BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — 23ABC learned on Monday that the Kern High School District will not be teaching the controversial Critical Race Theory in its schools.
According to Erin Briscoe from KHSD, the district is "developing an ethnic studies course and it will not align with the Critical Race Theory."
What is Critical Race Theory?
Educators, experts explain critical race theory
Born out of the civil rights movement, critical race theory started as a way to examine laws and policies through the lens of race.
One example was how the government once drew lines around areas with a high Black population, deeming them a financial risk, and preventing banks from giving them loans.
There are other consequences like employment discrimination and disciplinary disparities in schools.
“Critical race theory is the theory that our systems in this country are bound up in race,” Kerry Goldmann, a lecturer at the University of North Texas, said.
“It pretty much offers a space where we recognize how race plays a part in everything that happens in the lives of people in this country,” Jalaya Liles Dunn, the Director of Teaching Tolerance program at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said.
The center is a national nonprofit that specializes in civil rights and public interest cases.
“The idea was to research the institutionalization and the systematic use of racism or some kind of discriminatory behaviors in laws, policies, behaviors, social norms,” Diane Birdwell, a high school history teacher, said. “It’s not taught in schools. It’s not a curriculum. It’s a theory."
“What we’re trying to teach students is the why,” she said. “Critical race theory doesn’t mean you ignore anyone. It doesn’t make anyone evil or bad. It just says make sure you tell the story.”
What is Controversy?
Critical race theory debate being had in more states
Parents and teachers have been voicing their opinions across the nation.
“How are our youngest learners supposed to love and accept one another when they are told they are inherently bad or inherently a victim because of the color of their skin,” one woman said at a board meeting in Wisconsin.
“I don’t think children should be focusing on the color of their skin, focusing on past traumas,” another woman in Florida said, referring to critical race theory.
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) points out that critical race theory is an academic framework and doesn't have any particular educational principles that flow from it.
Alex Cuenca with the (NCSS) called the controversy around critical race theory a manufactured crisis. He believes it's a way for certain politicians to appeal to their base.
“Politicians don't belong in our classrooms. We believe that social studies educators must have the freedom to make the decisions about the kinds of conversations that they want to have in the classroom with their students,” said Cuenca. “At its core, critical race theory really kind of helps us recognize that race and racism are socially constructed, not biological truths, and that we've built systems of laws and policies with the intent to uphold racial inequalities.”