Republican legislation is prescribing, then, that students remain ignorant, and ironically, passively complicit in systemic racism.

The Great Gatsby

My neighboring state of North Carolina has filed copy-cat legislation being proposed across the U.S. by Republicans as part of the manufactured Critical Race Theory (CRT) crisis.

As Justin Parmenter explains, “Among other things, the bill would make it illegal for teachers to promote feelings of racial discomfort and would require schools to prominently post information about diversity training on their websites for public review.”

Republicans and conservatives have launched a campaign grounded primarily in several false claims, including a drastic misrepresentation of what CRT is (a graduate-level theoretical lens primarily found in law schools) and that CRT exists in…

What if the problem with passing rates is not the quality of teacher education, but the inherent inequity built into standardized testing throughout the entire system of formal education?

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

You can count on two things when the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) releases one of their “reports.”

First, media will fall all over themselves to report NCTQ’s “findings” and “conclusions” without any critical review of whether the “findings” or “conclusions” are credible (or peer-reviewed, which they aren’t).

Second, NCTQ’s “methods,” “findings,” and “conclusions” are incomplete, pre-determined (NCTQ has a predictable “conclusion” that teacher education/certification is “bad”), and increasingly cloaked in an insincere context of diversity and equity (now teacher education/certification are not just “bad” but especially “bad” for minority candidates).

So the newest NCTQ report has been immediately…

Maintaining a critical authoritative pose when in positions of authority is extremely hard, much harder than being authoritarian.

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While on vacation, a friend and I were discussing the paradox of parenting.

A parent often feels a tension between fostering and supporting a child to be the person they want to be as that contrasts with dictating what is best for the child (knowing as adults do that children, teens, and young adults often make decisions necessarily without the context of experience that would certainly change many decisions).

That paradox, that tension has existed for me as a teacher/professor, parent, grandparent, and coach.

I am constantly checking myself in roles of authority to determine if I am imposing my…

The Republican attack on critical race theory (CRT) and the 1619 Project is shockingly similar to China’s mandates controlling how children are taught.

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Eesha Pendharkar reports in Education Week Four Things Schools Won’t Be Able to Do Under ‘Critical Race Theory’ Laws, including the following:

  • Discussions of racism will be limited
  • Anti-bias training and other anti-racism efforts could be curtailed or canceled
  • Administrators will have to change their curriculum
  • Teachers and administrators will have to restrict conversations about sexism and gender identity

Many states, such as my home state of South Carolina, are also prescribing that schools adopt patriotic approaches to teaching history, citing the debunked 1776 Project directly.

These attacks on teaching race, racism, and history — directly mentioning CRT — however…

On the day Ronald Reagan was shot, I sat in the college library reading Sartre.

Public domain

The best way I can express it, I think, is that I have always wanted to be smart.

“Always” in the sense of whenever I first had something like independent awareness, which I assume occurred gradually as my autonomous self slowly and painfully separated myself from the powerful urge to remain at the center of my mother’s universe.

I idealized being “smart,” and thus “knowing stuff,” as essential for that autonomy.

I have never wanted to be smart to lord it over others (although I am still accused of being arrogant, a misreading of passion, I think), but I have…

With a half-smile and without hesitation, Mr. Simpkins replied, “Paul, some parents don’t want their children to think.”

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I entered public education in the fall of 1984, a naive and idealistic first-year English teacher vividly aware of the literary significance of that year.

Of course, I was not yet aware that I was completely wrong about the essential purposes of public education because I had been gifted parents who trusted not only my intellect but the foundational good of knowledge and academic freedom.

My parents were wrong about quite a lot, it turns out, but they were magnificent in the freedom they allowed my mind and the support they gave to my often wonderful teachers.

The first few…

Most traditional education in the U.S. still centers whiteness and emphasizes equal opportunity and rugged individualism.

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My career as an educator has spanned five decades and included 18 years as a high school English teacher in rural upstate South Carolina and another 19 years (and counting) as a professor at a selective liberal arts college in the same area.

As a lifelong Southerner and a critical educator, I have always included lessons addressing social class and race in my classes when teaching high school and now as a university professor.

My goals as a high school English teacher concerning race and racism were primarily to introduce my students to the broad and complex range of Black…

While Republicans continue to claim the U.S. “is not a racist country” and passing legislation directly and indirectly banning critical race theory (CRT) and the 1619 project, the recent comments by former VP Mike Pence capture the real message behind these events:

For Republicans and conservatives who reject systemic racism as a “left-wing myth,” there remains a significant challenge: How can we explain the tremendous racial gaps (see below) that exist in the U.S. between Black and white Americans?

These attacks are directly effecting K-12 and higher education; therefore, educators must be well informed about these issues. …

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

“In total, lawmakers in at least 15 states have introduced bills that seek to restrict how teachers can discuss racism, sexism, and other social issues,” reports Sarah Schwartz for Education Week.

South Carolina (H630) has joined Republicans across the U.S. challenging Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the 1619 Project.

The key problem with this copycat legislation is CRT isn’t implemented in K-12 education and the 1619 Project is not adopted curriculum.

CRT is rare in higher education, reserved for some graduate programs (specifically among legal scholars), but CRT provides a way to examine systemic racism, not simply the actions of…

Conservatives are misusing the term “CRT” as a marker for any and all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives or any and all lessons addressing race and racism in schools.

Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

I was recently asked on Twitter if there can be any valid criticisms of Critical Race Theory (CRT), and that question was couched in a belief that everyone challenging CRT was being broadly (and unfairly) painted as racists.

In my own posts about CRT, I have in fact noted that a foundational part of anything “critical” is the essential and perpetual challenging of assumptions; the paradox of CRT and critical pedagogy is that to be critical one must continually step back to challenge the very thing being used to interrogate the world.

Simply put, CRT scholars are as apt to…

Paul Thomas

P. L. Thomas, Professor of Education Furman University, taught high school English before moving to teacher education.

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