On Monday, May 23 at 5pm, head to the VFW in downtown Prior Lake to find out. Click the link at the bottom of this post to RSVP.
Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is an academic concept originally used in law schools in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The basic idea is that race is a social construct that is deeply embedded into our American legal systems and policies. CRT is an idea that racism does not stem solely from individual biases but is systemic in American culture.
In an August 11, 2021 article in the Prior Lake American, now resigning superintendent Dr. Teri Staloch is quoted saying, “There’s no reason to have a conversation about critical race theory in public education. I don’t believe there’s a school district in the country that teaches it. So, I don’t know why it’s getting the press or why we’re spending our time speaking about it – but why some parents are upset is because they think we’re doing something we’re not.” But is this an accurate statement?
In December of 2020, the PLSAS school board adopted the Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools Commitment to Equity and Inclusion resolution. This document resolves that PLSAS, “Commits, as a Board and as individuals, to viewing and analyzing all of our work on behalf of the District through both a racial and cultural equity lens and a social justice lens and reforming current policies should they not be aligned with the vision presented in this resolution.”
The Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) Ten Minnesota Commitments to Equity is also quoted in this resolution. This same document states that, “Equity is different from equality. Equity is a principle that is based upon justness and fairness, while equality demands everyone be treated at the same level.”
The MDE has also implemented a universal process for independent school districts in Minnesota to use called SEL, or Social and Emotional Learning. This program is intended to provide children with the skills to manage emotions, set goals and establish relationships. These skills are meant to foster the “ability to connect with individuals of diverse perspectives, cultures, languages, histories, identities and abilities.”
This SEL program was then sent to the Great Lakes Equity Center (GLEC) for a culturally responsive review. The GLEC recommends that Minnesota districts consider the following when integrating SEL (copied from the MDE website):
- Everyone’s behaviors are socially and culturally influenced.
- Context matters.
- Recognize issues of power and privilege.
- Effective SEL instruction should empower students.
Additional resources are provided on the MDE website, at the bottom of the GLEC Guidance page, for ways to blend Social and Emotional Learning into Culturally Responsive Classrooms within Minnesota schools.
Seeing the overlap between programs and policies driven by governing educational bodies, implemented in schools, being supported by a school board and being carried out by a superintendent that supports “Constructing the Activist Classroom,” (see page 4, session 4c) a person can begin to understand “why some parents are upset is because they think we’re doing something we’re not,” Dr. Staloch’s words. All of this information, paired with serious incidents arising in schools, may lead to questions about what exactly is being taught in those schools. So, is CRT being taught in our schools?
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