Teachers and civil rights activists are organizing and preparing to go to court to stop conservative efforts to block curricula on institutional racism.
Why is this important: “This is the Modern Day Scopes trial, âAmerican Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told Axios, recalling the 1925 case concerning the evolution of education.
- In recent months, lawmakers in nearly half of the states in the United States have passed or introduced proposals to curtail lessons on how racism has shaped the nation’s history and political and economic systems.
- Conservative groups are also waging recall campaigns against school board members in the United States
Driving the news: Weingarten said his union would defend the right of teachers to teach American history – and aggressively protect any educator accused of violating these new laws and restrictions.
- “We are considering legal action because these laws conflict with the standards and our licensing requirements and our professional obligations,” she said.
- National Education Association stewards voted earlier this month to expand anti-racism and diversity education in American classrooms, despite the growing backlash.
- The Leaders’ Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 79 other civil rights and education groups recently issued a statement calling anti-racism classroom lessons a student right to be defended.
The big picture: This backlash against critical race theory comes as school systems become more diverse and many parents welcome more diverse programs.
- The popularity of the New York Times Project 1619, by Nikole Hannah-Jones, who examined the history of slavery and its lasting impact in the United States, also angered conservatives.
The other side: Citizens for Renewing America, a group led by a White House budget manager under former President Trump, is offering activists model legislation to ban critical race theory in their states. Teachers are also threatened with dismissal for introducing anti-racist courses.
- At least 51 local recall efforts involving K-12 school boards were launched this year in response to critical race theory and COVID-19 closures.
- Critics of Critical Race Theory suggest that long-standing children’s books and popular novels regularly listed as high school reading are now dangerous.
- Idaho state lawmaker Heather Scott cited Harper Lee’s 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” as evidence that critical race theory “is creeping into our schools.”
- A group of white parents in Tennessee claimed that “Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story,” by Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to desegregate all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana, was anti-American ( and) anti-white.
Reality check: Critical Race Theory – which maintains that racism is ingrained in nation-building and ingrained in our legal, financial, and educational systems – was developed in law schools in the 1970s and is not really taught at primary school.