initiatives for “reducing in- and out-of-school suspensions for designated ethnic groups.” These policies would mean selective punishment based not on the infraction, but on the color of the student’s skin.

So, let’s stop pretending. Texas schools are awash in CRT, or the same thinking that drives it anyway, despite the Legislature’s best efforts to ban its teaching in our schools. But that doesn’t mean the fight is over; in fact, it has just begun.

The good news is that parents aren’t powerless. Many Texas school districts have special school board elections scheduled for Nov. 2; many more have elections slated for May.

Parents in Carroll ISD formed a coalition around a slate of school board candidates who oppose CRT; they won both seats with nearly 70 percent of the vote. That’s what happens when parents step in.

Even better, parents can step up — and run for a seat on the school board themselves.

Brooke L. Rollins serves as President and CEO for the America First Policy Institute (AFPI).

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