Why teachers unions are standing up against right-wing panic on ‘critical race theory’

GOP lawmakers in at least 26 states have filed legislation to prohibit teaching on racism and ‘divisive issues,’ while conservative activists and media campaigns take aim at local school board races, writes Alex Woodward

Friday 09 July 2021 04:10
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<p>Angry parents and community members shut down a school board meeting to  in Loudon County, Virginia, on the frontline of a right-wing culture war against discussions of race and gender in classrooms.</p>

Angry parents and community members shut down a school board meeting to in Loudon County, Virginia, on the frontline of a right-wing culture war against discussions of race and gender in classrooms.

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The chief of the nation’s second-largest teachers union has condemned right-wing attacks and Republican-backed legislation to restrict how schools teach about race and racism, while a coordinated campaign fuelled by culture war grievances is taking aim at local school boards and state legislatures across the US.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, stressed that the decades-old academic framework of “critical race theory” is not a part of the curriculum in elementary, middle or high schools, but the term has emerged as a catch-all phrase to condemn lessons on race and gender, as well as diversity training and equity initiatives.

It is a “method of examination taught in law school and in college that helps analyse whether systemic racism exists ... and whether that has an effect on law and on policy,” she explained in remarks during a conference on 6 July.

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