The battle over critical race theory in U.S. schools faces a new challenge as the largest teachers union has embraced progressives' racially focused curriculum.
During its annual assembly late last week, the National Education Association voted to support teaching critical race theory in K-12 schools, the Washington Examiner reported Wednesday.
The NEA's approved "new business item" established a task force for developing a curriculum focusing more deeply on race.
"They are now owning up to deception that they were perpetuating in the media for so long that none of this was part of their agenda," Asra Nomani, vice president of strategy and investigations for Parents Defending Education, told the Examiner.
In her keynote address during the virtual assembly, NEA President Becky Pringle told the membership: "The NEA will lead a movement that unites not just our members, but the nation to reclaim public education as a common good, and transform it into something it was never designed to be -- a racially and socially just and equitable system that prepares every student, every one, to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world."
Increased attention given to critical race theory has resulted in heated school board meetings and political races across the country. Progressives have accused Republicans and conservatives of manufacturing the movement against it.
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in American law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that the U.S. society is inherently or systemically racist.Progressives have insisted critical race theory is not taught in classrooms nationwide – something hard to claim in light of the NEA's vote.
The PDE established a way for parents to report policies or lessons that conform to critical race theory. Nomani told the Examiner the curriculum was pervasive.
"What happened is that, as soon as we started documenting this from coast to coast, the teachers unions, the superintendents association, the school boards, and politicians — and unfortunately, willing activists within the community — also have tried to gaslight us and play this game of whether or not the theory is being taught," Nomani told the Examiner.
In Loudoun County, Virginia, school officials continue to insist critical race theory is not taught in any of its classrooms. However, opposition to CRT became so fierce during a school board meeting in June that police arrested at least one person and board members ended the meeting early due to the chaos, the Examiner said.
Critical race theory critics say the approach could deepen racial tensions because it teaches children to see themselves, others, and institutions primarily through the lens of race.
CRT supporters say children need to understand the role racism has played in shaping America as they move into the future.
The Examiner said anti-CRT activists include any school policies dictated by race under the theory umbrella. Nomani cited merit-based admissions tests eliminated for equity at her own son’s school. But CRT proponents claim the theory is not being taught if it isn’t actually used in the classroom.
According to the Examiner, Nomani said documentation of the NEA’s CRT-related vote had been removed from its website as of Tuesday afternoon.
The Examiner failed to find the text of the business item regarding critical race theory in its review of the NEA’s website.
Ian Prior, executive director of the Loudoun-based group Fight for Schools, told the Examiner last month that he believed many parents got involved in activism after seeing and hearing what their children were learning during at-home schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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