Do not believe it when you hear, “This isn’t Critical Race Theory.” It is.
Below you will read one Albemarle County parent’s assessment of the seemingly endless ties between CRT and the curriculum being taught to students in Albemarle County Public Schools.
Read this email sent to ACPS School Board on June 27, 2021:
Drs. Haas, Costa, and Members of the School Board Members,
I am writing to express my concerns over comments heard and seen (social media) from this group suggesting that the tenets of Critical Theory/Critical Race Theory are not being taught in our schools or used as underpinnings in developing policy. It has been suggested by members of the School Board and Dr. Costa, to those opposing the Courageous Conversations About Race (CCAR) curricula at Henley Middle School and the statement of “…end[ing] the predictive value of race” in the Anti-Racist Policy Statement, that we are confused by the acronym, CRT and are misunderstanding that the school is embracing Culturally Responsive Teaching instead of Critical Race Theory. We are not confused.
In reviewing the Anti-Racism Policy landing page on the ACPS website, there is a section that allows me (or anyone) to assess whether I am an Anti-Racist apparently by ACPS standards (Am I an Anti-Racist) and I find this extremely concerning and telling as its contents prove that Critical blank Theory (insert: Race, Identity, Feminist, Gender, Queer, Social etc) are the basis of this ideology. I provide documentation of my concern below and evidence that ACPS curriculum in this matter is harmful to my children, unethical, and illegal under the United States Constitution.
The Anti-Racism Definitions from a Human Rights Framework that are hyperlinked within the ACPS “Am I an Anti-Racist” document as sourced material are textbook Critical Race Theory ideology. The suggested reading list and sources used to compile this document for which the ACPS Anti-Racist Policy and associated curricula are constructed, are clearly documented to be of these ideologies:
1. Williams, Kimberle Crenshaw. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color” Stanford Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 6 (Jul., 1991), pp. 1241-1299 [original source, page 9 of this document]; a few excerpts to illustrate my point:
One needs to look no further than the introduction and acknowledgments to see the following:
A) "Feminist academics and activists have played a central role in forwarding an ideological and institutional challenge to the practices that condone and perpetuate violence against women" (footnote #1, page 1240).
B) "This article arises out of and is inspired by two emerging scholarly discourses. The first is critical race theory." (footnote #3, page 1242).
C) "Although there are significant political and conceptual obstacles to moving against structures of domination with an intersectional sensibility, my point is that the effort to do so should be a central theoretical and political objective of both antiracism and feminism.” (Footnote #4, page 1243)
D) "I consider intersectionality a provisional concept linking contemporary politics with postmodern theory. In mapping the intersections of race and gender, the concept does engage dominant assumptions that race and gender are essentially separate categories. By tracing the categories to their intersections, I hope to suggest a methodology that will ultimately disrupt the tendencies that see race and gender as exclusive or separable. While the primary intersections that I explore here are between race and gender, the concept can and should be expanded by factoring in issues such class, sexual orientation, age, and color." (Footnote #9, pages 1244-1245)
2. Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. Paula S.Rothenberg (ed). 6th Edition.Worth, 2004Structure of the Book (Pg. 2)“…race, class, gender, and sexuality have been socially constructed in the United States as “different” in the form of hierarchy. Part I treats the idea of difference itself as a social construct , one that underlies and grounds racism, sexism, class privilege and homophobia.”
3. Living Chicana Theory. Carla Trujillo (ed). Third Woman Press,1998
The title alone references Theory.
From this Google Book Review (method used when ACPS evaluates new textbooks for curricula) provides the following:
“Twenty-one Chicana scholars and writers create theory through fiction, performance, and essays. They address the secrets, inequities, and issues they all confront in their daily negotiations with a system that often seeks to subvert their very existence. They have to struggle daily not only with the racism that pervades our lives, but also with the overwhelming male domination of the “macho” Chicano and Mexican culture.”
4. Sister Outsider. Audre Lorde. The Crossing Press, 1984.
From this Google Book Review and sample of the text: on page 2 of the Introduction, it states the goal of publishing this text was in part to “elevate the importance of Lorde’s published essays and speeches, which have served as a foundation and catalyst for theorizing by scholars and activists in relation to questions about identity, difference, power, social movements and social justice for more than twenty-five years.”
5. Women, Race and Class. Angela Y. Davis. Vintage Books, 1983.
6. Are Prisons Obsolete? Angela Y. Davis. Seven Stories Press, 2003.
Both of these texts are authored by a Critical theorist, self-proclaimed Marxist and member of the Communist Party, USA. These ideologies are incompatible with liberalism.
I am finding it exceedingly difficult to understand how it can be denied that Critical Theory (e.g., Critical Race Theory, Critical Gender/Queer Theory, Critical Social Theory, Critical Feminine Theory, etc) is not the underpinning of your Anti-Racist “work.”
