Lipstick on a pig: Critical Race Theory debate rages


I feel terrible for public schools because they’re caught in a critical race theory crossfire brought on by our fabricated sad, continued, and endless culture wars. As such, school districts across the country are issuing statements about how critical race theory has no place in their curriculum.

That seems to placate the voices who don’t even know what CRT is yet seem compelled to fight against it. Here’s what these voices don’t seem to know or understand:

CRT isn’t in curriculum at the K-12 level.

So while these voices might think they’ve somehow found a victory, they have not. They’ve succeeded in getting a statement that doesn’t in the least change how teachers interact with their classes and answer student’s questions.

They’ve gotten lipstick on a pig.

Take Springboro, the latest local district to release a CRT statement that said, in part, “The district has not and will not support or implement CRT into its curriculum on any grade level.”

Here’s what the statement didn’t say. Springboro has never made CRT a formal part of its curriculum. Scott Marshall, Springboro’s spokesperson, said in an email, “The statement, pertaining to CRT, is not an attempt to tell teachers how to frame their discussions. Organic, classroom discussions can often occur, and are encouraged with any given topic.”

And that’s the point that most people aren’t getting. If a student has a question about the impact past discrimination has on groups of color today, that’s an organic discussion. If a student asks a teacher to explain CRT and why it’s such a big deal, that’s an organic discussion. In no way are school districts trying to stop discussions of race, which seems to be the real goal of these anti-CRT efforts.

So those voices are trying to cut off a discussion that wasn’t taking place but has now found the spotlight. Kids are curious and you can bet that, across our school districts, someone is going to ask about it.

And when they do, and when the discussions happen, the howls of angst will rain down on school districts that want no part of the culture wars.

This is what Randi Weingarten, the American Federation of Teacher’s president, said during a virtual conference on July 6:

“Let’s be clear: Critical race theory is not taught in elementary schools or high schools. It’s a method of examination taught in law school and college that helps analyze whether systemic racism exists — and, in particular, whether it has an effect on law and public policy. But culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism, or discrimination as CRT to try to make it toxic. They are bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history.”

That’s the crux of it and it’s not going to work.

The next front will form when one of those organic discussions takes place. What are teachers supposed to do? Tell the class, “I can’t talk about race because it makes some people uncomfortable?” or do what educators do — have a thoughtful discussion and a teachable moment.

The latter is the most likely, and right, outcome.

I don’t believe CRT should be in K-12 curriculum because the theory and subsequent enhancements are far too complex for that age. It would be like trying to have a discussion on Pascal’s wager or Simulacrum and Simulations with 14-year-olds.

And for those worried about indoctrination, nonsense. There is no groundswell — and there shouldn’t be — of educators who want to teach that white people of today are responsible for the past and should feel ashamed about who they are. Taken from a purely racial standpoint, just seven percent of Ohio’s teachers are of color, according to the Ohio Department of Education; and just 20% of teachers across the country are of color, with most concentrated in urban areas, according to the US Department of Education.

Where is this groundswell of indoctrination supposed to come from?

Once again, politicians have succeeded in taking a non-issue, creating outrage and claiming “victory” when some of their adherents get a poor school board to make a statement that means little.

What they’re really getting is lipstick on a pig.

Ray Marcano is a long-time journalist whose column appears every Sunday on these pages.

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