Teachers Being Penalized for Teaching the Raw Truth about Black and Gender Background

What if I told you there is an assault on the truth in the United States? Educators across the country are being increasingly penalized for teaching the raw truth about Black and Gender histories. They are being labeled as “woke” and derided by conservative media.

Currently, teachers are facing restrictions in states such as Idaho, Iowa, Florida, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Republicans and others on the far right argue they are teaching about race, gender, and identity in ways that are critical and hurtful to white or conservative citizens. They’ve labeled these teachings “critical race theory,” and have initiated an all-out assault on those who dare to teach the truth.

Advocates, including many teachers, argue that banning these teachings and threatening educators with legal action will discourage debate about how racism and sexism have influenced the country’s history and continue to affect its existence. Furthermore, critical race theory researchers have stated that the laws misinterpret the concept. You can block something out from students’ minds but that doesn’t erase it from history.

How does this affect West Orange High School? The quick answer is it doesn’t because we live in a primarily liberal state that is very diverse. But that doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of this occurring in the near future. Here are some thoughts of several WOHS students I’ve spoken with about critical race theory:

“Kids will be misinformed about history” an anonymous 9th grader stated.

Each state creates its own set of standards for what students should study in social studies. Committees comprising educators, curriculum specialists from the state department of education, academics, and community representatives often draft these standards. As a result, it is ultimately up to the state to determine how well-informed students are on specific issues.

“We don’t have to focus on the past if we can prevent discrimination from occurring in the future,” an anonymous 10th grader stated. Scholars and activists who examine this issue do not hold white people alive now responsible for what individuals did in the past. They argue that white people now have a moral obligation to address how racism continues to affect all of our lives.

Another anonymous 9th grader from WOHS stated “These school districts are simply attempting to maintain white people’s representation. They feel threatened even though there is no actual threat.” The students I’ve spoken with are wondering how long this will go on. Will these new restrictions take root and sweep across the country? And how long will it be before schoolchildren exit K-12 schools with a vastly different understanding of America’s complicated history than their parents?