No Critical Race Theory curriculum here, Essex superintendent claims

by Guy Page

Just two weeks after the Essex-Westford School District diversity director called Critical Race Theory (CRT) an “important aspect” of its equity and inclusion program, the school superintendent denied the district has a CRT curriculum. However, an analysis of the school budget suggests otherwise.

“The EWSD is not implementing a “critical race theory” curriculum. The District has not spent funds on any such program,” Superintendent Beth Cobb said in a published overview of the May 18 school board meeting. She added in a subsequent statement, “Equity is not a specific curriculum. Equity is not a specific purchase in the budget. Equity is not only one person’s job. Equity can not be described in a checklist. Equity touches all of our educational offerings, operations, and facilities. Equity is the foundation of our vision. Equity is an outcome.”

This statement is a stark contrast to assertions made at a May 4 school board meeting by Erin Maguire, Director of Equity and Inclusion.

“I do think that Critical Race Theory is an important aspect of the academic construct,” Maguire said in response to this question by newly elected board member Elizabeth Cady: “in order to fully achieve equity in the school, it has to be decided, that everyone accepts, that the United States is systemically racist?”

Maguire was reporting on her Equity Audit of staff and students. Her complete answer to Cady’s question appears at the 1 hour, 18 minute mark in the video recording of the Zoom meeting:  “I do think that Critical Race Theory is an important aspect of the academic construct, as we consider the impact of race in our community, in our state, and in our country,” Maguire said.

“I do think that Critical Race Theory is an important aspect of the academic construct.” – Essex Director of Equity and Inclusion Erin Maguire, May 4

“The EWSD is not implementing a ‘critical race theory’ curriculum. The District has not spent funds on any such program.” – Superintendent Beth Cobb, May 18

Both the May 4 and May 18 regular scheduled meeting was well-attended by Essex citizens concerned about the extent of influence of CRT, as was a special meeting called to discuss a citizen ‘conflict of interest’ complaint against Cady, whose probing questions continue to bring to light the extent of CRT in the school district. The complaint was dismissed.

The school district is spending a lot of money on programs not labeled as Critical Race Theory, but which are indeed Critical Race Theory. Courageous Conversations is one of these programs, teaching students that systemic racism is why some cannot achieve and why others have privilege. The SEL (Social Emotional Learning) program – in which students are instructed to talk and write about their white supremacy, the similarity of police brutality to lynching, and the need to keep race in the forefront of every conversation – is also another Critical Race Theory program.  EWSD is using CASEL, which is aimed at “redistributing power to promote social justice.”

According to a citizen analysis of this year’s budget presentation, EWSD will spend over $1 million on Critical Race Theory-based programs:

Courageous Conversations Whole System Plan – $30,000 
Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy Training All Teachers – $30,000 
Material Purchasing – $10,000 
Stipends for Affinity Group Feedback and Focus Forums – $10,000 
Multicultural Helpdesk – $40,000 
Other Professional Development – $20,000 
Equity Coach at EHS – $100,000 
Equity Consultation Services – $20,000 
SEL Coaches – $700,000 
Purchase of SEL Curriculum – $82,000.

What is Critical Race Theory?

The following is excerpted from an essay by Christopher Rufo in the March, 2021 issue Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College:

“Critical race theory is an academic discipline, formulated in the 1990s, built on the intellectual framework of identity-based Marxism. Relegated for many years to universities and obscure academic journals, over the past decade it has increasingly become the default ideology in our public institutions. It has been injected into government agencies, public school systems, teacher training programs, and corporate human resources departments in the form of diversity training programs, human resources modules, public policy frameworks, and school curricula.

“There are a series of euphemisms deployed by its supporters to describe critical race theory, including “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching.” Critical race theorists, masters of language construction, realize that “neo-Marxism” would be a hard sell. Equity, on the other hand, sounds non-threatening and is easily confused with the American principle of equality. But the distinction is vast and important. Indeed, equality—the principle proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, defended in the Civil War, and codified into law with the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—is explicitly rejected by critical race theorists. To them, equality represents “mere nondiscrimination” and provides “camouflage” for white supremacy, patriarchy, and oppression.

“In contrast to equality, equity as defined and promoted by critical race theorists is little more than reformulated Marxism. In the name of equity, UCLA Law Professor and critical race theorist Cheryl Harris has proposed suspending private property rights, seizing land and wealth and redistributing them along racial lines. Critical race guru Ibram X. Kendi, who directs the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, has proposed the creation of a federal Department of Antiracism. This department would be independent of (i.e., unaccountable to) the elected branches of government, and would have the power to nullify, veto, or abolish any law at any level of government and curtail the speech of political leaders and others who are deemed insufficiently “antiracist.”

“One practical result of the creation of such a department would be the overthrow of capitalism, since according to Kendi, “In order to truly be antiracist, you also have to truly be anti-capitalist.” In other words, identity is the means and Marxism is the end.”

Alternatives to CRT are supported by FAIR, a national racial justice organization getting started in Essex Junction.

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Categories: Education

5 replies »

  1. Consider this discussion on School Choice by former AG William Barr.

    Barr is a bit late to the party from my perspective, having debated this issue for 30 years. But better late than never. However, Barr’s argument may turn out to be counter-productive if he’s not careful. Comparing the Left’s dogma to Conservative School Choice is a false dichotomy from the start. The debate inevitably goes as follows. The Left has every right to promote its ‘socio-political philosophy’ (CRT, the 1619 Project, Marxism. etc.). So, when push comes to shove and vouchers are justified based on ‘equal philosophical opportunity’, the real motivation on the Left will expose itself. The Left will gladly turn against its pretend doctrine. It will offer to eliminate CRT, the 1619 Project and Marxism from its repertoire (as long as other conservative beliefs are equally limited), and then prevail on its new-found pure neutrality to justify the status quo – its control of the purse strings – the Left’s true ‘holy grail’.

  2. So let me see if I’ve got this right: The citizens complain that the school board is folding outrageous stuff from Critical Race Theory into their children’s curriculum. The superintendent’s retort is…look, the budget has nothing in it called “Critical Race Theory”…?,but all the outrageous stuff is still there? Sort of like arguing that none of the stuff on the table is called CARRION as their rational for feeding us road kill? Families, needing to get immediate relief for their kid, are confronted with an essentially unresponsive organization. Release families from their indenture…let them spend their tax money for the schooling they want for their kids’ education. Let the MONEY FOLLOW the KID

  3. Were I a resident of this school district, I would move mountains to void this very “sick” program. It is CRT by another name but the same ilk. Seven hundred thousand dollars for “program coaches” ? Just an attempt at indoctrination. Like sending youngsters to a North Korea Mental Adjustment Camp. Parents, please do not subject your children to this program. Parents and students should object most strenuously if the budget includes this program. No way can this be referred to as Conservative School Choice. This is as far Left and Radical all the way!

    • I’m not sure where you get the idea that CRT, the 1619 Project and Marxism are Conservative School Choice tenants. They aren’t. But the Left is claiming that it has as much right to ‘choose’ its Leftist dogma as conservatives have choosing a more traditional non-secular orthodoxy.

      Make no mistake, though. When the logical solution is determined to be ‘Let the MONEY FOLLOW the KID’ (which it should be), the Left will show its true colors and forsake all individualism, be it their own Leftist dogma or Conservative School Choice, because what interests the Left isn’t the doctrine, it’s control of the funding.

      When you decide to take this on, you will find that moving mountains is a lot easier than breaking the public-school monopoly.