With a new school year underway, parents, teachers, and children anxiously return to classrooms amidst an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
But this year, school board members, teachers, academics, politicians, and parents continue to argue over critical race theory and how to enact its version of equity.
Last week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution to support the teaching of critical race theory in public K–12 schools. The resolution initially listed among its sponsors liberal mayors like Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, Portland’s Ted Wheeler, and Louisville’s Greg Fischer.
Over the summer, Oregon governor Kate Brown suspended a requirement for students to demonstrate reading, writing, and math proficiency in order to receive a high school diploma, in a supposed effort to build “equity.” The governor’s office said the new standards for graduation would aid the state’s “Black, Latino, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”
These efforts by politicians to push critical race theory distracts from a real analysis of educational achievement in their states and cities. The real issue in American education is a failure to enable the majority of students—regardless of race—to achieve academic excellence or even, in many cases, basic skills.