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“Critical Race Theory,” the phrase that made headlines and fueled news cycles, was once relegated to the halls of science. But with the spread of CRT and related ideas in school districts, so too did the demographics of people discussing its effects.
Ideas related to CRT have been highlighted in controversial materials depicting what mothers see as a very real threat to their children’s futures. Despite controversy, portrayed by some as manufactured, the battle for CRT has thrown a long list of concerned parents into the public space.
From Oregon to Rhode Island to, perhaps best known, Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, mothers have urged local officials for answers and formed organizations dedicated to combating racist content. “When these dedicated mothers hear from their children that they are afraid to speak up in class, for fear of harassment, discipline, or being reported for bias in the new LCPS online reporting system, it motivates them to go out and like hell to fight for their children, “said Ian Prior, a father who runs the PAC and focuses on the school board of Loudoun County Public Schools.
WHAT IS CRITICAL RACING THEORY?
Prior’s group has worked with mothers in Loudoun County for months to call back several school board members who were part of a controversial Facebook group promoting left-wing ideas. Fox News has spoken to dozens of parents who have collectively pointed out a pattern where top administrators urge “justice” to be blind. While the term has grown in popularity among the left, survivors of more left-wing governments warn of its potentially disastrous consequences.
“We teach our children to fight for social justice and to hate our country and our history,” said Xi Van Fleet at a school committee meeting in Virginia this week.
She added, “Growing up in China, it all sounds very familiar to me. The communist regime uses the same critical theory to divide people. The only difference is that class is used instead of race. This is, in fact, the American version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. “
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Like them, mothers Monica Gill and Natassia Grover raised concerns about the ideological basis of these materials at the Tuesday meeting.
Outside of Virginia, mothers in Ohio, California, and Florida have resisted.
On Thursday, Florida’s mother Quisha King denied the idea that CRT was about “racial sensitivity, or just teaching an unfavorable American story or teaching Jim Crow story”.
“CRT,” she said at a school board meeting, “is deeper and more dangerous than that. CRT and the way it works today is a doctrine that there is a hierarchy in society where white male, straight, healthy people are viewed as oppressors become. and everyone else outside of that status is oppressed. She continued, “I don’t know about you, but to tell my child or any other child that they are in a permanent oppressed status in America because they are black, it is racist – and to say that they are white People are automatically above me, my children, or every child is also racist. That is not what we can stand for in our country. “
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Defining CRT is notoriously difficult, as even its founder suggested that it lacks permanent outlines. Because of this, King’s Governor Ron DeSantis alluded to racial segregation rather than explicitly saying “critical racial theory” in the rule that he proposed at Thursday’s school council meeting.
Defenders of the controversial content argue that it helps promote understanding between racial groups and break down systemic barriers to inclusion.
“The pursuit of justice in education seeks to realize fundamental commitments to belonging, the idea of ’freedom and justice for all’ and to ensure that the ‘we’ in ‘We the People’ is great and truly includes each and every student Family in the community, “Oregon Department of Education spokesman Marc Siegel said. He defended a series of department-sponsored events with 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah Jones.
“The experiences of black students and families can and must be focused on our state, including the abundance of black histories and black futures,” he added.
LCPS superintendent Scott Ziegler also defended teacher training, saying, “In explaining LCPS’s equity priorities, it might be helpful to say what they are not. You are not trying to indoctrinate students and staff into any particular philosophy or theory. What? they are an effort to provide a welcoming, inclusive, and affirming environment for all students. ”
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Mothers build the infrastructure to fight CRT in schools
These mothers’ anger means more than just mic dropping moments at school board meetings – they organize too. Since the CRT became more popular, mothers have founded or used grassroots organizations to oppose CRT and the ideas that go with it. Fathers like Ian Prior and Scott Mineo are also joining the fight, who each founded anti-CRT organizations last year.
At the head of the investigative side of the anti-CRT struggle is Nicole Neily, a lawyer and mother of two who founded Parents Defending Education (PDE). Led by former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Nomani, a mother of one child, Neily’s group has riddled school systems across the country with numerous requests for public documents. Some of these have led to national news coverage, as seen by another PDE leader and mother, Erika Sanzi, with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last month.
Other outspoken mothers – such as Rachel Pisani, Tatiana Ibrahim, Elicia Brand, and Shawntel Cooper – have also discussed the topic on Fox News.
Nomani is based in Virginia, which has seen an explosion of controversial ideas about race. Earlier this year, Fox News reported on a proposed framework for math that aimed to achieve racial justice by blocking math acceleration. Similar ideas emerged in California and Oregon, where two mother-founded groups – Oregonians for Liberty and Educators for Quality and Equality – worked to uncover them. Both Lori Meyers of the latter and Kim Walters of the former said they started the groups last year in response to CRT.
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According to Nomani, the PDE has made dozen of requests for public records, conducted 20 in-depth investigations in school districts, and receives 100-200 reports a week. The PDE is also filing federal complaints that are likely to face an uphill battle under President Biden but could nonetheless reveal additional information. Her group also created a comment portal that helped facilitate comments on a scholarship program that has been criticized as a way for the Biden government to promote CRT. Nomani told Fox News that her group enabled more than 11,000 out of 34,000 comments.
Controversial ideas about race have also surfaced in Virginia’s so-called “social-emotional” learning standards as well as efforts to lower standards in the state. Alongside PDE, Nomani leads the coalition for TJ, a group of parents suing the best high school in the country for lowering entry requirements in an alleged plan to suppress admission in Asia. Another lawsuit was filed by Mineo and Patti Hildalgo-Menders, who runs Loudoun County women’s republican club. They claim that an LCPS stock ambassador program racially discriminated against their children and violated their right to freedom of expression.
Further south, several mothers are trying to check what they see as ideological influences on their schools. Vicky Manning, a member of the Virginia Beach School Board and mother of two, recently tabled a resolution banning ideas related to CRT. She also started a blog exposing an “anti-racist” book study at a local school. Closer to Richmond, mother Yael Levin leads the state’s No Left Turn in Education chapter – an anti-CRT organization founded last year by another mother, Dr. Elana Yaron Fishbein, was founded.
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In Ohio, two mothers – Amy González and Andrea Gross – lead the Pro-CA coalition, which proposes various reforms to the Columbus Academy.
It is difficult to fully represent mothers who fight CRT as many of them, like skeptical teachers, fear retaliation for speaking up on the issue.
Like Nomani, Rhode Island mother Nicole Solas has filed a number of public record requests out of concern for her daughter who is starting kindergarten. She filed so many – allegedly more than 200 – that her school board considered asking a court to intervene. A vote by the school committee ended this, while the chairman and vice chairman of the committees resigned from their leadership positions.
In Loudoun, perhaps CRT’s most prominent battlefield, the controversy has pitted residents against each other. Many of them have criticized alleged intimidation by others in the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County Facebook group.
Members of the Facebook group allegedly tried to outsmart CRT opponents, which increased national attention to the county. Some LCPS board members belong to the group, but the extent of their involvement in various activities remains unclear. They were charged with tacit attempts to intimidate CRT opponents.
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One of the board’s critics is Elizabeth Perrin, who spoke at public meetings and helped with Prior’s recall efforts.
“There are people out there who want these people to be called back, they are fed up with this agenda being imposed on our children, and they cannot politicize our children any further,” she previously told Fox & Friends First. These are our children and this is their education and we must continue to teach them ethics, morals and values that are shared at home and not in schools. “