Giving Compass' Take:
- Brad Capener explains why children learning about racism is essential to a more just and equitable future for our society.
- What ideas are at the root of efforts to ban teaching about racism? Who suffers when history is whitewashed and sanitized? Who benefits?
- Read more about education that is honest and inclusive.
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As many of my superintendent and teacher colleagues can surely relate to, the last school year was the most challenging of my 23-year career. Our profession struggled to recover from the impacts of virtual learning and mental health concerns.
On top of that, teachers and administrators were forced to deal with an onslaught of attacks from politicians falsely claiming that our schools were teaching critical race theory, or CRT, a much-misunderstood academic framework suggesting that systemic racism is part of American society, not just the project of individual bias and prejudice.
As a superintendent, it was difficult to watch teachers trying to manage the unmanageable as false narratives about CRT spread like wildfire. The attacks leveraged misinformation to spread fear for the clear purpose of motivating the far-right base and to pass extreme and out-of-touch laws — without consideration of the costs they would have on our educators, our students and our nation.
The attacks contributed to the exodus of seasoned educators from the profession. In addition, the vitriol is causing many young prospective teachers to go into other professions.
As a result, it is our students, our children, who suffer. These attacks must stop.
What is behind this anger about a concept that is actually not even taught in schools? What is it that so many people are truly afraid of and trying to stop?
It seems to boil down to a single word: shame. In the far-right community, there is a growing and strongly held belief that efforts to talk about racism or equity in schools will make white children “feel guilt” or shame.
Republican lawmakers in over 40 states have proposed laws that have banned or would ban classroom conversations and staff training on “divisive topics,” based on the idea that our children shouldn’t have to feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”
Read the full article about teaching children about racism by Brad Capener at The Hechinger Report.