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Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools officials have stated they do not teach critical race theory. However, it appears tenets of CRT do frame the curriculum being used. Teachers may not be teaching CRT, but it appears they are being trained to use a CRT lens to frame lesson plans.

A good summary of CRT tenants and principles can be found at: https://christopherrufo.com/crt-briefing-book/.

According to a paper written by Deborah A. Harmon (Professor at Eastern Michigan) called “Culturally Responsive Teaching Through a Historical Lens: Will History Repeat Itself?”, Harmon states “Critical race theory in the context of education requires us to examine the curriculum through the lens of people of color. Culturally responsive teaching supports critical race theory and vice versa.”

I reference this paper because PLSAS officials spent more than $270,000 during the past few years on professional development for culturally responsive teaching techniques from an organization called CCRTL. According to CCRTL’s website, teachers are taught how to have culturally responsive minds so they can provide lessons for students that parallel their own culturally responsive beliefs regarding unfairness (inequity), bias and cultural behaviors. CCRTL also offers, among other services, book clubs where participants can read and discuss books such as “Me and White Supremacy” and “Stamped – Racism, Anti-Racism and You”.

PLSAS has partnered with a professional development organization called Center for Applied Research & Education Improvement, which is committed to talking about injustices and embracing diversity by continuously engaging with principals of equity, anti-racism, cultural responsiveness and intersectionality. After reviewing one of their webinar presentations from January 2021, it appears to me that they want teachers to lead with a race equity lens.

The school district has also partnered with an organization for professional development called Minnesota Education Equity Partnership which claims it wants to transform the Minnesota education systems to be racially just.

The school district has partnered with Education Minnesota which offers training to deepen educators’ understanding of their own potential for bias. Participants engage in self-reflection around racial groups and culturally responsive teaching through a racial justice lens with topics including systemic racism and gender identity.

The PLSAS partners I list above (and there are more) have been used in the school district’s professional development program over the past few years and align closely with CRT tenets. Even some school board members in 2020 participated in a book club which they read “White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.”

So, when PLSAS officials state they do not teach CRT, you need to ask yourself why the school district is spending so much time and money on activities mentioned above that appear closely aligned to CRT tenets and/or social justice ideologies and indoctrination.

Let’s demand our school district get back to teaching basic reading, writing, math and science and improve the dismal MCA test results recently published. And don’t let the school district blame COVID for the poor results since the downward trend in proficiency test scores began when culturally responsive teaching and social emotional learning were rolled out years ago.

William Markert

Prior Lake

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