My son is dyslexic and goes to the school I teach at. He gets a great education and is not subjected to any CRT kind of nonsense. I just want him to be able to read, write, and learn mathematics, and my school is doing a great job at that. Even so, I witness how teachers are trained across the country by their schools and see a big problem.
Leaving aside my own personal distaste for Kendi’s arguments for “positive discrimination,” the big problem here is that time is finite. I want my kid who has trouble reading to read better. When 50% of the professional development time dedicated to improving instruction is devoted to reading “How to Be an Anti-Racist” and “White Fragility,” it is time not devoted to training methods that have been proven to teach kids how to read, such as Orton Gillingham.
There is no evidence that Kendi and DiAngelo’s methods create a more equal or equitable school, nor have any schools shown measurable success using anti-racist methods in defeating racism. However, there is evidence that teaching phonics and using a knowledge-rich curriculum improve student outcomes across the board.
I want my son’s teachers to be reading Natalie Wexler’s work, Daniel Willingham’s work, and “Make it Stick” so they can better teach my son. Time spent trying to solve every societal ill imaginable is time spent ignoring proven methods of instruction that help students learn. Though Randi Weingarten would argue that teaching CRT is just “teaching honest history” that can be done well without the theory.
Weingarten and the CRT proponents are right in one narrow sense; schools should teach the “real” history of the United States, and diverse authors need to be read in the classroom. Reading Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste was uncomfortable; it had many well-sourced stories to help me teach American history better. That being said, it is possible to do so without subjecting teachers to divisive, theoretical authors with no tangible solutions on how to help students.
I want my son learning about the Tulsa Race Riots, lynchings, and the Fugitive Slave Act. I don’t want him learning that white people are evil or that discrimination is somehow actually a good thing.
Teaching students to read and work out mathematical equations is hard. There is a huge body of evidence on what does and does not work. Teaching Critical Race theory is impossible to measure, so teachers can feel good about themselves for being virtuous without actually making any difference.
Educators, administrators, and parents need to focus on what is measurable and hold teachers and administrators accountable for those goals. Is the class reading at grade level? Is the class proficient on their mathematics state tests? There have been advances in the past ten years about what we know about education as a profession using cognitive science; teachers need to be reading that, not “White Fragility.” I want my son’s teachers to read books that will help them to teach reading. It’s almost like doing so will accomplish the ‘anti-racist’ ends that advocates so claim their endorse.