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Local NAACP explains difference between Critical Race Theory and teaching for equity

In light of recent national and local conversations and controversy regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT), please read the following:

What is CRT?

CRT is an academic framework that examines the impact of systemic racism on American society. It is not taught in K-12 schools because it is used in fields of professional and academic research.

Is CRT new?

No. CRT became widely read and used beginning in the 1970s in legal research. In recent months, CRT has become a catch-all term for school programs (teacher education, curriculum, and more) that focus on anti-racist practices, social justice, and/or diversity and equity. We can describe these as “teaching for equity.”

So what does teaching for equity look like?

Teaching for equity is a library of books and resources that include many different kinds of characters. It is a classroom rich in discussion about current events where students have ample opportunity to practice critical thinking and discourse. It is a history unit that includes several resources from different perspectives. It is a picture book read aloud about a community much like the students’ in an entirely different part of the world. It is a guest speaker coming to share how their family celebrates a holiday unfamiliar to most of the students in the class. All of these examples affirm the identities of students, build critical thinking skills, and open students’ eyes to different perspectives.

Is teaching about race and racism indoctrination?

No. Presenting students with resources that reflect multiple perspectives means that students are learning to look critically at historical events, literature, media and more. All of us want our students to think critically and independently...that’s what this kind of teaching supports. It teaches children HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Bringing their personal histories and identities to school and learning about others’ leads to greater community connections and deeper learning, as well.

Does NAACP-Culpeper support CRT in our K-12 schools?

No-CRT is for academia, not K-12! We DO, however, support teaching for equity, which is often inaccurately conflated with CRT. 

Every child deserves a high-quality, rigorous education that pushes them to reach their full potential. Currently, not all students have these opportunities; students of color, especially Black students, continue to achieve at much lower levels than their White peers in Culpeper, Madison, and Rappahannock counties.

There are significant gaps between White and Black/Hispanic students’ reading levels, math achievement, graduation rates, and participation in gifted education programs and AP programs. Teaching for equity supports the closing of these gaps. Research shows that a positive school climate where all students feel welcomed and valued leads to higher achievement for all children (students of color as well as White students), as does rigorous, high-level instructional programming. 

Teaching for equity IS high-quality, rigorous education because it engages students in higher-level thinking that encourages them to consider multiple perspectives. As a civil rights organization, we will continue to fight for this every single day. Education IS a civil right. If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at education@naacpculpeper.com .

You are also invited to attend our NAACP general membership meetings, held over zoom the third Thursday each month.

The writers are members of the NAACP-Culpeper Education Committee. The Culpeper branch of the NAACP also represents Madison and Rappahannock counties.


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