NCSD trustees wade into critical race theory debate - Casper, WY Oil City News
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NCSD trustees wade into critical race theory debate

NCSD Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, July 7. (Screenshot from NCSD, Youtube)

CASPER, Wyo. — Two Natrona County School District Trustees waded into the debate surrounding so-called “critical race theory” during a Wednesday, July 7 school board meeting.

Trustee Clark Jensen said that the National Education Association (NEA) “has recently approved, said, stated they would push critical race theory throughout the nation.”

Jensen said on Wednesday that the NEA’s position is “troubling to me on many levels,” Jensen said. “Number one, I just think critical race theory is just another way to reject racism in a different way, and number two, I don’t want to be dictated by a national organization that doesn’t represent Wyoming.”

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“I just want to go on record as saying that can’t be. … We can’t be under the thumb of those who would change our culture in our state and in our community so there you go.”

Trustee Debbie McCullar said she agreed with Jensen’s statements and “so does [Wyoming Superintendent] Jillian Balow.”

Balow issued a statement in May rebuking a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Education to prioritize including “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives” into American History and Civics Education.

Balow said the Education Departments’s draft rule was “an attempt to normalize teaching controversial and politically trendy theories about America’s history.”

“History and civics should not be secondary to political whim,” she said, and should instead ”engage students in objective, non-partisan analyses of historical and current events.”

What exactly constitutes “critical race theory” can depend on who is defining the term.

“The public debate over critical race theory (CRT) is in large part a semantics argument, with the anti-CRT faction attempting to include ‘all of the various cultural insanities‘ people hear about in the media under the banner of CRT while the other side protests that it’s technically a much more limited concept confined to elite education,” Reason Senior Editor Robby Soave wrote on Tuesday. “Progressives are essentially correct that the definition of CRT is being tortured to match conservative grievances, but conservatives are justified in feeling aggrieved by some of these things, and thus the argument is quite tedious.”

“That said, the National Education Association (NEA) appears to have accepted the conservative framing of CRT: namely, that it’s not merely confined to academia but is in fact also being taught in K-12 schools. And the NEA thinks this is a good thing that should be defended.”

Soave pointed to an archived version of a new NEA policy that was posted to their website and listed as adopted, but the webpage was later deleted. The NEA adopted a new business item during their June 30-July 3 meeting that expressed a commitment to “[s]hare and publicize, through existing channels, information already available on critical race theory (CRT) — what it is and what it is not.”

The new policy said they would dedicate a team of staffers available to help NEA members who desire to “learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric; and share information with other NEA members as well as their community members.”

In addition, under the policy, the NEA will “provide an already-created, in-depth study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.

The NEA’s New Business Item 39 also said that they “will further convey that in teaching these topics, it is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory.”