As the Sentinel has been reporting for several weeks now, Critical Race Theory — disguised as “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” has been gaining a serious foothold in Kansas schools.

From Hiawatha to Shawnee Mission, to Topeka and Olathe, school districts across the state have been embracing the controversial and often divisive ideologies, and while the Kansas State Board of Education claims that Kansas educational standards have, “never, ever included critical race theory,” the Kansas National Education Association chapter — the largest teacher’s union in the state — has a page specifically dedicated to various social justice “resources” for teachers.

The teacher union in Oklahoma is openly pushing the tenets of critical race theory. 

Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Education Association — like the KNEA, a state chapter of the National Education Association — hosted an online symposium for the Oklahoma Aspiring Educators Association on “Racial and Social Justice,” which brought new meaning to the term “divisive.”

The Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs’ media arm the Center for Independent Journalism, reported that everything from generally being “white,” to the police, to being a white woman in education were under attack.

OCPA’s Ray Carter — director of the Center for Independent Journalism — reported that one of the speakers said the only reason for police to be in school is to “beat” students of color.

“Police were brought into schools — have always been brought into schools — as a way to oppress, suppress, beat, and harm our black, indigenous, and students of color — historically, always,” said Erika Chavarria, an NEA Social Justice Activist finalist for 2017.

Another NEA Social Justice Activist Finalist from 2017, Terry Jess, dismissed COVID 19-related losses of education attainment as “centered in whiteness” and that “It’s just white learning that’s been lost.

A third speaker, likewise a 2017 finalist, Chelsie Joy Acosta, attacked white women in the teaching profession.

“The majority of educators across the nation are white women, middle-aged white women, even a little bit older, right?” Acosta said.  “Our institution of education that we’re speaking of, and the institutions around us, have embedded this deep layer of implicit bias, right, in every different space.”

Moreover, Carter reports that attendees were told  “white supremacy” includes things like “worship of the written word,” “individualism,” and “objectivity,” and that white people should not see themselves as “individuals” but as members of a “racially socializing group.”

OKEA has since pulled the videos from their website, following Carter’s reporting.

“Anybody could watch it, it was interesting how open they were with a lot of this stuff,” Carter said in a recent phone interview, adding that — so far — the CRT, DEI whatever, is spreading in a more organic fashion. “Our impression here is that it seems to depend a lot on the individual teachers and how much they want to bring it into the classroom, and then individual districts. Some are pushing harder than others.”

KNEA new teacher training?

The Sentinel reached out to KNEA to determine if similar training or new teacher resources were being offered.

KNEA Business Services Manager John Metzger assured the Sentinel over the phone that such resources did exist, but referred questions to Communications Director Marcus Baltzel. Attempts to reach Baltzel for comment or to obtain the training materials were unsuccessful.

Videos scrubbed from OKEA website

The Sentinel also reached out to OKEA to ask why the videos were removed and Communications Specialist Doug Folks responded via email stating, “That video was for members only and should not have been available on the public side of our website.”

The Sentinel then reached out again to Carter, who noted that the videos — which according to archive.org, appear to have been posted on April 11, and taken down on August 4 — disappeared within days of his reporting. He also had little truck with OKEA’s statement.

“I think their response speaks for itself,” he said.

Folks sent a second reply to the Sentinel’s inquiries reading, “If you’d like to submit some questions, we (sic) look at answering them.”

In response, the Sentinel asked: 

  • Is it the position of OKEA that concerns over COVID 19-related learning loss are “completely centered in whiteness,” and that current standards of academic achievement are “inherently racist?”
  • Does the OKEA find it acceptable to say that any deficiencies in attainment due to the pandemic are acceptable because it is “just white learning that’s been lost?”
  • Is it the position of the OKEA that teachers who do not embrace “antiracism” (as opposed to simply treating all students equally) need to “get out of the profession” because they otherwise “perpetuate white supremacy?”
  • Is the OKEA in agreement that there are too many white female teachers and that they embed a “deep layer of implicit bias?”
  • If these are not the positions of the OKEA, or endorsed by the OKEA, why did the OKEA choose to remove the video from the website?
  • Likewise, if the OKEA is in agreement with these statements again, why remove the video?
  • Again, do parents not have a right to know what ideologies are being taught to future — and likely current teachers? 
  • Given that many parents — of any ethnicity — may be in opposition to such teaching, should there not be transparency surrounding this type of training so parents may — at the least — counter it at home with their children?

As of publication time, no response has been received.

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