The field of education is facing new challenges, and the role that critical race theory has played in improving the body of knowledge about the unique challenges faced by people of color in our nation’s educational systems has been largely overlooked. That gap can no longer stand, and educators across the country are calling on state houses to repeal laws that ban critical race theory in K-12 classrooms.
The campaign, led by the National Council of Teachers of English, seeks to raise awareness of the need for states to reinstate or expand race-sensitive education policies, such as affirmative action, and to ensure that these policies are applied fairly to all racial groups.
As award-winning primary and secondary teachers, we are committed to providing our students with an excellent education, developing our students’ skills, knowledge and motivation to succeed on their chosen path in life. An excellent education is built on a foundation of honesty and truth. Unfortunately, that foundation is now being undermined by extremist legislators in several states who want to ban us from teaching and prevent us from doing our job: properly teaching the history, political system, literature and art of our country, and the history, political system, literature and art of the world.
Accurate, evidence-based instruction is what we strive for every day, age-appropriate, in a holistic program for the 21st century. Texas HB 3979, passed by the legislature on January 1, is an example of such legislation. sent to the governor in June for his signature or veto; the law prohibits any teacher from teaching a course in which slavery and racism are no more than an aberration, treason, or failure to abide by the true founding principles of the United States. But the Constitution of 1787, the most important embodiment of the true principles of the founding of the United States, establishes in Article I, Section 2 the standards for representation in Congress and taxation among the states on the basis that slaves constitute three-fifths of a free man. Does it feel like a part of the Texas Constitution is being erased from history? More than 100 Texas historians have spoken out against the bill. Other examples of gag laws are:
- Idaho HB 377, adopted at 28. April.
- AR SB 627, adopted at 3. May.
- Oklahoma HB 1775, adopted at 7. May.
- Tennessee SB 623, adopted at 25. May.
- Iowa HF 802, which was presented to the governor on the 20th. May was presented for signature or veto.
These extremist politicians are scaring our schools, trying to dictate what teachers should say and hiding the truth. If doctors had to ignore advances in treatment information, they would be guilty of malpractice. Nonetheless, extremist lawmakers seek to limit the information teachers share with students to outdated, incomplete, and inaccurate representations of our nation’s past and present – thus forcing us educators to commit pedagogical misconduct. How can we effectively teach our students about our country’s history – including President Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and the Civil War – without addressing slavery and, by extension, race and racism?
How can we reliably talk to our students about the court decisions and civil rights laws of the 1950s and 1960s without talking about race and racism? How can you have a conversation about race and racism in the classroom if you can’t mention the current events surrounding George Floyd or the Black Lives Matter movement? Many state standards, AP course requirements, textbooks and tests already require that many of these topics be learned.
Will we, as educators, be forced to reduce our students’ chances of meeting these standards and requirements by omitting important facts? As educators, we hope that these standards, requirements, and materials will continue to evolve so that they become not less, but more inclusive and accurate, and so that more of our students – of all races, ethnicities, and other identities – can see themselves in the programs and materials as part of the fabric of this nation.
We must ensure that as a nation, we never prevent our children from learning about our shared stories of fighting injustice to create a better union. Caption: ECRA has distinguished key ambassadors for equality education, Brett Bigham (2014 Oregon Teacher of the Year)Sidney Chafee (2017 National Teacher of the Year)Dr. Jemelleh Koes (2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year)Dr. Melissa Collins (Global Teacher Prize (Top 50) Finalist, 2018)Dr. Megan Olivia Hall (2013 Minnesota Teacher of the Year)Dr. Kareem Neal (2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year)Dr. Jemelleh Koes (2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year)Megan Olivia Hall (2013 Minnesota Teacher of the Year)Kareem Neal (2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year)Estella Owoimaha-Church (Global Teacher Prize (Top 50) Finalist, 2017)Tom Rademacher (Minnesota Teacher of the Year 2014)Rodney Robinson (National Teacher of the Year, 2019)Monica Washington (Texas Teacher of the Year 2014)Kelisa Wing (U.S. Department of Defense Teacher of the Year 2017)Dr. Maryann Woods-Murphy (New Jersey Teacher of the Year, 2010)