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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Ya gotta believe in 'the other CRT' if you want to teach

"Culturally relevant teaching" has spread rapidly, but it's getting some push back, writes Michael Torres on City Journal. "Families, teachers, and administrators in three western Pennsylvania school districts are suing the state Department of Education over new Culturally Relevant and Sustaining Education guidelines.

Photo: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

The guidelines require teachers to question “economic, political, and social power structures,” acknowledge “that biases exist in the educational system” and vow to “disrupt harmful institutional practices.”

They must “believe and acknowledge that microaggressions are real” and commit to ridding their classrooms of them, "notwithstanding the dubious research behind the concept," Torres writes.

“This is the government saying, you will believe this, you will state that you believe this or there will be consequences,” said Thomas Breth, special counsel for the Thomas More Society and attorney for the plaintiffs. “I’m against that whether its conservative, liberal, progressive, non-progressive.”

Culturally relevant teaching is “the other CRT,” writes Steven Mintz on Inside Higher Ed. It can range from anodyne -- post welcome signs in different languages! -- to highly political. Many states want teachers to strengthen students’ racial and ethnic identities.

For example, would-be teachers in Illinois will have to receive training in “systems of oppression” and “power and privilege,” and assess how they "mitigate their own behavior (racism, sexism, homophobia, unearned privilege, Eurocentrism, etc.),” reports the Chicago Tribune.

Teachers in Minnesota will have to affirm students' gender identity as well as teaching "anti-racist" ideology, writes Joy Pullman on The Federalist.

Culturally relevant pedagogy” was coined by Gloria Ladson-Billings, then a University of Wisconsin professor, in 1995, writes Torres. She wanted to bring critical race theory to education.

Ladson-Billings rejected "capitalism, objectivity, and merit" as supporting "American public education’s real goal of reinforcing “'whiteness as property',” he writes. She dismissed multiculturalism because it “offers no radical change in the current order.”

Pennsylvania desperately wants to improve its failing public schools, writes Torres. "But training teachers to see their students and peers as unwitting micro-aggressors, their schools as hotbeds of bias, and the broader society as made up of interwoven systems of oppression won’t help anyone."

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