What’s in a name? What’s in a definition? Or the expressed meaning? Or the perceived meaning?
In education we have seen lots of name changes and as well as shifts in meaning. Often times a new term/phrase will begin appearing as a euphemism. One example that many will recognize is the use of College and Career Ready Standards in place of Common Core State Standards. Are Culturally Responsive Teaching and Culturally Relevant Teaching euphemisms for diversity, equity, and inclusion? What about diversity, equity, and inclusion? Has that become a euphemism for CRT? Is it a coincidence that Culturally Responsive Teaching, Culturally Relevant Teaching, and Critical Race Theory are all CRT? Not to be confused with Criterion Referenced Test.
In addition to name changes, we have seen shifts in meaning. While sounding great by the words used, in practice the meaning may be something quite different than that perceived by most folks. Here are a few examples:
- Research– Corporate or foundation funded ideological report based on anecdotal evidence and consensus in lieu of empirical evidence
- Evidence-based– Consensus has been reached without regard or consideration of any evidence
- Data-driven– Decisions are driven by ways more data about students, parents, and teachers can be obtained
- Transparency— You are only being told and shown what they want you to hear and see while critical information is being withheld
- State-led– When states are led to make decisions and policy by non-elected and non-accountable individuals and groups and are non-responsive to the people of their state
- Education– Workforce pipeline preparation / indoctrination
- State Sovereignty– A system that allows states to proceed with plans once they have been approved by the federal government
A lot has been written about what Critical Race Theory is and isn’t. Some of it is spot on and some of it just plain spotty. Since you can read about what CRT is and isn’t in other places, I won’t go into the various meanings it takes on in the different arenas it has invaded. CRT seems to have one meaning at the graduate school level. It has escaped the realm of graduate school and its meaning has taken on Hydra like qualities.
The push for CRT seems to be supported by research, evidence-based, data-driven, and is transparent according the definitions provided above. In reality (does reality even exist anymore?), I’ve not seen any evidence CRT eliminates racism. I’ve also not seen any evidence CRT improves academic achievement. Where’s the evidence the push for diversity, equity, and inclusion will eliminate racism or improve academic achievement? What ever happened to teaching kids how to read, write, and do arithmetic?
Critical Race Theory. Theory is in the name. It’s a theory. At whatever level one considers, it has not been proven. So why should various Hydra-like elements of CRT be implemented with elementary students? Does that amount to indoctrination? There is precedent for implementing theory in elementary classrooms. The implementation of Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence took classrooms by storm. Like the Theory of Multiple Intelligence, CRT and the diversity, equity, and inclusive effort don’t seem to have much in the way of solid scientific support to back them. Who cares about scientific support? Is the passion of fanatics and ideologues enough to render scientific support unimportant or unnecessary?
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. What about the meaning of and as put into instructional practice of CRT, diversity, equity, and inclusion? How does that smell? Does it pass the sniff test? There are lots of varieties of roses, some with a sweet smell and some with little to no detectable odor. What is the odor of CRT, diversity, equity, and inclusion? Is it like that of a rose or more like stinkweed or skunk cabbage? Or are there many folks suffering from CRT anosmia that don’t smell a thing? Of course, that could be blamed on COVID.
What kind of society has an education system that enculturates kids in a way that does not reflect the culture and beliefs of the parents, community, and society at large?
And what about Washington State requiring all school personnel to undergo cultural competency, diversity, equity, and inclusion training?