People wore MAGA hats and waved signs outside a packed school board meeting this week in Reno, while trustees considered expanding the K-5 curriculum to include more teaching on equity, diversity and racism.
Opponents say the proposal would lead to the teaching of “critical race theory,” which seeks to reshape the narrative of American history. Critics say those lesson plans teach students to hate America.
One conservative group even suggested equipping teachers with body cameras to ensure they don’t indoctrinate children with such lessons.
“You have a serious problem with activist teachers pushing politics in the classroom, and there is no room for that, especially for our fifth graders,” Karen England, executive director of the Nevada Family Alliance, told district trustees. Washoe County School Tuesday.
District officials there and in Carson City, where a similar debate is unfolding, say critical race theory is not part of their plans.
The clashes mirror ongoing fights across the United States.
In GOP-controlled state governments, lawmakers passed measures banning the teaching of critical race theory, a reaction to the nation’s racial reckoning after the police murder of George Floyd last year.
Nevada has bucked that trend. Governor Steve Sisolak signed legislation this week to add multicultural education to social studies curriculum standards and teach students about the historical contributions of members of other racial and ethnic groups.
Dr. Jonathan Moore, deputy superintendent of the Nevada education agency, said the laws clarified the “content issues” of social studies, which already included concepts such as social justice and diversity. The standards do not include critical race theory, which draws a line between slavery and segregation and contemporary inequalities and maintains that racism remains embedded in laws and institutions.
Meanwhile, the black mother of a mixed-race student is suing a Las Vegas Charter school on a “Sociology of Change” course covering the concept of privilege as it pertains to race, gender, and sexual orientation.
In Reno, the Washoe County school district organized overflow rooms and set up speakers outside of Tuesday’s school board meeting to accommodate a large crowd.
Opponents gathered outside with signs reading “No CRT,” “CRT teaches racism,” and “The School Board works for the people!”
“You say there is no CRT (critical race theory) in this curriculum,” Sparks resident Bruce Parks told the trustees. “It’s being taught in our schools right now. When you use words and language like ‘white man’s privilege,’ ‘systemic racism,’ that’s straight from CRT.”
Across the hall, students, parents, and teachers wore green T-shirts and carried banners with slogans that included “Amplifying Student Voices” to signify support for “Washoe County School District Students for Change.” a group that has promoted the curriculum. additions.
“These are systemic issues and they have been here for a long time. But I think the protests last year really shed light on how divided and polarized people were,” said Michael Arreygue, a college student who attended Washoe County. schools. “There are people who do not want to recognize that these problems exist, that there is systemic racism and injustice.”
Superintendent Kristen McNeill recommended that the district form a task force to review the curriculum rather than implement the plan. The board approved the task force on Wednesday.
In Carson City, a proposal to incorporate concepts like equity into the strategic plan raised concerns about how schools are addressing the issue of race.
At a school board meeting Tuesday, Father Jason Tingle said he was concerned when he heard about critical race theory in schools.
But he reviewed the district’s materials and concluded that the fears were unfounded.
“I have yet to see anything in the curriculum that shows that we are really going to take a strict approach to critical race theory,” said Tingle, who has four children enrolled in district schools.
“Until our kids come home and show us something different or tell us something different, then we must keep our faith in the school district and let them do what they were sent here.”