School advisers discuss in workshop how to avoid label of critical race theory
A webcast of high-level California educators discussing how to teach critical race theory (CRT) has raised the ire of parents, teachers and organizations who’ve been told since early last summer that CRT is not being taught in K-12 schools.
The three-hour webcast, called “Demystifying Critical Race Theory | Teaching Critical Race Theory in K-12 Classrooms” created by a group known as the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (LESMC) Coalition, was live-streamed on YouTube Nov. 20. The coalition is composed of 18 core advisors and has about 70 members.
Three members of the coalition who participated in the webcast were part of an advisory committee, appointed in 2019, which developed the now state-mandated program that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in 2021 requiring ethnic studies as a requirement for high school graduation starting in the 2029–30 school year.
The process became controversial when a draft was released that excluded lessons on antisemitism and was criticized by Jewish groups.
The controversy caused a rift among educators and some left the committee to create their own “liberated” coalition.
In the webcast, coalition members admit they use CRT to develop their lessons and that the purpose is to transform students into social justice activists.
“What you will see in the lessons that follow,” one coalition member says in the webcast, “are how classroom teachers begin to use critical race theory connected to ethnic studies in a way to empower and to create social justice activists out of our students.”
Teachers don’t normally preface lessons by telling students they’re teaching critical race theory, she said. Instead they take tenets of critical race theory, she said, and make them come “alive” in the classroom as an “anti-racist project.”
The educator went on to say that one of the most important tenets of CRT for educators is that “we make an explicit commitment to changing this society in thought and in action.” CRT will change the majoritarian narrative, she continued, and “that’s why people are so afraid of it.”
The educators also discussed how to deal with the optics of the pushback from parents over CRT.
Concepts discussed in the webcast touch on “white supremacy,” for instance when NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s older white male childhood coach called him a “thug” due to his hairstyle. The educators also express support for the works of Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire, known best for his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Another lesson deals with sports teams and logos depicting native Americans. It shows a cartoon of a white sports fan displaying “Go Savages,” on his chest.
It’s unclear why the coalition posted the webcast publicly as some say educators are bending over backwards to distance themselves—due to recent public outcry—from the term “CRT” even when they are fully deploying it in their classrooms.
By Brad Jones