The following article is a guest post by Sarah Hurley who is a freelance writer that is passionate about what is happening in the community and provides social commentary and information for concerned citizens to take action.
You’ve heard all the rumors about Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in Carmel Schools (and around the country), and you’ve heard the denials from school administrators. To make matters worse, some administrators and local news media mock concerned parents and label them as rageful or ignorant. While the response certainly does nothing to alleviate concerns, it is accurate to say that most people have more questions than answers.
In fairness, and being a person of goodwill, you would like to give the superintendent, school board, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), school principals, and teachers the benefit of the doubt. At the same time, you need answers to complete the picture of what is happening in your child’s school. This post will equip you to cut through the hearsay and seek access to actual data, so that you can see for yourself what’s happening on the front lines in Carmel schools.
Ask Substantive Questions (Hint: “Do You Teach CRT?” Is Not on the List)
In order to gather information, you must ask substantive questions. Don’t allow vague explanations and ambiguous priorities suffice. Corner teachers, the DEI Director, and the school board on their specific positions and how their efforts manifest in the classroom. Frame your questions in such a way that they must either be answered with specificity or obviously avoided (which is an answer in itself).
If you struggle to know what to ask or how to find out more, feel free to use the following questions:
- What all comprises the Excellence in Equity Training series offered to CCS teachers this summer?
2. The IU School of Education Cultural Competency: Leading Radical Change Program Initiative is a program in which CCS participates. Are you aware that Tambra Jackson’s (one of the PI’s behind the effort) bio says “I consider myself a scholar-activist and am committed to social justice issues pertaining to the historical and contemporary oppression, miseducation, and liberation of children of Color in U.S. schools. My teaching, scholarship and service is a means of activism. I explicitly apply my knowledge and understanding of my field to interrupt institutional inequity and promote social justice in education.” And “Teacher learning and development across the professional continuum (preservice, induction, and continued professional development) specifically focused on preparing teachers for diversity; teaching for social justice; culturally responsive pedagogy; teachers of Color; urban education; identities and praxis of Black women educators and faculty”?
3. From CCS Website (Initiatives and Equity Beliefs): ”In Carmel Clay School, we believe: Challenging systems of power and oppression.” What are those specific systems?
4. Can you share the data you are using to identify this problem to help me understand what you’re trying to fix?
5. Do you plan on assessing or teaching about bias or privilege? If so, do you have an example?
6. What books has the DEI Director recommended to school librarians?
7. What empirical data supports your efforts?
8. Do you engage in any equity audits? If so, what do they entail?
9. How do you differentiate between equity and equality?
10. Are you willing to hold an open forum with the community to address these questions?
The More You Know
Hopefully, this list of questions will get you started. Stay away from asking whether CRT is being taught. Instead, use these questions to understand whether its principles are taught. Please let us know in the comments if you have additional questions to add or how your information-gathering is going.