- As Georgia considers an anti-Critical Race Theory bill, those critical of the legislation continue to argue that the ideology is not being taught at the K-12 level, yet numerous examples suggest otherwise, according to conservative activists.
- Georgia State Rep. Brad Thomas introduced HB 888 on Jan. 12, which would limit public schools’ state funding if they teach students that “the United States is a systemically racist country.”
- Public school leaders across the state deny allegations that CRT is taught in K-12 classrooms, but their critics believe the ideology’s tenets are embedded in the way many educators are trained and instructed to teach.
- Tarece Johnson has openly espoused tenets of CRT in a TikTok video she posted, where she argued “we all live in a society that is founded on the oppression of black and brown people, because we live in a society that glorifies whiteness.”
As Georgia considers an anti-Critical Race Theory bill, those critical of the legislation continue to argue that the ideology is not being taught at the K-12 level, but numerous examples suggest otherwise, according to conservative activists.
Georgia State Rep. Brad Thomas introduced HB 888 on Jan. 12, which would limit public schools’ state funding if they teach students that “the United States is a systemically racist country.”
The bill says no school board members, public school administrators, teachers or personnel can compel an individual to affirm or adhere to concepts that teach “individuals of any race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin are inherently superior or inferior” or that “individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin bear collective guilt and are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.”
HB 888 would also promote “transparency” by giving members of the public access to public school curriculum so parents know what their children are learning, according to Heritage Action.
“As school districts across Georgia move forward with instituting social justice programs and placing employment ads for diversity, equity, and inclusion specialists, parents throughout this state are waking up to the reality that Critical Race Theory is becoming a part of our academic discipline,” Thomas said. “I am very pleased to have partnered with Heritage Action’s team of policy specialists to develop this piece of legislation that will stop this divisive ideology from being embedded in our public school system, and I look forward to working on the passage of this bill this legislative session.”
Critical Race Theory (CRT) holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies. (RELATED: Over Half Of Americans Don’t Think Schools Need To Teach About The Ongoing Impact Of Slavery And Racism)
During his Jan. 14, State of the State Address, Gov. Brian Kemp said he was concerned with “those who want to divide our kids along political lines, push partisan agendas, and indoctrinate students from all walks of life.”
“I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly this legislative session to protect our students from divisive ideologies — like Critical Race Theory — that pit kids against each other,” Kemp said.
In June, 2021, at the behest of Kemp, the Georgia State Board of Education passed a resolution that states “the United States of America is not a racist country, and that the state of Georgia is not a racist state.”
The language of the resolution is nearly identical to HB 888. It instructs public education institutions that they should not teach students that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that an individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive whether consciously or unconsciously because of their race or sex.
Thomas told the Daily Caller News Foundation that his proposed anti-CRT legislation protects against compelled speech, which is a violation of the First Amendment. But he stressed history as an important aspect of public education, as long as it is taught in an “unbiased and non-politically charged way.
“We don’t want indoctrination,” he said. “We do not want divisive concepts being taught to our kids.”
Thomas said he didn’t use the term “Critical Race Theory” in the legislation because educators could easily disguise the ideology under a different name. Instead, he said his goal with the legislation is to target the tenets, or the guiding principles and beliefs behind CRT.
School Districts Teaching Tenets Of Critical Race Theory
Public school leaders across the state deny allegations that CRT is taught in K-12 classrooms, but their critics believe the ideology’s tenets are embedded in the way many educators are trained and instructed to teach. As the state legislature attempts to ban what Thomas refers to as “divisive concepts,” school districts across the state have been criticized for their race-based curriculum, according to examples compiled by Heritage Action and shared with the DCNF.
Atlanta-area DeKalb County School District (DCSD) hosted a Black Lives Matter Week of Action during the week of Jan. 31 and Feb. 4. Students in third, fourth and fifth grade were taught that “environmental racism” exists and were instructed to describe their identities based on characteristics such as gender, race, religion and ability. The page on the district website describing the week’s events appears to have been taken down, but DCSD did not respond to the DCNF’s request for an explanation.
