It seems that your latest fear is the specter of Critical Race Theory.
You demand laws in various states against the teaching of CRT in public classrooms. You oppose the concept in your colleges, universities, and seminaries. You fight because you fear that teachers are immersing your children in CRT—especially your white children.
You will even go so far as to allow massive government overreach and interference with academic freedom in order to prevent the spread of this allegedly insidious theory.
Thank you for caring enough to raise your voice. There is, however, one small problem.
No one is teaching your children Critical Race Theory, certainly not in the way you are being told. In all likelihood they are not teaching it at any level—even in college or graduate school.
How do I know this? For starters, I have taught in college for the last seven years. I encountered zero professors, administrators, or staff who ever brought up the concept of CRT. Much less pushed us to teach it.
In fact, most of us have no idea what Critical Race Theory is. We cannot teach it if we cannot even properly define it. Professors heard about this at the same time you did—after it became a lit match in the hands of political pundits.
Are we learning more about it now? Yes, we certainly are. It is our job to understand what has so many of you so disturbed, and why legislators are passing laws that forbid academic freedom and integrity because of CRT. That said, we are miles away from knowing enough to teach it.
(Likewise, we are pretty sure that your children could not understand it even if we were teaching it).
Beyond that, the pundits, legislators, and education officials in various states talk about Critical Race Theory as an educational theory or concept.
CRT is a legal—not educational—theory. There is no technique, methodology, or philosophy adopted by educators to infuse Critical Race Theory into the classrooms of college students, much less elementary school children.
The study of CRT involves the investigation of legal and political components that contribute to racial disparities in the United States. That is an over-simplified and crude definition at best, but it moves towards the concept. If there is a CRT curriculum, I have yet to see it or hear about it from anyone in the educational world.
In fact, you can make a solid case that CRT is the last thing on the minds of elementary school teachers across the country. If you think otherwise, then you need to spend a day in an elementary school classroom.
Have you ever tried to herd cats? Not just one cat, but a gaggle of cats—7, 8, 9, or perhaps 25 of them? This is the life of an elementary school teacher. She or he is trying to teach basic concepts, perhaps even basic life skills, to small children from every variety of background imaginable. They are worried about how to get kids to lunch, the bathroom, or recess. They are worried that their kids have pencils, ate something for breakfast, or came to school on a cold day without a jacket.
They are hoping that your child can master 7×11 before some senator or school board member rips into them about their standardized test scores. Advanced legal and sociological concepts are the furthest thing from their mind.
I would challenge you to find a place and time for these dedicated educators to work in the dynamic intricacies of a legal theory into the day. Sometime between lunch and the bathroom?
Now, it is true that educators are working harder to teach the full range of social studies and history that impacts the nation and the world. But teaching accurate history is NOT Critical Race Theory. It is, quite simply, history.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting Monticello, the majestic home of one Thomas Jefferson. My wife visited this site 20+ years ago, but it was my first trip. She quickly pointed out that several things changed since her last visit. Primarily, the tours had extensive information about Sally Hemmings and Jefferson’s participation in the practice of slavery.
Some would label that CRT. Damaging to the nation. Damaging to Jefferson’s legacy. Unfortunately, the truth quite often hurts.
HOWEVER, this is not CRT. It is not even damaging. Knowing the realities does not make us lesser, but instead makes us better. More than one thing can be true, and Jefferson’s positive and negative legacies demonstrate that. He did a lot of great things and was a very flawed human being.
In other words, he has a lot in common with the rest of us humans.
From that perspective, please understand that we will challenge our students as they move towards higher learning. We will present ideas in unique and creative ways. We will push them to look at the world from different perspectives. We will present a variety of ideas about history, religion, and the social sciences.
In my own work, that includes both the possibilities and problems that are raised by Christianity throughout history. We look at the significant issues facing Christian faith—and religion in general–in the modern world. This relates to race and all the aspects of society with which their faith intersects.
This is our job. Students do not move into higher education to hear what they have already heard. They go into it to learn and grow and expand their knowledge of the world.
If we are afraid to acknowledge and share the full weight of truth and reality with our children, what does that say about us?
No one is throwing this at grade school children. We are challenging them in these areas, slowly but surely, as it is educationally appropriate. Just as the vast majority of educators do.
Someone suggested that we need cameras in every classroom to monitor what teachers are doing with our children. First off, it would be interesting to hear how many of us will accept the tax hike required for this. Second, this seems an odd suggestion when so many people oppose “government intrusion” in our daily lives.
Finally, there is a much better and more effective option. As we move beyond COVID, perhaps you can volunteer at your child’s school. Maybe you can help a teacher at recess, file some papers, organize field trip forms, or watch the class while they get a bathroom break. You will get a firsthand look at what they do, how hard their job is, and how they go about that work.
It is likely that you will also soon realize that Critical Race Theory is the least of their—or your—concerns. Best of all you can rest easy by ignoring those who just want your vote, or your money, or both.
Just another guy with a classroom