Pushing to Ban Critical Race Theory Will Foster Division, Not End It

If you’re worried about whether critical race theory is taught at your child’s school, here’s a little test you can give them to find out if they’re indoctrinated or if you’re a victim of gaslighting.

Ask them the following:

In a perfect world, it would be nice if they could answer all five questions correctly. But it is more likely that they did not understand anything. This is what makes the idea that critical race theory is taught in our schools so completely ridiculous.

Ohio lawmakers introduced a pair of bills – House Bills 322 and 327 – that seek to restrict the teaching of ‘race or gender’ concepts or topics that could be considered ‘diversifying’ . Never mind that critical race theory is a college-level legal study that educators and experts say is not taught in K-12 schools.

The Forest Hills School District School Board begins a meeting, Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Nagel Middle School in Anderson Township, Ohio.

Locally, a school district in the eastern suburbs of Cincinnati voted Wednesday to ban critical race theory, intersectionality, identity, and anti-racism curriculum from student instruction, staff training, and school practices. ‘hiring. Forest Hills School District teachers can no longer assign assignments that cause students to consider their race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or culture as exceptions. According to resolution “culture of caring”.

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Public schools have always been notoriously bad at teaching black history. So the idea that teachers are feeding kids something as complex as critical race theory when some students don’t even know the difference between Thurgood Marshall and Judge Judy (yes, a poll done there a few years found that nearly 10% of college graduates thought Judith Sheindlin served on the United States Supreme Court) should sound absurd to any reasonable, thoughtful person.

However, if you’re still not convinced that critical race theory hasn’t crept into your child’s classroom, just consider that the average American teacher is a 43-year-old white female. Nearly 80% of all American teachers are white, and the vast majority are women, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Do we really believe that these middle-aged white women feel comfortable or even qualified enough to teach such a theory?

Amy Bottomley (left), director of educational initiatives, and Christopher Miller, senior director of education and community engagement, pose for a photo at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati in May 2022.

Amy Bottomley, director of educational initiatives at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, spent time at the University of Cincinnati preparing students to become teachers. She says her biggest fear is that bills like HB 322 and 327 will cause teachers to simply avoid teaching about the role race plays in American history.

“My classes were made up of mostly white student teachers who were largely afraid to talk about these issues, to teach about race in class, or to talk about gender identity or sexual orientation in class,” Bottomley said. . “They were afraid of parents, they were afraid of being pushed away, they were afraid of getting on the news and they were afraid of not being qualified to talk about it.”

And that was before these bills were introduced in the Statehouse.

Institutions such as the Freedom Center and the Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity Center could suffer collateral damage from HB 322 and 327. Many area school districts use museums to enhance their students’ educational experience.

“This type of legislation would impact the education we do here, but more importantly, it would impact the teaching of what is the genuine truth of our history,” said Christopher Miller, director of the education and community engagement at the Freedom Center.

“The language is pretty loose,” Bottomley said. “What’s divisive and what’s not? Someone might decide they don’t want their kids to feel bad about taking a trip to the Freedom Center.”

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On average, the Freedom Center receives approximately 100,000 student visitors per year. This translates to approximately 50-60% of the museum’s total revenue. Likewise, the Holocaust Center has hosted 25,000 students so far this year, said Jodi Elowitz, director of education and engagement. Simply put, the loss of student visits would be simply devastating to both institutions.

“We know that if these bills pass, some districts won’t send students on field trips to a museum like ours for fear that it won’t be acceptable,” Elowitz said. “When we built the museum, we built it with groups of students in mind. It would hurt us a lot because our livelihood is organizing school visits. It would be a huge loss for us. .”

Elowitz said the bills could also limit the museum’s ability to provide professional development for educators and leadership programs for youth. “It would be disappointing because it is our main mission to educate, to train teachers and to train future leaders.”

Gallery guide Pat Hopson leads a class of eighth graders from St. Joseph's School at the Holocaust & Humanity Center inside the Cincinnati Museum Center in Cincinnati in February 2020.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” These bills introduced by Ohio lawmakers are dutifully stupid and will only make more Ohioans genuinely ignorant of the history that has shaped this state and our nation.

These lawmakers know full well that critical race theory is not taught in schools. And, if they’re being completely honest, they know that the accurate teaching of American history/Black history is woefully inadequate most of the time.

No one is advocating for a true retelling of history to “make white kids feel bad about being white.” Minorities, African Americans in particular, don’t want white people to feel guilty; we want them to have a conscience. Develop a better awareness that America’s past sins still reverberate today. Committing to change and progress, without trying to go back to the “good old days” that were anything but good for non-whites.

No one alive today owned slaves, so how can anyone make anyone feel bad? I certainly do not feel guilty for circumstances in which I had no influence. But we should feel the collective shame of our nation’s original sin of enslaving people. There is no honor in ignoring it, no matter how many years have passed since emancipation. Learning the truth about America’s sordid past shouldn’t make anyone feel bad personally, but it should increase our resolve to be better as a nation and as individuals, not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Senior Director of Education and Community Engagement Christopher Miller gives a tour of an exhibit at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

These bills do not do that. These tactics are a throwback to the same shameful chapters in American history that critics of critical race theory don’t want to talk about. Don’t want your kids to feel bad about their run? Don’t pass stupid laws that your children and their children will be embarrassed to say their ancestors passed.

I find it ironic that many of those in favor of these bills are the same people who argued vehemently to preserve Confederate monuments and the teaching of a discredited version of history they depict (the lost cause ). No consideration was given to how black students might be affected by teaching from this “other side”. No one seemed to care if black children felt bad to learn that their ancestors were being bought and sold, whipped and hanged, and treated like objects by traitors to this nation. I can think of few more divisive things.

HB 322 and 327 will not produce a more informed population. Instead, they would create more disillusioned and hateful Americans, like the gunman who killed 10 black people in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, because he wanted to “prevent the elimination of the white race.” These proposals to end the division will rather favor it.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati.

The bills will harm critical institutions such as the Freedom Center and the Holocaust Center. And students won’t be able to gain a broader view of the world and develop the empathy and critical thinking skills that our country will desperately need from our future leaders.

These anticritical race theory bills are alarmist at their worst and reflect a more troubling mindset. Or as Miller of the Freedom Center put it, “It comes from the root of ignorance.”

Opinion and Engagement Editor-in-Chief Kevin S. Aldridge can be reached at [email protected] Twitter: @kevaldrid.

Kevin Aldridge, opinion writer for The Enquirer

Sharon D. Cole