Thursday, July 8, 2021

CRT in Colorado - a primer from the Denver Post

"Denver doesn't teach Critical Race Theory -- but that hasn't stopped the complaints," reported the Denver Post on July 6 in response to the rising tide of tension and conversation about race and public education nationwide. Seemingly out of the blue, especially for an idea that has been around since the 1970s, the topic of critical race theory in education is on many minds, is being discussed publicly at school board meetings, and is even driving new legislation in some states banning the topic in education. Of course, many people have little knowledge or understanding of what the term even means and why it's so controversial.

To that end, a couple of journalists at the Denver Post have put together a couple of thoughtful, well-balanced, and comprehensive articles about the topic and its local relevance. John Aguilar has written the lead story which frames the topic and the current discussions happening around the Denver area.

The combustible intersection of race, equity and education is fueling late-night school board meetings across the Front Range, where parents, teachers and students sound off about a phrase and concept that’s suddenly everywhere in the U.S.: critical race theory. The loudest of the discussions is in Douglas County, where a newly adopted “equity policy” has set off a firestorm of accusations that the 67,000-student, mostly white district south of Denver is embracing the controversial theory. A similar debate happened last month at a Cherry Creek School District board meeting.

Critical race theory has morphed from its roots as a lofty academic notion into a catchphrase for those sensing the long-term power structure being under challenge by traditionally marginalized communities, University of Colorado ethnic studies professor Jennifer Ho said. She pointed to conservative filmmaker and commentator Christopher Rufo, who was recently profiled in The New Yorker as the architect behind turning critical race theory into a potent political weapon. In lambasting the “elites” for “seeking to reengineer the foundation of human psychology and social institutions through the new politics of race,” Rufo concluded that appropriating the left’s own terminology could make critical race theory “the perfect villain.”

Additionally, Post reporter Conrad Swanson has put together a succinct but informative primer or explainer for the question "What is Critical Race Theory."

Critical race theory suggests that racism and other prejudices are social constructs embedded in legal systems and laws, not the product of individual biases, according to Education Week.

Think of the theory as a “remix” of the civil rights movement, Reiland Rabaka tells his students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The professor of African, African American and Caribbean studies said the theory suggests that American culture, religion and institutions are inextricably linked with race, gender, sexuality and physical ability.

But it’s more than that: Critical race theory says institutions like the criminal justice or education systems have systemic failures — like the intentional segregation, or “redlining,” of neighborhoods across the country — built into the way those things work, according to Debora Ortega, a professor of social work at the University of Denver. Those failures or acts of discrimination might be attributed to a single racist or a misogynistic administrator or worker, but critical race theory asserts there is a broader and more complicated reason for them.

These two pieces reflect some really solid journalism that contribute important information and perspective on a timely topic.

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