Following the July 15 board meeting, the Francis Howell School District put out a fact sheet to address “inaccurate” information. Here are some of the facts they forgot to mention:
- Although the BOE and Superintendent deny that it is being taught, the narratives of Critical Race Theory were used to write the new Black History and Black Literature curriculum
Some have described Critical Race Theory (CRT) as an “obscure legal theory taught in law school” that is not taught in public school districts. However, leftist academics have advocated using its principles to inform curriculum and teaching. Their objective is to convince students that America is a nation built upon racism that can only be fixed by overthrowing the system through their activism. This narrative is taught in many educational colleges to teachers, who then use it as they instruct students in class. One such educator, LaGarrett King, was hired by the district to teach FHSD educators how to create a Black History curriculum. In a recording of his instruction, he talks about using different verbiage to accomplish “social justice” goals without tipping off parents to the content.
The district continues to refuse to address parent concerns about CRT-inspired content, including terminology and definitions, social justice standards, leading unit questions, politically one-sided activities, a focus on protest and violence without considering other aspects of history, biased and political book selections, and a lack of representation of the diverse thought of many Black Americans.
- District supporters of the Black History and Black Literature Curriculum documents refused to engage in discussion
Throughout course development and review, parents raised concerns about the content. Alternative course outlines were presented to the district and board of education. None of those concerns or alternative ideas were considered. During the curriculum committee’s review of the documents, all feedback was ignored if it was not in support of the content.
In public Facebook and Board of Education meeting comments, district curriculum supporters have engaged in personal attacks on those giving feedback about the curriculum, calling them racist or afraid of change. No one either from inside or outside the district was willing to entertain the idea of removing the CRT-inspired content and replacing it with better content. Instead, it was simply asserted that the content was not CRT and the curriculum was passed without modification.
It is ironic that the supporters of these curriculums refuse to engage in difficult conversations, even while they claim that they want to do so in these classes. Some might get the idea that they only want to engage in one type of conversation, on their terms and with predetermined outcomes.
- District supporters of the Black History and Black Literature Curriculum coordinated to have a “smooth rollout”
Emails obtained through a Sunshine request show that the district was not interested in obtaining feedback on the new courses that did not support their predetermined plan. Instead, they rolled out a public sales pitch to sell the idea of the courses rather than their actual content. In April, the speakers were invited to take up public comment time advocating for the curriculum. Those speakers included students who had no idea what was in the actual curriculum as well as members of the content writing team.
Emails also show that administration was well aware of the content of the curriculum, including the “Social Justice” standards, which are inspired by CRT. After members of the public began raising concerns about the curriculums, the district did not address those concerns. Instead, curriculum supporters coordinated with speakers to arrive nearly 2 hours before the July board meeting to stand in line so that they could take up the majority of speaking slots.
- Consent agenda item approvals are only supposed to be for non-controversial items
The board of education approved the new curriculum at its July meeting as part of the consent agenda. This is a parliamentary procedure to approve non-controversial agenda items like personnel reports that do not require debate or discussion. These items are approved at once with a single vote. The board was aware of the public interest and controversy around the curriculum content. Any board member could have made a motion to pull the curriculum approval from the consent agenda so it could be discussed and voted on separately. Instead, they chose to keep it as part of the consent agenda, did not discuss it at all, and ended up confusing everyone who expected to hear a vote to approve the curriculum by itself. That the board did not have any public discussion about the curriculum indicates that they either approve of its controversial content or else are ignorant about it.
- District personnel were aware that Dr. King was a proponent of Critical Race Theory and worked closely with him on curriculum
The district paid $15,000 to LaGarrett King for his services in designing the curriculum. He was paid for at least 9 events held with district personnel and the public, including hosting a Zoom call with district personnel in September 2020 and a Zoom meeting for the public in October 2020. He also conducted several in-person sessions with the curriculum writing team. District personnel were aware of his status as a CRT-inspired educator and complimentary of his writing.
Although the district has downplayed Dr. King’s involvement in writing the curriculum, he was closely involved in crafting details like the course description and the compelling questions for each unit. Additionally, the Black History course outline is nearly identical to the model suggested by Dr. King in his presentation, and uses much of the same terminology. No other consultant was paid for work on these courses. District personnel also expressed the desire to have him consult in the future on revising all of the district’s K-12 Social Studies curriculum.