Requests and Action Items:
1. I recall that during the Board Meeting held on May 27, 2021 (1:32:18 in recorded meeting), Mr. Paige asked if the Board or staff could provide a statement to ensure that Critical Race Theory is not a part ACPS curriculum. Dr. Haas stated that he would investigate that possibility. I would like to request a status on that statement and/or where it can be located?
2. Additionally, according to the information provided by ACPS to determine if I am an Anti-Racist, I, identifying as a white person, would need to avoid saying and demonstrate 25 qualities in order to comply or be an ally. I would like to ask for your thoughts on how these documents/statements are not in violation of the 1st and 14th amendment of the US Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, if forced upon anyone to be in compliance?
1) Per ACPS guidance, there are at least 17 “usual statements” that I am not supposed/allowed to say as I check my “white privilege” and number 18 is apparently anything that a Person of Color deems to be racist in nature. (Pg. 4 ) Such usual statements are "Also known as “What people of color never want to hear again” from white people engaging in discussions about racism. The following are just a few statements commonly heard during anti-racism trainings. This list is not exhaustive but is meant to be used as a guideline for ‘what not to say’ for white people who are sincerely working on their white privilege.” (Pg. 4)
Among many other phrases I or my son is not permitted to say in school, this list prohibits White people from saying “I will only talk if everyone is respectful” and “talking about racism takes the focus off of [women’s issues, the environment, classism, etc.].” These documents must be removed or amended to be in compliance with the law and ACPS policy that requires open and respectful discourse.
2) I cannot self identify as an Anti-Racist Ally, rather I have to earn a “white ally badge” from a Person(s) of Color and that “badge” expires at the end of the day and can only be re-issued/renewed by a person of color (Pg. 14)
3) I cannot debate any form of perceived racism as long as it experienced by a Person of Color (Pg. 14)
3. At the conclusion of the June 10, 2021 Board meeting, several members of the School Board seemed to not have working knowledge of the CCAR curriculum. Ms. Lee stated that “I don’t know a lot about the program, but I feel like it is pretty operational.” Mr. Alcaro stated that he “didn’t really know when that [the rollout] happened, I don’t recall hearing about it ahead of time.” Mr. Paige asked the Board to review the slide decks, if they hadn’t, as to imply that the material may not have been previously reviewed. How can these members fully understand the concerns of parents/citizens opposing this method of teaching? I have concerns that this lack of information may be in violation of the Research Projects and Pilot Program Policy, albeit written vaguely, but nonetheless demonstrates that the authoritative body (School Board) we are requesting help from, do not fully understand the issues at hand. At the very least, there seems to be a violation of the Teaching of Controversial Issues Policy unless this does not apply to pilot programs, as from my review of the 8th grade slide deck -units 3/4 specifically, there was no provision of “wide range of views.” Please provide confirmation that the School Board is familiar with the CCAR curriculum, has approved its use, and that the curriculum does not violate the Research Projects and Pilot Program Policy and Teaching of Controversial Issues Policy.
4. Dr. Acoff suggested that the majority of the speakers spoke in favor of the CCAR program during the meeting and if I am not mistaken, the numbers of public commenters were pretty evenly matched, with perhaps one more speaking in favor of this curriculum. Additionally, she stated that “we have crafted an Anti-Racist Policy for a reason, and the reason is that racism in our schools directly interferes with our academic mission.” I would like to review the data informing Dr. Acoff’s conclusion; specifically, may I see the data utilized by ACPS that proves causation in terms of how racism interferes with our academic mission (beyond achievement gaps which are automatically assumed to be secondary racism)?
5. Dr. Haas mentioned that the SEAT Committee meeting to discuss these issues was advertised for quite some time, yet only had nine attendees. This level of attendance is a problem, no matter who attended and would suggest that the advertisement methods were not effective. I would like to ask where the information about this meeting was advertised and for how long such that I don’t miss them in the future? I do not have records of texts or emails from ACPS, nor do I see it on the ACPS Communication Page for Community Messages. This information is not easily located on the ACPS website or even via simple Google search in the Daily Progress or local TV news media websites. It is noted that this Committee is comprised of 10 high school students, so were there any attendees besides the Committee members and advisor?
I would like to make it abundantly clear that I abhor racism of any kind and believe wholeheartedly that every single person is worthy of the same level of respect and opportunity in an inclusive community. Educators should teach students how to respect one another and themselves, how to build healthy and positive relationships across difference, and foster resilience in having difficult conversations around difference that honors shared humanity. Using Critical Theory however, which is not evidence-based nor grounded in empirical research and which divides, categorizes, and labels, is not the right method to achieve your end goal. I fear, as do many, that history will unfortunately prove that it causes more harm. Please change course! I look forward to your responses.