A group of black scholars penned an open letter to the National School Boards Association and local school boards nationwide urging them to drop curriculum that is inspired by Critical Race Theory.
Posted on “1776 Unites,” an organization that crafted curriculum to counterbalance The New York Time’s “1619 Project,” 21 black scholars said that Critical Race Theory and the “narrative of racial grievances” are having a “damaging effect” on low income and minority children.
“The prevailing narrative of racial grievances has been corrupting the instruction of American history and the humanities for many decades, but has accelerated dangerously over the past year,” the letter reads. “The most damaging effects of such instruction fall on lower income minority children, who are implicitly told that they are helpless victims with no power or agency to shape their own futures.”
The signees say they represent a nonpartisan and “intellectually diverse” group of black-led writers, educators, activists, and thinkers who are “focused on solutions to our country’s greatest challenges in education, culture, race relations, and upward mobility.” Among the group are thought leaders such as Bob Woodson, who created “1776 Unites, John McWhorter, an associate professor of Columbia University, and Glenn Loury, a professor of economics at Brown University.
According to the letter, the group finds it to be problematic that teachers allow the “racial grievance” narrative to dominate nearly every classroom, while data shows that only a tiny portion of America’s students are performing at or above proficiency standards in civics and history courses.
For example, only 24 percent of eighth-graders in the U.S. performed at or above the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) proficiency standards on the civics assessment, and only 15 percent of students hit the NAEP’s proficiency standards for the history assessment.
“These dismal achievements in gaining an understanding of democratic citizenship, government, historical facts and perspectives across time are low across all student backgrounds and virtually unchanged from the benchmarks established two decades ago,” the letter reads.
The group proposes that school boards opt to use curricula such as 1776 Unites and avoid using any lesson plan that is rooted in Critical Race Theory, an ideology that claims America is irredeemably racist.
Signees “stands in unqualified opposition to any curricula that depict America as irredeemably racist; teach that the legacies of slavery, racial segregation, and other appalling crimes are insurmountable; or fail to provide examples from history of black achievement against the odds.”
The group provides three tenets for its existing curricula.
The first is “continuity, not rupture,” which means asking teachers to teach about the harsh realities of slavery while reminding students that this is not an example of American ideals. The second is “Dignity not grievances,” which proclaims that black people can — and will — reclaim their own destiny despite hardships.
The final tenet is “resilience, not fragility,” which argues that knowing the achievements of historical black people can help current students better understand their responsibilities as American citizens.