Why Critical Race Theory is Debated at Guilford and Elsewhere

GUILFORD – Critical race theory has become a hot topic, not just in Connecticut, but across the country.

Several governors have recently addressed the issue, including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who tweeted that critical race theory had no place in the classroom. Also, Idaho Governor Brad Little sign a bill to ban critical race theory and other concepts of social justice in public schools, and state representative Amy Perruso, D-Hawaii, a former teacher, told Hawaii Public Radio that these uncomfortable conversations belong to classrooms.

In Connecticut, Guilford public schools have been at the center of this debate. The district builds and supports an equity and social justice initiative, which parents have spoken out in public meetings.

However, other parents say this initiative is really essential to racial theory entering classrooms. Superintendent Paul Freeman and the Board of Education denied the accusations, saying students are learning that institutional racism is part of American history.

Connecticut is also diversifying education at the state level. In 2019, Governor Ned Lamont signed Public law 19-12, which requires all regional and local school boards to include an elective high school course that gives students a better understanding of African-American, Black, Puerto Rican and Latino contributions to U.S. history.

The course will not be compulsory, but must be offered from the 2022-2023 school year.

Critical Race Theory is the practice of questioning the role of racism and race in society. The theory criticizes how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism cause people of color to fall into the lower levels of a caste system, according to Janel George’s January item published in the American Bar Association’s Human Rights Magazine.

George is a civil rights lawyer, policy advisor and assistant professor at Georgetown University, where she teaches a course exploring racial justice in the K-12 public education system through a critical theoretical framework. of the race.

“The CRT recognizes that racism is not a relic of the past. Instead, it recognizes that the legacy of slavery, segregation and the imposition of second-class citizenship on black Americans and other people of color continues to permeate the social fabric of this nation. George wrote in his article.

Critical breed theory was created by Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Cheryl Harris, Richard Delgado, Patricia Williams, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Tara Yosso and others, according to George.

In an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media, George said Critical Race Theory is an ever-evolving practice and approach in the legal academy, and is something taught at the senior level, not to children.

“Critical Race Theory is not training in diversity. It is not a program. It’s a legal theory that until recently lived in the academy, ”said George. “This is a legal theory that has sort of been adopted by people who are really opposed to confronting racism. “

Critical race theory is confused with anything to do with race, according to George, who noted that civil rights era language was co-opted to express this opposition.

“There has been a lot of confusion, partly intentional, in characterizing critical race theory and what it really is to disparage race and the discussion of race,” said George. “The opposition does not make it go away. There is a reluctance to acknowledge the story, even the Tulsa massacre. We see the consequences primarily of denial and silence.

Why is Critical Race Theory being debated now?

Critical race theory entered mainstream media and politics in 2020 when President Donald Trump signed a decree the ban on certain racial sensitivity training by federal contractors.

“Today, however, many people defend a different view of America, based on hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than on the inherent and equal dignity of each person as an individual,” states Decree.

“This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irreparably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply because of their race or gender, are oppressors; and that racial and gender identities are more important than our common status as humans and Americans.

In September 2020, Trump spoke at the White House Conference on American History where he said, “We must eliminate the web of twisted lies in our schools and classrooms, and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country “.

Trump said children were brainwashed in classrooms, specifically pointing out The 1619 project by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for her work.

Trump claimed the project rewrote history to teach children that America was founded on oppression, not freedom.

In response, the former president created in November 2020 the Commission of 1776, which has since been dissolved. It aimed to promote patriotic education.

The role of critical race theory in education

In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education has ruled that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional, but has not explained how to implement the ruling. In 1955, Brown v. Board of Education II led to the Supreme Court ruling that desegregation should proceed “at deliberate speed”.

These decisions did not solve the problem of school desegregation. In 1956, more than 100 members of Congress wrote the Declaration of Constitutional Principles, also known as the Southern Manifesto, which declared that they defied the ruling.

“You have massive resistance. Schools in Prince Edward County, Virginia have closed for five years. They closed their public schools rather than desegregation. Other schools have created these white Christian academies in an attempt to privatize school desegregation ordinances, ”said George, adding that black teachers and principals have been fired or demoted instead of being brought into the school system as planned. .

Coordinated federal action, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Primary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and the withdrawal of federal funding and enforcement through the judiciary, has led to a change.

“That’s when he started to be more progressive in the late ’60s,’ 70s, and ’80s. The peak of desegregation was in the late’ 80s,” said George.

According to George’s article.

Reforming the curriculum, as well as the school funding system, providing more support and training for educators, and creating programs to recruit teachers who live in the local community would go a long way in advancing the issue, said George. .

“I think it will take a variety of different efforts, coordinated efforts, to really start laying the groundwork for change,” she said.

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