The BLM “Week of Action,” which schools across the country participated in, adheres to the since-deleted 13 “Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles.” The principles define terms such as “globalism,” or “our ability to see how we are impacted or privileged within the Black global family” and “Black Villages” which is described as “the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the ‘collective village’ that takes care of each other.” (RELATED: Denver Elementary School To Hold BLM Event Teaching Kindergarteners, First Graders To Disrupt The ‘Nuclear Family,’ Recognize ‘Trans-Antagonistic Violence’)
The Left is pushing already trying to spread lies about GA State Rep .@BradforHD21's legislation (HB 888) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the state of Georgia.— Heritage Action (@Heritage_Action) January 27, 2022
For the facts on this bill, check out our myth vs. fact sheet.⬇️https://t.co/RGxqbxmZt5
The chair of the Gwinnett Public Schools (GPS) school board, Dr. Tarece Johnson has openly espoused tenets of CRT in a TikTok video she posted, where she argued “we all live in a society that is founded on the oppression of black and brown people, because we live in a society that glorifies whiteness.”
Johnson said everyone is impacted by systemic racism in different ways with white people acting as “socialized racists” while black people “internalize this racism.”
“White people have privilege just because of the color of their skin,” she added. “They have certain advantages that black people and brown people do not have. Because of societal racism, we have organizations that are structurally racist.”
In a tweet thread, that Johnson has limited, she used the #CRT hashtag multiple times to share her belief “that the history of the confederate South still permeates our modern society” and “the disparities and disadvantages of non-white people” indicate that “America is a racist county.”
“As reflected in the Georgia State Board of Education’s CRT resolution, Georgia is a racist State where white fragility, privilege, and power reign supreme This is past and present.
#CRT,” the thread concluded.
Despite her assertions, district leaders continue to deny that CRT is being taught in GPS’ schools.
Johnson is one of 12 Atlanta area school leaders who signed an open letter to the Georgia Legislature asking leaders not to pass HB 888, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The educators deny that CRT is being taught and believe the legislation is an attack on free speech, an insult to teachers, an effort to cancel “public education as we know it” and negatively impact “educators’ ability to teach truthfully.”
The legislation is an attempt “to leverage the manufactured outrage around CRT to whitewash our history by placing legal constraints on what educators can say about racism past and present,” the letter said.
Johnson did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
A syllabus that was on the GPS website told students in an AP Language class to analyze “the value of using different lenses in social criticism (Critical Race Theory, Feminist, Marxist, Psychoanalytic) to aid their analysis across issues, and the class will discuss how these perspectives apply to the different methods used by research fields.”
On Jan. 27, the district scrubbed the syllabus from its website after it attracted attention from the media and the GCPS community.
“This syllabus was submitted to College Board by a teacher as part of the AP course audit process three, possibly four, years ago,” GPS’s Executive Director of Communication and Media Relations Sloan Roach told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“In this case, a reference to “critical race theory” was included in the audit syllabus but the teacher did not include it in the actual class syllabus and did not teach CRT,” she added.
Roach said CRT is not part of GPS’ curriculum and was removed as soon as its availability on GPS’ website was brought to the district’s attention.
In a Feb. 2 statement, GCPS’ Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts doubled down on the district’s assertion that CRT is not being taught and claimed Heritage Action “shared misinformation … purporting that our school district teaches CRT and that we have taken steps to hide it.”
John Okechukwu Nwosu Jr, a counselor at Garrett Middle School in the Cobb County School District (CCSD), said “some groups end up doing better than others” because of teachers who “identify things in black children that they don’t in white children, who are exhibiting the same behaviors.”
He said after he discusses implicit bias in his job, he brings up the “explicit stuff because the part that is often left out is the critical race theory part, the part about the fact that our country was built on racism and the fact that that stuff still exists today.”
CCSD voted to ban CRT “by that name and any other names” as well as The New York Times’ 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, which promotes the idea that America’s “true founding” occurred in 1619 when slaves arrived in the colonies and frames the history of the country around race and slavery. (RELATED: Virginia’s Parents Revolted Against CRT In Schools. This Is What Their Kids Were Being Taught)
Former CCSD counselor Jennifer Susko resigned in protest after the school board passed the anti-CRT resolution, according to her resignation letter.
