An elementary school in Colorado has gone viral on social media after promoting what appears to be a racially segregated event on the school’s playground.
The Centennial Elementary School, which is part of the Denver Public School (DPS) system, has recently planned “Families of Color Playground Night[s].” The school’s calendar suggests that the first event was scheduled to take place on Oct. 13, and would then reoccur on the second Wednesday of each month “at school, outside, as long as weather permits.”
Denver Public Schools now promoting racially-segregated playtime—for “equity.” pic.twitter.com/QO5XZXHfcX
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) December 14, 2021
Christopher Rufo, an author and filmmaker known for exposing the infiltration of critical race theory in K–12 education, posted on Twitter a photo of signage in front of the school. “Denver Public Schools now promoting racially-segregated playtime—for ‘equity,'” Rufo wrote in the post.
Rufo also reported that the event was organized by the school’s “Dean of Culture,” and that it was later canceled due to COVID-19 protocols, although the school planned to reschedule the event in the new year.
The photo quickly evolved into a meme, in which it is placed side by side with images showing pre-Civil Rights era segregated utilities, such as drinking fountains, with captions like “From separate but equal to separate but equitable.”
In response to wide spread criticism, Centennial said they planned the event after meeting with some of the school’s black families, and that “all families are welcome to attend all of our events.”
“Some of these families shared with us that, since the only time many of them see one another is at drop-off and pick-up times, we host some events where Black families can meet one another, connect with one another and share their experiences about the school with one another,” the school said in a statement to The National Desk. “We are honoring their request.”
The DPS also stepped in to defend Centennial, saying that this event was prompted by “a specific request from families to create a space of belonging” and was not meant to create division.
Rufo dismissed these arguments, saying that it is yet another manifestation of critical race theory in American schools.
“Critical race theory has revived racial segregation in America’s public institutions,” he told The National Desk. “Denver Public Schools’ racially segregated playtime is racism under the guise of ‘equity.’ Denver Public Schools should immediately suspend this program, which violates the Colorado Constitution.”
Dave Kopel, a law professor at University of Denver, agreed with Rufo. He said in a Twitter thread that the event could be in violation of the state constitution, which states there should not be “any distinction or classification of pupils … made on account of race or color.”
In a document (pdf) released in September, the DPS listed some of its “transition priorities” for the upcoming 2021–22 school year. One of priorities is “equity,” which is to “dismantle oppressive systems and structures rooted in racism and classism, and center students and team members with a focus on racial and educational equity.”
The document also includes an “equity statement,” which declares that equity will be achieved “when we dismantle deeply rooted systems of oppression that have historically resulted in inequitable access and distribution of opportunities and resources for those who represent marginalized identities, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language and ability.”