In Collier County, Florida, parents are pushing back on the purchasing of new textbooks for the district, claiming they're pushing liberal ideology and Marxist views onto the students.
The School Board meeting was opened for public comment after three people filed official objections. There were speakers both for and against the new textbooks.
Some people became so aggressive they needed to be removed.
You can see news coverage here:
One of the largest bones of contention was the latest conservative "boogeyman"—Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Critical Race Theory is defined by EducationWeek as:
"The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies."
It explains the various ways our systems have oppressed marginalized groups with things like redlining, single-family zoning and race-blind policy making.
It takes a sociological approach to examine our political and social systems that are designed to hinder growth of Black, Indigenous and other people of color. However this field of study is rarely tackled in graduate level education, let alone elementary, middle or high school curriculum.
Instead, the thing mostly White Republicans are railing against is an end to White supremacist and White nationalist versions of history. An accurate depiction of history will include times when the United States, the U.S. government or the racial majority were not always right or the hero of every story.
For people unused to anything but a distorted heroic view of their history, truth can feel like an attack. For people whose status is a birthright, marginalized people achieving equality can feel like persecution.
Many parents and taxpayers in Collier County believed Critical Race Theory—which is not actually part of the curriculum—would cause division or cause an "us versus them" mentality.
One speaker said:
"I'll be damned if I will allow a Marxist revolution to take place in this country, and we need to reject our children even being taught it."
" Politics cannot be in the schools unless it's a political class, and then it needs to be true politics and not someone's opinion of how something is being treated; we have to be super careful."
There is a Twitter account pushing to keep Critical Race Theory out of schools called FL Citizens' Alliance. It state's they're a "501C3 non-profit dedicated to equipping citizens with resources to improve K-12 education in their communities."
However, a district official pushed back against the misinformation:
"There is no evidence of critical race theory in this resource or any of the [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt] Florida inter-reading student materials, teacher materials or any ancillary materials."
School board member Stephanie Lucarelli agreed. They had gone through textbooks along with four students in their entirety.
"Anything in these texts was not, you know, a problem for me."
Another speaker said this about Critical Race Theory:
"[Critical race theory] focuses on mainly on teaching cultural differences, instead of commonalities. It's cultural differences, racial differences, ethnic differences, and the keyword is differences."
This statement is actually closer to culturally relevant teaching.
Culturally relevant teaching focuses on the students individual background to assure students have fair, equitable and accessible education. It affirms their differences to better serve their needs as they're learning.
EducationWeek said the two concepts are similar only in one area:
"It's related [to Critical Race Theory] in that one of its aims is to help students identify and critique the causes of social inequality in their own lives."
According to WINK News, some people are uncomfortable with the HMH website speaking on Black Lives Matter and other political issues.
Joshua Mckie of the Collier Youth for Black Lives Organization said to Fox4:
"You know it's all about solidarity, but you know we see people who are for the Black Lives Matter movement, and we see people who are against the [Collier County Sheriffs Program] 287g."
"So it's like different groups coming together to support the same cause which is equality and equal treatment."
Just recently, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis pushed the Florida Board of Education to amend their rule on how History is taught in the state's schools.
The rule now specifically bans Florida from teaching Critical Race Theory along with anything that would "indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view."
The Collier County School Board postponed the vote on the budget for the textbooks because of the backlash, but there definitely is not Critical Race Theory being taught in their school.