Across the country, teachers and school board officials are facing constant threats due to GOP leaders and voters spreading consistent hate. From accusing school officials of taking away the parents’ rights to making fusses over masks in schools, conservatives are causing chaos. In some states, Republican officials are taking it even further by banning school teachers from teaching critical race theory and also allowing them not to use the correct pronouns for students.
Most recently, a Missouri school board voted not to renew a teacher’s contract after parents accused her of using critical race theory (CRT). According to the Springfield News-Leader, the vote came after Kim Morrison, an English teacher at Greenfield High School, was targeted for a worksheet she used as part of teaching the book Dear Martin.
Morrison told the outlet that it was her second year teaching the award-winning novel in a contemporary literature elective. The difference this time around was that students were assigned a 15-question worksheet titled “How Racially Privileged Are You?”
After the sheets were distributed, Morrison said she was asked to meet with the school’s principal Jennifer Roberts, who told her there had been complaints from parents.
“That first meeting, when she showed me she had a copy of the document and wanted to know the background, she said the people she was hearing from had said it was CRT,” Morrison told the Springfield News-Leader. “I said ‘Well, it’s not CRT. I don’t know what CRT is because I didn’t go to law school and we didn’t cover that in graduate school. It’s not that.” She added: “I said discussing racism is not CRT and she said she understood but that this is what she is hearing.”
While critical race theory was developed decades ago by legal scholars to argue that race is a social construct and racism is a part of U.S. policies and legal systems, many officials have now taken to targeting it, claiming it fuels racism and “undermines academic freedom,” the Springfield News-Leader reported.
As a result, GOP officials have banned the theory from being taught in schools. Speaking of these bans, Morrison said she explained the worksheet to Roberts, noting that she purchased it from a database of instructional materials that intended to help students examine their own experiences. She said the worksheet was not meant to prompt class discussion on racism.
”It was to prepare students for the conversation that was going to happen between two characters that we were about to read,” she said.
But despite her conversation with Roberts in February, Morrison was called to the office again in March, a couple of days before the school board meeting during which officials decided not to renew her contract.
When Morrison asked why her contract was not renewed, the school district’s superintendent responded in a letter on March 23, speaking on behalf of the board.
The letter obtained by the News-Leader confirmed the board’s decision not to rehire Morrison for the 2022-23 year, citing ”your decision to incorporate the worksheet associated with the novel ‘Dear Martin,’ due to the content and subject matter,” it read.
When contacted and asked if they would reconsider their decision, the board gave a hard no, claiming they wanted to have a district “everybody can be proud of.”
According to an APA study, due to these “culture wars,” 49% of teachers, 34% of school psychologists, 31% of administrators, and 29% of staff have expressed the desire or plan to quit their jobs or transfer. Decisions and lessons involving race have not only led teachers to lose their jobs, but also to be threatened and harassed.
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