CHANDLER, Ariz. — A strange thing is happening at school board meetings across the Valley.
Parents are showing up to speak their minds, some of them even carrying protest signs. They worry that their school curriculums are being threatened by an outside force.
But the districts being targeted say they have no plans to change the curriculum.
So what’s going on? The concern is over what’s known as Critical Race Theory.
What is Critical Race Theory?
Critical Race Theory is an academic movement by civil rights scholars and activists. It examines America’s history and presents it through the lens of race and racism.
It teaches concepts like white privilege, microaggressions and institutionalized racism. They are concepts many educators have said help students understand the state of America today.
However, critics argue the curriculum is racist and can lead to discrimination against white people.
School Districts Bombarded By Comments
The possibility of the concept seeping into school curriculums has appeared to be causing tension at school board meetings across the Valley.
Debates about Critical Race Theory have surfaced in recent weeks during public comment sessions at Litchfield Elementary School District, Chandler Unified School District and Peoria Unified School District.
District leaders said that they are trying to dispel rumors.
“We have not had any discussions related to the exploration, adoption or implementation of this program of study for our students,” said Camille Casteel, Chandler Unified Superintendent during a May meeting.
District leaders are getting flooded with complaints and comments from parents on both sides of the issue, they told 12 News.
Confusion Between Equity Programs and CRT?
Chandler School Board President Barb Mozdzen said parents appear to be confusing the district’s ongoing efforts to address racial inequities at schools, which was adopted three years ago, with the Critical Race Theory curriculum.
“Those efforts to close achievement gaps and to address disciplinary situations, those I think are being misconstrued as being part of Critical Race Theory,” Mozdzem said.
There also seemed to be similar confusion in the Litchfield Elementary School District, where the district adopted an equality statement earlier this year. The district said that the statement was intended to address the cultural and racial differences of students.
During a recent school board meeting, some parents accused the board of placing the needs of minority students before white students. A board member pushed back against the criticism.
“I’m disheartened by the fact this entire document has been boiled down by race, and subgroups and trigger words because that was never the intent behind it,” said Danielle Clymer, board member of the Litchfield Elementary School District.
Up to Speed
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.