A small but growing number of educators nationwide have left their jobs after angry parents in their school districts accused them of teaching critical race theory, NBC News reported on Monday.
Administrators at almost every school district dealing with the issue have said that they do not teach critical race theory, insisting instead that conservative activists are using that label for a range of diversity and equity initiatives that they consider too progressive.
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.
The controversy in schools has prompted lawmakers in 22 states to propose constraints on how schools can discuss racial issues, including five states that have passed laws limiting in what ways teachers can address "divisive concepts" with students, according to NBC News.
Administrators and teachers across the nation say they have been pushed out of their districts over the issue, with some choosing to leave public schools entirely and others fighting to save their career.
This has resulted, according to educators and experts, in a brain drain of those who are most committed to fighting racism in schools.
"This is going to cause an exodus among an already scarce recruiting field in education," said Kumar Rashad, a Louisville math teacher and local teachers union leader told NBC News. "People aren't entering the field as much as they were, and now we have this to chase them away."
Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education at PEN America, a free speech advocacy group, added that it is "highly alarming" that educators are resigning, facing dismissal, and fearing for their lives due to discussions about racism and diversity.
He said he is worried that "there is great risk that a creeping censoriousness will overtake our public schools, purging them of a diversity of teachers and talent and winnowing the critical lenses through which young people should be encouraged to view history and society."
In one such example of the controversy, at least four school district administrators in Southlake, Texas, who were key in putting together or implementing a plan to fight agasint racial and cultural left recently after the community complained about the diversity and inclusion efforts.
In another case, the only Black woman in Eureka, Missouri’s Rockwood School District’s administration resigned as diversity coordinator after threats of violence became so severe that the district hired private security to patrol her house.
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