By Ruthie Schultz, Alexandria, MN
What do we know about CRT? And what do we know about the social studies standards that are being revised for Minnesota schools? Here is a little history:
Hundreds of years ago, America developed a concept that divided people into groups often based on physical appearance and background; although these differences appear dramatic, they are few and superficial. According to the 2003 Human Genome Project, all humans are 99.9% alike. Throughout human history, this 0.01% has been used to enslave, exploit, belittle, oppress and murder people of color.
How does America continue to work to resolve race-based discrimination? Some believe that one of the solutions is to use critical race theory.
Many proponents of critical race have as their primary goal the eradication of prejudice, which they believe exists everywhere; and to do this, they believe society should agree that:
Race is a “social construct” and not a biological one.
Racism is still a common experience for many people of color, and racist practices are often subtle.
Any advance or retreat for people of color “seems to serve the interests of the dominant white class.”
People of color are “uniquely qualified” to speak on behalf of their group about the effects of racism, and their stories and experiences are key to understanding bias.
Society should use all the tools at our disposal to educate our citizens and eliminate prejudice; issues such as police brutality, housing, the criminal justice system, voting rights, hate crimes and hate speech need to be addressed
The above is, of course, an incomplete list. Are there any CRT principles that should be taught in schools? May be. Are there any beliefs in this movement that we should be wary of? May be. It’s “maybe” because when we do our own homework on the subject of CRT, we are better able to make an informed decision about teaching it.
But will CRT be taught in our schools? Apparently not.
In an article in MINNPOST by Jasmine Askari, Matt Carlstrom, a 29-year-old veteran social studies professor, said, “I can say with one hundred percent complete confidence that critical race theory is not in K-12 social studies standards, but the standards we are currently working on will be more diverse than they have been.
However, the Minnesota Department of Education is revising the state social studies standards, which will set the framework for what students will learn in their social studies classes for the next 10 years. In June this year, the Department of Education asked the Social Studies Review Board to add Ethnic Studies to their core curriculum.
Students in Minnesota would be expected to learn ethnic studies at all levels, starting in kindergarten. “All students deserve to see themselves in their learning,” said Bobby Burnham, assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Education. Burnham said the committee added three ethnic studies standards to ensure college readiness and inclusion of multiple perspectives. These standards place more emphasis on Indigenous history and societal inequalities. Exactly how schools would teach it, from the curriculum they would use to whether it was in new stand-alone classrooms or integrated into existing classrooms, would depend on each school district.
More information can be obtained on this site:
Ultimately, we must find out what this means for Minnesota children.