By Petr Svab
A growing number of American parents are getting together to find ways to block the spread of the quasi-Marxist critical race theory (CRT) in schools where they send their children.
They see the doctrine as a culprit in creating a toxic environment and exacerbating problems it claims to ameliorate. School officials have been responding with denials or silence.
CRT has been spreading throughout academia, entertainment, government, schools, and corporations. It redefines America’s history as a struggle between “oppressors” (white people) and the “oppressed” (everybody else), similarly to Marxism’s reduction of human history to a struggle between the “bourgeoisie” and the “proletariat.” It labels institutions that emerged in majority-white societies as “systemically” or “structurally” racist.
CRT’s entry into schools went largely unnoticed by parents due to its being dressed up as “equity,” “anti-racist,” or “culturally responsive” initiatives. It has spawned an industry of speakers, trainers, and consultants who get paid to diagnose an organization as “systemically racist,” prescribe CRT-based initiatives as the remedy, and then to help implement it over the years to come.
The existence of “systemic racism” is usually claimed based on disparate outcomes for different groups, such as lower average test scores or more detentions for black students.
Scholars have pointed out that the argument is specious.
“Every system you could possibly think of produces some kind of racial or sexual or class discrepancy,” said Wilfred Reilly, an associate professor of political science at Kentucky State University who specializes in empirically testing political claims. “And this allows the radicals to be radicals eternally, and to claim that everything is racist.”
Once parents learn what CRT is, they often disagree.
One group that attracted media attention is the Parents Against Critical Theory (PACT) in Loudon County, Virginia.
Local parents began to organize in June 2020, asking for the reopening of schools that had been shuttered in response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. However, it was the remote learning the district put in place that allowed parents to learn more about what their children are being taught, which raised some red flags.
“We’re seeing what our kids are learning and our goal changes from opening schools to ‘Oh my gosh. What are we sending our children back to?’” one parent, who asked to remain anonymous because of concern about reprisals, told The Epoch Times.
“Basically, they’re categorizing children by race to determine the quality of education each will have, which is absolutely unacceptable,” she added.
She said her children won’t be returning to that school.
Loudoun County Public Schools spokesman Wayde Byard denied that the schools are determining the quality, level, or resources for education based on skin color.
“Our goal is to ensure equity based on this definition as outlined by the Virginia Department of Education: Education Equity is achieved when we eliminate the predictability of student outcomes based on race, gender, zip code, ability, socioeconomic status or languages spoken at home,” he told The Epoch Times via email.
“As a school division, we are committed to ensuring the success of every student here in LCPS.”
One parent was shocked to hear her daughter ask her whether she was a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Apparently, the child heard about it in class, but came away with a confused picture of what the KKK is. The parent had to explain that membership in such an organization is a bad thing. The child had no idea that the organization was started by Democrats more than a century ago and barely exists today, according to the parent.
Byard said the district “does not comment on anecdotal stories such as these” and that information about it, both on the student and the teacher side, would be confidential.
One teacher told a class that students can go protest and be excused from school as long as they are at least 14 years old and get parental consent, the mother learned from her child.
The school denied it, she said, but she wasn’t convinced.
“I’m going to believe my daughter probably over anything that they say,” she said.
A video posted online shows a teacher during a virtual class pushing a student to pay attention to racial differences, accusing the student of “being intentionally coy” by refusing.
Byard said the video is “an edited clip of a much-longer lesson and may not accurately reflect the context in which this discussion was held.”
Another student was told he’d be marked absent from a pre-class session when he refused to talk about his “values.” He told his mother he was worried he’d be bullied and questioned if he disclosed his beliefs, she told The Epoch Times. His mother ultimately negotiated an arrangement where her son wouldn’t be required to engage in the pre-class activities.
“We’ve been banging on drums for about nine or 10 months now, and parents are finally coming around to see what is going on here,” PACT founder Scott Mineo told The Epoch Times.
The district has responded by denying that CRT is used in its schools.
“No particular philosophy or theory is being used to indoctrinate students or staff,” Byard said.
He acknowledged the district has adopted a “culturally responsive framework,” which the parents say is CRT under another name.
“They are flat-out lying to the community,” Mineo said.
The framework document quotes Loudon County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams as saying: “LCPS calls for all students, staff, families, and other members of our community to engage in the disruption and dismantling of white supremacy, systemic racism, and hateful language and actions based on race, religion, country of origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or ability.”
The parents argue the outcome of this is the exact opposite.
“They’re forcing this doctrine that won’t result in less racism. It’ll result in a toxic environment,” one parent said.
While the movement against CRT started locally, the response has been national.
“The messages, the prayers, the thanks, the donations are actually coming from all across the country,” he said.
Similar initiatives have been forming in recent months, such as Parents Defending Education, founded earlier this year by Civil Liberties advocate Nicole Neily.
“In recent years activists have targeted public, private, and charter schools across the country with a campaign to impose toxic new curriculums and to force our kids into divisive identity groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, and gender,” its website says, urging parents to join in to “stop the madness in our schools.”
One teacher and one parent from two elite schools in New York City recently objected to CRT being used there, while Florida is working on a civics curriculum that will explicitly exclude CRT, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
There has been action on the other side of the issue as well. Some parents, teachers, and school officials in Loudon County have formed a group that discussed how to make a list of the non-compliant parents, “infiltrate” their ranks, and even solicit “hackers who can either shut down their websites or redirect them to pro-CRT” webpages, The Daily Wire reported.
PACT’s GoFundMe page was shut down by the crowdfunding platform, although the group has already formed a new one on GiveSendGo, raising about $13,000.
The pushback has prompted the parents to “double down,” Mineo said.
It may be off-putting for parents to try to find their way through the jargon-filled world of CRT ideologues, he acknowledged, but his point is to oppose CRT practice, rather than theory.
“What matters is how it’s manifesting itself and who is responsible,” he said.