On Critical Race Theory, State Superintendent Says Michigan Schools Cannot Ignore History

While Critical Race Theory is not a concept currently taught in Michigan schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12, state superintendent Dr. Michael Rice says students need to learn more about race and racism.

“Race and racism can be awkward for some, uncomfortable for others and scorching for still others, but, because they are inextricably part of our history, they must be taught,” Rice said during an August 10 meeting of the Michigan Board of Education. . “I trust our teachers to solve and teach these difficult problems in order to share the fullness and complexity of our story with our children.”

Critical Race Theory (sometimes referred to as CRT) is an educational framework that helps ordinary people understand race and racism at the institutional and structural level. The goal of Critical Race Theory is to understand how racism affects all institutions in society, such as the justice system and health care.

Controversy has surrounded the theory due to the belief that critical race theory, by emphasizing systems of inequality, can pit racial groups against each other.

Rice explained that it was not about “making some children feel bad and others good”, but rather to recognize the history of our country.

“Choosing to ignore race and racism in our teaching is to erase or erase history, implicitly or explicitly, and bypass our children, who deserve to learn the full extent and complexity of our history. extraordinary, ”Rice said.

Critical race theory first appeared in the 1970s in the field of law. It was introduced to the field of education in 1995 by educators Gloria Ladson-Billings and William F. Tate IV of the University of Wisconsin in the scientific article “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education”.

Local school districts are responsible for their own curriculum. Critical race theory has become a topic of debate among several Michigan school boards over whether or not to implement such classroom discussions.

Superintendent Steve Laatsch said in July that the continued efforts of schools in the Salt Flats to make their curriculum more representative of their entire community did not equal teaching critical breed theory.

“What we are doing is focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion and on culturally appropriate education so that all of our students feel part of our schools and our curriculum, by reading books under different angles and perspective from different authors and listening to our students. and families so they know their voices are being heard, ”Laatsch said.

Laatsch made the distinction to clarify that the district’s continued efforts to be more inclusive for all students and families are not, in fact, aligned with critical race theory and will not be taught in schools. saline.

Read more: Critical breed theory will not be taught in saltwater schools – mlive.com

In northern Michigan, the Traverse City area public school board sparked outrage from some parents when it presented a resolution at a June 28 school board meeting condemning racism and discrimination and affirming inclusiveness.

The resolution came after several students from public schools in the Traverse City area participated in a social media “slave market” that targeted and put price tags on photos of their minority classmates.

The one-page resolution was about teacher and staff training and a fair learning environment for all students. He didn’t mention the curriculum.

Those supporting the resolution said it – and its goals – are necessary to prepare students for the future and to deal with the “slave market” incident.

Many who opposed it called the resolution a critical race theory or said they feared it was a step towards teaching the concept.

The board eventually passed a version of the resolution that specifically stated that Critical Race Theory is best suited for advanced academic discussion and not appropriate for K-12 education.

Read more: Michigan school’s resolution against racism sparks community backlash – mlive.com

Critical race theory is most often taught in colleges and universities, but politicians have taken steps to ban it at K-12 institutions, with the threat of withholding public funds.

A group of Republicans in the Michigan Senate introduced a bill in May to ban critical race theory from school curricula starting in the 2021-2022 school year.

Senate Bill 460 calls the theory “anti-American” and “racist”. Under the bill, if a school were found to teach critical race theory, 5% of the total funds owed to the school district or school would be withheld.

Senator Lana Theis, R-Brighton, who sponsored the bill, said critical race theory is an intentional misrepresentation of American history.

“We should not ignore the past sins of our nation, especially things as heinous as slavery and Jim Crow, nor allow the history we teach our children to be distorted and politicized by an ideological and historically inaccurate program. “Theis said in a statement. May press release.

In Rice’s remarks, he underscored the Constitution of the United States and the founding father’s vision to “form a more perfect union”.

He also cited examples of historic actions to combat racism and racial injustice, including the 13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery, the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to all those born or naturalized in the United States. United and the 15th Amendment, which gives adult males the right to vote regardless of race.

Rice told the State Board of Education that “today’s children need to know our rich and mottled history and consider its layers, its contradictions, its complexities.”

“We teach history so that we can learn from it,” Rice said. “So as not to relive the tragic moments and to help continue our inexorable progress as Americans to continue to build a more perfect union.”

About Colin Shumway

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