BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
The topic of Critical Race Theory has become a hot topic in recent months, especially when it comes to education in schools.
Generally defined as “an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States who seek to critically examine U.S. law as it intersects with issues of race in the U.S. and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice, CRT examines social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism in the United States and, more recently, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.”
That topic has not been presented for consideration to Clarkston Community Schools, however, and is not part of the 2021-22 curriculum within CCS or at Clarkston Everest Collegiate High School and Academy.
“Critical Race Theory has recently come into national conversations about education, and some have asked if this graduate-level academic approach will be incorporated into our K-12 curriculum,” said CCS Superintendent Dr. Shawn Ryan in a statement to The Clarkston News.
“Clarkston Community Schools has no plans to introduce Critical Race Theory into our learning. In fact, we are very transparent about our process for evaluating and communicating curriculum changes in Clarkston. For more than 20 years, our district has had a Teaching and Learning Council composed of educators, administrators, parents, students, and Board of Education members. This council meets three times a year to review, update, and adjust curriculum in Clarkston. Any changes are voted upon by the Teaching and Learning Council before being brought to the Board of Education for consideration. It is important for our community to know that all recommendations and decisions we make as a school district are centered on the four pillars of our strategic plan and guided by every person’s right to feel safe, supported, healthy, engaged, and challenged. The four pillars are Whole Person Development, where we are committed to creating a culture of well-being for all, Foundational and Academic Skills, where our students have secure foundational and academic skills that connect them with their world, Student-Focused Learning, where strong learning connections begin with a personal connection. Our staff creates authentic relationships with students to support their unique interests and abilities through personalized learning experiences, and Future Pathways, where our students are on pathways to a future that excites them.
“We have always and will always respond to the needs of all students with personalized systems of support. We have always, and will always, honor and uplift all students’ unique stories and perspectives. We have always and will always empower all students to be proud of who they are and what they can achieve and aspire to. This is what sets Clarkston Community Schools apart from other school districts.”
CCS Board of Education President Kelli Horst added to Ryan’s response, saying, “The board welcomes robust discourse on any topic and appreciates the level of community engagement we’ve seen over the last year.”
Everest Headmaster and High School Principal Gregory Reichert also provided a statement to The Clarkston News:
“As a Catholic school, we first recognize important points of agreement that have always been held by the church and are essential to a Christian worldview,” Reichert said. “The inherent love and concern for our fellow man, regardless of race, flows both naturally and as a just command from our Creator, challenging us to see and act outside of ourselves. While Christians and people of all faiths and creeds, equally flawed by the shortcomings of our humanity, have struggled throughout history to fully realize and live this universal calling for all people, this in no way diminishes the central importance or the nobility of the Christian calling specifically. Replacing this beautiful, pure, and challenging Christian worldview with one that inherently divides and distracts from every man’s primary call to love, establishing a perceived fundamental division among races – oppressor versus oppressed – is completely contrary to the unitive and loving vision that our God intended for us.
“As such, critical race as a theory has no place in our school.”
On June 23, the issue of CRT being taught was posed on The Clarkston News’ Facebook page, gauging the thoughts of the local community.
The responses were mostly opposed to bringing the topic to local schools, while some were for the topic and others took more of a philosophical approach.
“There’s so much misconception about what CRT is and what it isn’t,” said Amy Kemmer. “We should teach our students the truth about our country’s history and teach it using methods that are informed by CRT. Directly teaching CRT in K-12 schools is probably not the best answer. It’s a high-level academic theory that wouldn’t be easy to teach younger students to understand. Educators should be taught about CRT and it should inform instruction about history rather than be the actual topic of instruction.”
“Critical race theory doesn’t belong in the schools,” added Kate Horner. “History does but bringing politics into does nothing but harm young minds. The schools there to provide an education to teach kids how to learn and to further their academic studies. Everything else is to be taught by the parents. No child should leave school with someone telling them that by no choice of their own they are born racist because of the color they are. A child clearly can’t choose their parents or the color of their skin. All this does is teach children to see color and start segregation all over again.”
Kristie Hawksley said CRT should not be taught as “it’s too decisive and way too political.”
“I’m OK with schools promoting love, tolerance, acceptance, etc., but CRT is too political and will just continue to divide us.
“Should it be political? No. But the reality is that it is political. Schools need to stick to the basics: reading, writing, math, science, etc. We are not doing as well as we should in these areas.
“The true catalyst for success is our ability to excel in the basics.”
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