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Critical race theory controversy comes to Colorado with effort to ban it from education, training

District 49 to discuss resolution Thursday
Critical Race Theory Teachers
Posted at 7:44 AM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 12:23:54-04

A Colorado Springs area school district is on track to become the first in the state to ban the teaching of critical race theory, also called CRT. Falcon District 49 will discuss a resolution at a Board of Education meeting Thursday night.

Among other things, the resolution states that schools may not utilize critical race theory or antiracism curriculum for student education or any staff training, schools may not use race as a consideration when hiring, neither schools nor instructors should have students participate in class or complete assignments on the basis of race, and schools may not force individuals to admit privilege or to “reflect,” “deconstruct,” or “confront” their racial identity.

The board expects to vote on the resolution on Aug. 12.

The president of the D49 Board of Education, John Graham, sent a statement to Denver7 saying in part, “The goals of the resolution are to comply with anti-discrimination laws, value each person's uniqueness, as well as to promote equality under the law. This resolution will not remove discussions of race, race relations, age-appropriate history to include slavery, civil war, civil rights, and many other topic areas from the classroom. It will prevent us from judging and dividing against each other based on race.”

While no K-12 schools in Colorado currently teach critical race theory, the term has become a hot button topic at school board meetings around the country this summer. A number of school boards have voted to ban critical race theory from educational programs and staff training. Parents and community members have also brought up critical race theory at school board meetings in Colorado. Dozens of people spoke about it during a June 1 meeting of the Cherry Creek Board of Education as the board was discussing the district’s social studies curriculum. In Douglas County, a new equity policy has also sparked comparisons to critical race theory.

Critical race theory is an academic discipline that looks at how racism has shaped the United States legal system and other government and social institutions and policies. University of Colorado Boulder ethnic studies professor Jennifer Ho said the discipline would mostly likely be found in law schools and graduate level courses.

“I've never encountered a critical race theory class in the K-12 system,” Ho said.

Ho called the national conversation about critical race theory a “moral panic” that conservative activists are pushing for political gains. She said it’s appropriate for K-12 students to learn about racism and the realities of America’s history.

“It’s entirely appropriate for students to be learning about the Trail of Tears, the transatlantic slave trade, the Japanese American incarceration during World War II; learning about these facts of U.S. history doesn't mean that you don't love America or that we should hate white people,” Ho said.

The Colorado Academic Standards for history at the high school level allows schools to “examine and evaluate issues of unity and diversity,” including “the systemic impact of racism and nativism, role of patriotism, expansion of rights, and the role of religion.”

The Colorado Department of Education is currently reviewing social studies curriculum as part of a bill that passed in 2019 called “Inclusion of American Minorities in Teaching Civil Government.” The bill directs schools to teach the historic and social contributions of American Indians, Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans and LGBTQ individuals.