School district tried to tackle racism, group of parents hit back


Three years ago, a video went viral of a group of teenage college students chanting the n-word at a private party in Southlake, Texas. Now, as the school district tries to incorporate cultural awareness into the curriculum, a group of parents is fighting back.

Southlake is not a racist community – that was the consensus of many parents at a Carroll Independent School District School Board meeting in Southlake on Monday.

The meeting took place after the city’s elections over the weekend, which saw huge wins for candidates opposing the district’s plans. Two school board candidates, two for city council and the mayoral candidate all won with around 70% of the vote.

They were all endorsed by Southlake Families PAC, a group whose main issue is Carroll’s new ISD Cultural Competency Action Plan, which was formed in response to that viral 2018 video. presented for adoption last August before being postponed, aims to tackle racism in the neighborhood by emphasizing the “cultural awareness” of students through anti-bullying programs and assembly speakers, according to one project. It also requires things like diversity training for staff.

All of this is opposed by the Southlake Families PAC. On its website, the Political Action Committee calls the plan “some of the most extreme liberal positions in the history of public education in Texas,” saying the plan is “excessive” and “indoctrinates children according to extremely liberal beliefs ”.

The PAC website acknowledges racism is a problem, but says the plan is not a solution: “We say that true racism remains a problem across the world, and while rare in Southlake, we are there. oppose. We deny that the current CCAP is a solution to any racist problem and, in fact, creates more racism, not less.

‘Critical Race Theory Doesn’t Come Here,’ PAC Says

At Monday’s school board meeting, many parents and community members echoed these positions while referring to the winning results of the weekend’s election.

“Seventy percent of our community disagreed with critical race theory,” one person said. “Seventy percent deny the systemic racism at Carroll ISD.”

While the outline does not specifically mention Critical Race Theory, the field of study has become a catch-all for any type of education involving race. The current plan, however, is focused on cultural awareness, referring to the “increasingly diverse student body” in the district.

“The indoctrination of the children is over,” said another speaker.

Southlake is a suburb of Dallas-Fort Worth. The city is 79% white and the median income is around $ 240,000, according to the US Census Bureau.

Following the weekend elections, the Southlake Families PAC written on twitter, “Critical race theory does not come here. This is what happens when good people stand up and say, not in my town, not under my watch. “

A few days later, the group expanded this position.

“The CRT is a theoretical framework that sees society as dominated by white supremacy and categorizes people as ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color,” the group wrote on Monday. “It also teaches kids to hate America. Ask yourself who in their right mind would want this taught in public schools? “

CNN emailed the group for further comment, but did not receive a response.

The whole situation – the finger pointing at critical race theory, the emphasis on indoctrination and general vilification of racial education – is part of a larger trend currently unfolding in the world. United States.

Last week Idaho decided to ban “critical race theory” or any racial education in its public schools, including public universities. Although Bill framed the ruling as a ban on teaching that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior,” supporters of the bill specifically called the theory criticism of the breed, and also claimed that the students were being brainwashed – as in Southlake.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley Tuesday written on twitter, “Critical Race Theory Is Detrimental to a Child’s Raising,” posted above a short video with graphic reading, “Schools must stop teaching children that they are racist. “

Critical Race Theory, according to those who study it, actually refers to an area of ​​study dedicated to understanding systemic inequalities and racism in the United States, arguing that historical systems such as slavery still play a role in today’s society.

“It’s an approach to fighting a white supremacist story that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is a thing of the past,” said Kimberlé Crenshaw, a founding theorist of the critical race and law professor at UCLA and Columbia University, to CNN in October.

Former students recount multiple racist incidents at Carroll ISD

On the other side is a group called the Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition, a group of past and present Carroll ISD students fighting for change in the district. The group’s claims, according to its website, display an opposite approach to that of the Southlake Families PAC.

“We demand that the Carroll Independent School District be actively anti-racist and dismantle its complicity in systemic racism and bigotry. We demand action now, ”the group says.

Several SARC members, all Carroll ISD graduates, spoke to CNN. Regarding the 2018 video that triggered the Cultural Competency Action Plan, all said they weren’t surprised the behavior happened.

“It happens all the time in schools in Carroll,” said Raven Rolle, the district’s 2019 graduate. “I think the reaction from most people in town was just, ‘Let’s leave them alone, they’re feeling it. a lot of hate “… not really focusing on the fact that it was racist.”

Rolle, who is black, recalled multiple experiences where white peers used the n-word. Although she reported them to school officials, she says they were never penalized.

CNN has contacted Carroll ISD on several occasions by email and phone to verify these incidents, but has not received a response.

Rolle recalled a specific incident in which a student used the word repeatedly. When she went to the principal’s office to report them, she said the other student denied all of this. Meanwhile, she said, the headmaster told her, “Don’t let them turn down the lights, everything will be fine.

Shawn Duhon, principal of Carroll Senior High School, said in an email to CNN that he “cannot comment on the specifics of a student or a disciplinary situation”.

“I can recognize that an incident was reported to our administrative team by a student a few weeks before graduation and as an administrator we worked with the parents of the two students involved to resolve the issue,” said writes Duhon.

A former student, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said they were called the n-word every day during class for two years.

“No one asked me if I was okay, no one did anything to show they cared about me,” they said. “I did not know what to do. I was 14 years old.

They are now in their early twenties. CNN spoke with another former student who said she was in class when these cases occurred. This student said, “It really happened. I don’t know if this happened every day, but there were several instances during our time… together ”in class.

CNN contacted the two instructors who taught the class at the time several times for a statement, but did not receive a response.

The problem, said several former students, is that the use of insult is often viewed as bullying, not racism. And the faculty doesn’t always see that as a problem, said Maddy Heymann, a 2017 graduate. She used “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a book they had to read, as an example.

“Someone in the class will say the n-word while reading the book,” Heymann said, “because teachers think it’s an important part of reading the book, when it just proliferates the idea. that’s an acceptable word to say. ”

The proposed action plan for cultural skills is not perfect, several students said.

Anya Kushwaha, a 2016 graduate, noted that the 34-page document only refers to racism once and does not address systemic or institutionalized issues. Instead, it focuses primarily on preventing bullying and increasing “cultural awareness”.

But it’s better than nothing, Kushwaha said.

“At the bare minimum, any semblance of a plan like this is necessary just because of how far away we are,” they said.


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