Several parents spoke out against the North Thurston Public School’s (NTPS) decision to implement its new social justice curricula during the regular school board meeting on Tuesday, August 17.
Just last year, NTPS issued an equity resolution that is meant to eliminate inequities in a child’s education. According to the resolution, the board believed that children as young as three years old are capable of showing racial preferences and at six become conscious of racial stereotypes.
NTPS defines equity as “fairness or justice in the way people are treated." As a part of the board’s commitment to promote equity, they have recently implemented Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards. Details of the Teaching Tolerance goals and language are available by clicking the link in the previous sentence. These standards serve as a guide on how students at different grade levels can deal with racism and inequity under a given scenario.
However, integrating these ideas into the schools’ curricula did not sit well with some parents and community members. Alex, a parent and Lacey resident said, “I’m here tonight because you have a problem. You have a problem and you seem stuck. Last year you created an equity resolution, and it sounded good and noble...However, the result has been a bit of a disaster...Students of color now see themselves as victims, and others as oppressors. This school had muddied the waters here in Lacey.”
Some parents also stated they believed that the school board had adopted Critical Race Theory, an intellectual movement that adheres to the belief that race is a social construct, and that law and other social institutions are essentially designed to perpetuate these inequalities.
Shane Hunter, a U.S. Army veteran stated, “I’ve seen our taxes go up, but the education of my children regresses...This time it's regression of education in the school system with indoctrination of ideologies like the Critical Race Theory.” The former army veteran continued, “Pushing critical race theory is not uplifting, edifying, or educating children...kids are being brainwashed about systematic racism.”
Other parents believed that integrating these ideas into a child’s learning is a form of indoctrination. Tina Panja said, “I think you should stay in your lane. You’re a board that is supposed to be like education, not indoctrination.”
Former educators also spoke against the current curricula. Retired math teacher Ezekiel Luwin said, “math’s subjective, any attempt to blend ideas of social justice or race in the math will waste valuable time and make a subject that many students find confusing impossible.” He believed that as a former educator, integrating social issues in these subjects will make the students less competitive.
Jerry Bennett, a former educator, asked whether the NTPS conducted a survey or poll to help them decide to implement the new curricula. “The decision to put something up there...you have to be represented by the community,” he claimed.
Today the district issued a statement responding to the comments above. It reads:
“North Thurston Public Schools does not have a Critical Race Theory curriculum or class, nor does the state mandate we do so.
“NTPS’s commitment is to ensure that all students are empowered and future-ready by building a foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our focus is on improving educational outcomes for students through high-quality instruction, social and emotional support, literacy, math, staying on track for graduation, and involvement in extracurricular and real-world experiences. We are dedicated to each student’s success, and that looks different for every student.
“Furthermore, our teachers and administrators must be supported and encouraged to teach the truth about history to develop critical thinking and perspective in our students so that they can draw their own conclusions about the past, current events, and the impacts of social injustice.”
On requiring masks in schools
Aside from lobbying against the board’s equity resolution, parents also demanded that masks should be considered as optional and not a requirement. In a statement, parent Stephanie Grip said, “where’s the science behind this? Even Dr. Fauci said masks don’t work...masks hinder their emotional and mental growth. How are you protecting our children by forcing them to wear a masks? The scientific data for masking our children on COVID-19 is simply not there. Allow us parents to raise our children, and not the government.”
This is not the first time that a local school board came under fire related to allegations of racism. Last month, Tumwater School District lost its new Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Alekcander Zhdanov, after his personal social media posts surfaced which involves belittling white Christians and Trump supporters. Read our story.
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