As critical race theory (CRT) continues to plague the nation’s K-12 public schools, parents, school boards, and educators discuss its presence in the classroom. While we should examine the implementation of CRT, we must also trace how this knowledge is transferred to educators. By shedding more light on the origins of CRT, before it reaches the classroom, we will be better able to protect our students from radical anti-American ideologies.
Educators do not simply wake up one morning and decide to teach their students revisionist history. Educators are trained to teach such ideas through their professional development, which includes training from their colleagues, attendance at seminars and conferences, and courses offered by private providers. Texas educators must obtain 150 hours of professional development to renew their teaching certificate. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) allows public educators to receive these professional development hours from a list of pre-approved private providers, which includes nearly 1,000 private companies, nonprofits, professional membership associations, and individuals. However, despite the large number of providers, only a small minority of them do not include traces of critical race theory in their “professional development,” leaving educators with few options.
One TEA-approved provider, the Texas Alliance of Black School Educators (TABSE), held their 2021 Joint State Conference with a focus on “Equity, Social Justice and Restorative Practices,” in which educators acquire skills through various workshop sessions. Session offerings included “CRT in a Post-George Floyd Society,” “Systemic Oppression: Effects on Policy, Culture, Academic and Behavioral Outcomes,” and “Teaching Social Justice to Elementary Children.” These courses are not professional development but instead divisive concepts that educators will embed in your child’s education.
Another TEA-approved provider, Conscious Education Consulting, LLC, allows educators to earn professional development credits upon attending courses like “The Anti-Racist Teacher: From Awareness to Ally to Co-Conspirator,” which helps “educators who are committed to interrupting the status-quo of racial inequity in schools gain the self-reflective practice of acknowledging their own position in a racist society.” These courses are based on poor standards of civics education and the false premise that the United States is a racist country. Classroom teachers do not need training to make them social justice warriors. Instead, public school educators should be empowering our students to practice civil discourse, think logically, and develop their own opinions.
The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) is another TEA-approved professional development provider, whose membership includes over 7,000 Texas school board members. TASB provides new and continuing school board members with trainings on a variety of topics, such as accelerated learning and school safety. However, TASB also offers professional development through courses like “Promoting Equity: Five Strategies for Addressing Microaggressions and Bias in Schools,” which teaches “best practices to support [a] school’s efforts to maintain racial and gender fairness.” Such courses are based on the premise that members of one race are inherently racist and view themselves as superior to other groups, whether consciously or not. The TEA should not approve professional development that promotes racist ideologies, and better training options must be provided to school board members and educators.
In March 2020, civil rights champion and former Congressman John Lewis delivered remarks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Lewis urged all who listened, “We got to make America better for all of her people. When no one is left out or left behind, because of their race, their color, because of where they grew up, or where they were born…We’re one people, we’re one family.”
CRT is the antithesis to Lewis’ vision for America and reverses the triumphant victories of the Civil Rights Movement. Teachers and school board members deserve professional development that focuses on improving the quality of education—not professional development that trains educators to treat students that their future is limited by the color of their skin.
Educators’ professional development should train educators to teach the truth about America; it is our nation’s celebration of cultural differences and abundance of opportunities that allow all students to have a prosperous future. By combatting critical race theory before it reaches the classroom, we shall overcome.