Professors, parents sound off on proposal to prioritize Critical Race Theory
22 parent and teacher volunteer groups are telling Secretary Cardona that his proposal may lead to violations of students' civil rights.
Commenters say prioritizing Critical Race Theory could have chilling effects in college classrooms.
The Biden administration invited the public to comment on its plan to place a priority on plications for a civics and history grant that incorporates Critical Race Theory in April. Americans had much to say about the polarizing proposal, which yielded more than 16,800 comments over a 30-day period.
In addition to comments made online, 22 parent and teacher groups signed on to a coalition letter to Secretary Cardona that says teaching Critical Race Theory may violate the rights of students to pursue an education without discrimination. The group, led by Parents Defending Education, writes that the proposal "creates the very real possibility that under the auspices of this grant program, discrimination will be introduced into classrooms across the country."
Nicole Neily, founder and president of Parents Defending Education, told Campus Reform that the letter is a result of volunteers who are "the tip of the spear, out there, on the front lines, going to their school board meetings. These are all groups that have sprung up to address political indoctrination in schools."
Neily says she's seen exponential growth in parents looking to address Critical Race Theory, often driven by events happening at the local level. She cited a school district near Austin, Texas that "went to the state legislature saying, 'We cannot afford a crossing guard for our local elementary school,' and then they spent six figures on a racial equity consultant."
Neily says that "You should be able to critique it. but what's happening with CRT is it's presented as gospel truth. The fact that it's not able to be discussed or debated is one concern. And it is implemented in a discriminatory manner...George Wallace would be proud of what Ibram Kendi is saying."
Other commenters mentioned that their work as professors may change significantly due to the introduction of Critical Race Theory at all levels of education. While comments can be submitted anonymously, and the government system does not verify identities, Campus Reform has verified that every named faculty member here teaches or has taught at the institution claimed in their comment.
Several commenters expressed concern over the impact of incorporating Critical Race Theory into curricula:
"The 1619 Project is racist and has been debunked by actual historians of all political persuasions and it has no business being taught in any American school." - Robert C. Figueira, Professor of History, Lander University, Greenwood, SC
"It is not the role of educators, schools or the government to push a particular point of view on students. It is our job to provide a balanced curriculum and lets students develop their own views on the subject material which are consistent with their personal values and world view." - Professor Jeffery S. Wooters, Pensacola State College
Other faculty members wrote in, with varying opinions, on how this proposal could change the teaching experience:
"I am a recently retired white, straight, humanities professor with 51 years of service to one of the nation's premier HBCU's--Clark Atlanta University. In all that time I never felt like an outsider, nor was I treated as one by either students or colleagues--in short, that virtually all-black school was more color-blind than is your proposed educational mandate. Think about that, and while you're at it, please recall MLK's formula for a just and racially-harmonious nation--namely, to be judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin." - Charles F. Duncan, Ph.D. retired Professor of Humanities at Clark Atlanta University
"I am fully in support of the proposed priorities...I hold a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and I teach in my introductory college-level biology course that there is no biological basis for racial categories. My students are overwhelmingly surprised by this information and often express that they wish they had learned about this earlier on...These proposed priorities are a step in the right direction. - Rachel Johnson, Ph.D.
"As a university professor teaching graduate courses, students arrive ill-prepared to deal with critical thinking and facts. They come believing their "personal facts" are a satisfactory substitute for well-established scientific facts and are shocked when they fail exams. Please focus on essential material like learning to think critically." - Stephen Pew, Ph.D.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito