The first month of the New Year has brought no respite for the political Colosseum, where arduous battles rage. George Santos stands triumphant amidst the crumbling Democratic defenses that vainly try to chip away at his lies. Kevin McCarthy stands even firmer in the face of the Radical Right's onslaught, refusing to bow and accepting every challenge with unyielding resilience.
Now we enter a new fight where the battle lines are drawn: the Little Rock Education Association (LREA) faces off against Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Reacting to her recent executive orders and inflammatory comments, the LREA issued a strongly worded statement, vowing to unite against her oppressive policies.
In her executive order, titled "Executive Order to Prohibit Indoctrination and Critical Race Theory in Schools," Sanders implied that educators indoctrinate students and that Critical Race Theory conflicts with the principle of equal protection under the law.
The LREA refuted these claims, emphasizing that Critical Race Theory is not explicitly taught in Arkansas schools and that an executive order forbidding its teaching is both unnecessary and dangerous. In addition, the LREA declared its support for LGBTQIA+ staff and students, citing Senate Bill 43 as an example of legislation targeting them, which will ultimately cause harm.
They concluded by stating that if all students are not safe, no students are safe - implying the importance of a safe learning environment where everyone's needs can be met.
So what gives? What is the fuss about Critical Race Theory?
Critical Race Theory offers a framework for understanding and analyzing how race and racism intersect with other forms of oppression and privilege in society, such as sexuality, gender, class, and ability. According to this framework, race is socially constructed and reinforced by individuals, institutions, and structures that derive power over marginalized racial groups.
Moreover, this loaded definition is at the heart of the polemic. So much so that the Right and the Left stand at opposite sides of the political arena, engaged in a heated battle over CRT. With a fierce determination, neither side is willing to yield an inch of their principles and beliefs. Nevertheless, any sensibly intelligent American can understand the gravamen each party raises.
The Right rails against the dangers of Critical Race Theory and its supposed attacks on white Americans, declaring that it will bring further division and discord among the people. The Left stands firmly in the belief that CRT is essential in understanding and supporting the progress of a country where incongruent social policies have been systematically and racially enforced for far too long.
As a liberal, I stand with my group in outlining the benefits of teaching CRT. However, this year I would like to be more of a moderate, so I see the arguments on the Right's side. In fact, on this topic, I will lean and reach across the aisle and agree with Conservatives. Critical Race Theory should not be taught in schools.
I understand that throughout the country, many educators have embraced it to understand better and address issues of race and inequality in the classroom. According to several education researchers, it has helped teachers and administrators make sense of the student body. It has also given them a valuable tool to develop and strengthen curricula, especially geography and civics, with the added benefit of helping understand inequality nationally.
However, the fact remains that there are several potential pitfalls to teaching CRT.
For example, herein is a theory that can be seen as challenging the notion of a "post-racial" society and can be met with resistance and hostility by students and parents. This can create a hostile learning environment and make it difficult for students to engage with the material meaningfully.
Furthermore, let us be frank, CRT is complex and nuanced and requires a deep understanding of how race and racism operate in society. Therefore, it can be challenging for educators who may not have received specific training in CRT and may not have the resources or support to implement it effectively in their classrooms. Likewise, CRT can be accused of being divisive, which is the opposite of what education should be. Similarly, it can be seen as an attempt to create a separate narrative for a specific group of people, which can lead to further division.
Lastly, it is crucial to mention that CRT is not a panacea and is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of race and racism. It is just one lens through which to view these issues, and it is not the only framework that should be used in the classroom. Other perspectives, such as multiculturalism, intersectionality, and colorblindness, should also be discussed.
Each of these perspectives has something to offer in terms of understanding race dynamics in the classroom. For example, multiculturalism emphasizes celebrating diversity while recognizing commonalities between different groups. Yet, at the same time, colorblindness encourages us to ignore racial differences altogether.
To summarize, Critical Race Theory should not be taught in schools. While it provides a critical lens through which to understand race dynamics and inequality in the classroom, several potential pitfalls must be considered before implementing it. Educators need specific training and resources to implement CRT effectively and safely, as well as a comprehensive understanding of how racism operates in society.
Additionally, other perspectives, such as multiculturalism, intersectionality, and colorblindness, should also be discussed alongside CRT for a deeper understanding of these issues. Considering all these factors when addressing race dynamics in the classroom can create a more equitable learning environment for everyone involved.
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