Over the July 4th weekend, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association (NEA), approved a plan to promote critical race theory in all 50 states and 14,000 local school districts, even though over half the nation’s states, including Florida, have taken steps to restrict or outright ban the controversial curriculum.
On the same weekend, Florida’s US Representative Byron Donalds, in an op/ed piece in the Washington Times, called on Americans to reject the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in their childrens’ classrooms.
According to EducationWeek, at the NEA’s representative assembly, union delegates passed several measures that “explicitly support the use of critical race theory in curriculum and allocated tens of thousands of dollars to those efforts.” Those measures included “increasing the implementation” of “critical race theory” in K-12 curricula, promoting critical race theory in local school districts, and attacking opponents of critical race theory, including parent organizations and conservative groups.
Mentioning CRT by name is seen as a significant reversal. For the past month, liberal pundits and activists have insisted that critical race theory is not taught in K-12 schools. But many conservatives call that a bad-faith claim, saying that CRT has made inroads in public schools for more than a decade.
Donalds described the controversial curriculum as a “divisive” theory that “spits on the Civil Rights Movement. Others have called it a Marxist indoctorination. Supporters say they’re just teaching the true American history.
Donalds wrote in his op/ed, “The essence of critical race theory would teach my three bi-racial children that I, their Black father, am oppressed by America’s history of White supremacy and that their mother, my wife, is my oppressor. But, what does that mean for my children? Does half of them qualify as oppressed, and the other half count as the oppressor?”
This is not his first action to fight this controversial curriculum. In May he co-sponsored two pieces of legislation introduced by Representative Burgess Owens (R-Utah). Both pieces of legislation address President Joe Biden’s Administration’s proposal to fund education programs informed by Critical Race Theory.
The paired legislation includes a bill that would restrict the teaching of CRT within federal institutions and a resolution that highlights the dangers of teaching CRT in U.S. schools.
In the introduction of the legislation, Donalds wrote, “America’s history regarding race is troublesome and deserves the proper attention, but we cannot allow for the degradation of American values and culture through so-called equity training. In the 21st century, we must teach and learn from our history and swear never to repeat it, but we cannot use our past to divide us, which Critical Race Theory will undoubtedly do.”
In his op/ed piece, he explained his opposition further.
“Critical race theory is divisive at its core. This movement to indoctrinate our children is the definition of reverse racism and spits in the face of the Civil Rights Movement led by American heroes such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,” Donalds said.
He explained that those who peddle CRT, do not do so to push for equity. They do it to pit one race against the other.
He said those supporting this “wicked curriculum” want an America where “every American is judged based on the color of their skin and not the content of their character, which,” he says is “the complete opposite of the teachings of Dr. King and decades of civil rights progress and commitment to creating a more perfect union.”
In the op/ed and on several appearances with the national media, Donald’s has repeatedly called on all parents to make their voices heard and demand their officials work for them and their children’s future. He praises the actions of a Florida mom, Keisha King from Duval County, Florida, who spoke out against CRT saying teaching CRT in schools is “not the truth.”
He also fully supports the actions of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the State Board of Education in banning the curriculum from Florida’s public school classrooms.
Donalds wrote, “America is not a racist nation. The mother of my children is not a product of White supremacy, and I am not an oppressed Black man in America.”
Many Progressive Democrats have branded opposition to CRT as “intolerant” or an attempt to censure education, others continue to deny there is any effort underfoot to teach CRT in the county’s classrooms.
NEA President Becky Pringle told EducationWeek, “This fight over how to teach history is simply the latest attempt by conservatives to sow division and to distract from the fact that state legislatures have not equitably funded schools.”
“We’ve been fighting that for certainly as long as I have been a leader within NEA,” she said in the interview. “And every time they attempt to bring up some other way to divide us, and to stoke fear and to take [away] that light shining on them and what their failures have been, we will be there to call it out, to speak up, and to fight back.”