“Since the ban on CRT conflates many approaches and practices related to antiracism, Cobb County School District is asking me to violate my school counseling ethics” and “obfuscate history,” Susko said in her resignation letter. “Paying homage to Nikole Hannah-Jones, I refuse.”
Susko also said that by removing CRT from Georgia schools, she would be forced to violate “The School Counselor and Anti-Racist Practices” as laid out by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). The practices purport that racism exists throughout all American institutions and instructs counselors to “promote equity for all,” “engage in anti-racist actions” and “dismantle systems of oppression.”
Advocates Of Anti-CRT Legislation Argue Teaching The Ideology’s Tenets Is A Violation Of Law And Morality
Heritage Foundation fellow and CRT expert Mike Gonzalez called it a lie when teachers, schools, districts and school boards say CRT is not being taught.
While they might not be reading the essays of prominent CRT scholars, “they’re implementing the ideas and the tenets of critical race theory,” he said.
As an example, he explained that when teachers compel students to embrace topics or concepts such as systemic racism or white privilege, “claim that these things exist [as fact]” and a student disagrees, they could receive a lower grade or “get dinged” on test.
“That is compelled speech and a political issue,” he said.
Teaching CRT and its tenets violates laws such as the Civil Rights Act, Title VI, the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment, Gonzalez said.
He also argued that it is immoral to teach “non-white kids that they can not succeed in America, that they will never be equal to whites, or that punctuality or loving to read and write are white things.”
“They should not be saying to white kids that by virtue of the race that we’re born into that they are racist,” he said.
In response to the claim that many anti-CRT laws banning the ideology from schools are “too broad” or restrict thought, Gonzalez argued many of them are “quite specific.” Although he agreed it is “a bad idea to ban an idea” or to ban the teaching of dark aspects of history.
“Children should be exposed to communism, children should be exposed to fascism, children should be exposed to Adolf Hitler, children should be exposed to the evils that man is capable of committing and has committed in the past,” he said. What he said anti-CRT bills do is “ban violations of law.”
Other critics of anti-CRT bills, such as journalist Andrew Sullivan, believe the bills are well intentioned, but don’t actually ban CRT.
“They contain wording to constrain the kind of teaching that is built on CRT that is far too vague, could constrain speech in countless unforeseen ways, and are pretty close to unenforceable. (When people are proposing body-cameras for teachers, you know they’ve gone off the edge.),” he said in an article titled “Don’t Ban CRT. Expose It.” “Most of these bills, to make things worse, strike me as unconstitutional. And they cede the higher ground.”
“What parents and principled teachers of all races can do is protest, show up to school board meetings, demand accountability and total transparency, share and spread the evidence of this indoctrination, demand answers from teachers and principals, and, if all else fails, pull their kids from public schools if necessary,” he added.
Another journalist, Robby Soave argues many critics are correct that CRT “as defined by the people who actually coined the term” is not being taught in K-12 classrooms. (RELATED: ‘Free Speech Advocates’ Panic Over Parents’ Push For More Curriculum Transparency)
“This means that Republican legislative efforts to protect kids from CRT are actually targeting a wide swath of only semi-related progressive concepts,” he said in his article “Critical Race Theory Can’t Be Banned. It Can Be Exposed, Mocked, and Avoided.” “These bills are almost uniformly heavy-handed, and in some cases represent active threats to freedom of expression in the classroom.”
The problem is that semi-related CRT concepts have trickled down into K-12 instruction that “educators are themselves receiving,” which he said “is a hard issue for the legislature to overcome.”
Teachers across, the U.S. have vowed to “Teach the Truth” as “Lawmakers in at least 27 states are attempting to pass legislation that would require teachers to lie to students about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and oppression throughout U.S. history,” according to the pledge.
They argue anti-CRT legislation aims “to prohibit teachers from teaching the truth about this country: It was founded on dispossession of Native Americans, slavery, structural racism and oppression; and structural racism is a defining characteristic of our society today” and vowed to continue teaching these concepts despite any state legislation prohibiting them from doing so.
“The equality of every person, opportunity for all, and the idea that people should be judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin are the hallmarks of our shared American values,” Executive Director Jessica Anderson said. “Critical race theory rejects these values, instead tying one’s inherent value to their skin color and seeking to dismantle our American institutions of government charged with securing our God-given rights.”
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