CRITICAL RACE THEORY: IS IT WORKING FOR OUR STUDENTS TO CREATE DIVERSITY, INCLUSION AND EQUITY?
*About 8 years ago Edina Public Schools introduced the “All-for-All initiative” and its signature push for diversity, inclusion, and equity.
*One year later was the last year that Edina High School was ranked number one in the US News and World Reports rankings of Minnesota high schools.
*What happened? The Pre-AP 10 class (10-grade language arts) was introduced and featured a low-Lexile, postmodern, one-size-fits-all-low-learning-level model of ‘equity’-based curriculum.
*The results were not good: Within two years of its introduction, 10-grade MCA scores tumbled 10 percentage points and have never recovered.
*What is being taught? Credited to Jackie Roehl, EPS’ highly touted 2012 Minnesota Teacher of the Year (a Minnesota Teachers’ Union designation), the curriculum features more than just an exploration of issues of equality in American society. Writing in More Courageous Conversations About Race (2012 ed. Glenn Singleton; Voices From the Inside: Jackie Roehl), Roehl explained “Understanding critical race theory was a significant reason behind our school taking another step on our equity journey—incorporating a study of critical race theory into our sophomore English classes (emphasis mine).”
*What changed? Focus. Ms. Roehl, 2012 Teacher of the Year, admits that academic excellence is not the central mission of Edina Schools, but rather, equity is. (Note: Ms. Roehl is now retired).
*What is the difference between excellence and equity? CRT minimizes abilities of students to rise to standards of excellence because it substitutes emphasis on high achievement, replacing it with low expectations.
*Where are we headed? In EPS’ 2020 teacher Professional Development (PD), teachers were encouraged to embrace the “Freedom Dream” of ending capitalism in 50-60 years (Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools – YouTube; 1:28).
*What does CRT say? In the “Critical Thinking” segment of Professional Development, Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility was highlighted. Her book asserts all whites are racist (“White identity is inherently racist; white people do not exist outside the system of white supremacy.”); Ibram X. Kendi, whose book, How to Be An Antiracist, was also used in EPS’ PD states that intentional discrimination against “privileged” groups (i.e. whites) must take place (“The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”).
*Does CRT work to bring people together? The short answer is no. Many of these notions come under the estimable terms of “Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.” However, these feel-good phrases are trojan horses for division, cancelling, and forced outcomes. Diversity asserts our humanity is secondary to our race, inclusion suppresses speech in order to protect tribes and equity seeks equality of outcomes, not equality of opportunity.
*Does the Black community uniformly embrace CRT? Also, no. Former civil rights activist Robert Woodson’s, 1776 Unites, pools the best of Black scholarship positing a constructive pathway to racial harmony and progress. Carol Swain, a former academic, also offers her Unity Training Solutions for the same end. Locally, former business executive Kendall Qualls offers practical community-based solutions with his organization TakeChargeMN.
It is up to all of us to ask necessary questions. Are we more divided now than ever? Is Diversity, Inclusion and Equity working and building stronger communities?