School culture war: ‘You brought division to us’

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School culture war: ‘You brought division to us’

“I want my child to go to school without a mask,” a woman shouted at a union official In Broward County last week, protesters held up signs saying “My Body, My Choice” and “Mask = Child Abuse.” Broward County voted to require masks despite the governor’s order.

The rhetoric was also in St. John’s County, 300 miles away, where masked parents demonstrated with young children and urged school officials to defy the governor’s order. “Dead children are not acceptable harm,” read a sign. After a school board meeting that lasted more than seven hours last week, masks remained optional.

“We have been handcuffed,” said the school board chair.

Also, at least 28 states, largely Republican-controlled, have moved to restrict education on race and history. Another 15 states, mostly run by Democrats, have moved to expand racial education, according to Chalkbeat, a non-profit education news outlet.

Much of the debate has centered on critical race theory, an advanced academic concept that analyzes racism at systemic levels and is not usually taught until college.

“It’s not really about important race theory,” said Dorinda Carter Andrews, a professor of race, culture and equity at Michigan State University, where she teaches such a course. “It’s really a distraction,” she said, “to suppress the way teachers engage young people in race dialogue.”

Keith Ammon, a Republican state representative in New Hampshire, is among those who have sought to regulate how teachers talk about race. He said concepts such as white privilege can create a “divisive worldview” and that he was wary of teachers who “bring their activism into the classroom.”

As a legislator, he said, he has the task of “giving some guidelines on how taxpayers’ money is used.”

As these laws take effect, teachers may increasingly find themselves in the cross hairs.

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