Critical Race Theory (CRT) is “very intentionally” embedded in curriculum used throughout Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), according to Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, who has urged the district’s school board to oppose an anti-CRT measure in the Michigan legislature.
The comments about CRT being incorporated into Detroit classrooms were made at a Nov. 9 school board meeting, but only recently gained media attention after footage of the meeting was shared on social media. One of the topics discussed during the 3-hour long meeting was House Bill 5097, which would prohibit the state or local school boards from including certain concepts of CRT in their core academic curriculum content standards.
The proposal, which has passed the state House and the Senate’s education committee, doesn’t mention CRT in its texts but instead, seeks to ban “race or gender stereotyping.” Specifically, it targets assertions such as that all individuals of the same race or gender hold the same belief or act the same way, that individuals are born racist or sexist by accident of their race or gender, or that a certain race or gender is “in need of deconstruction, elimination, or criticism.”
Vitti argued that the board should take a stand against this legislative effort, saying that the CRT has already been a part of the DPSCD curricula for various subjects.
“Our curriculum is deeply using critical race theory, especially in social studies, but you’ll find it in English Language Arts and the other disciplines,” he told the board members. “We’re very intentional about creating a curriculum, infusing materials, and embedding critical race theory within our curriculum.”
The incorporation of CRT is necessary, according to Vitti, because Detroit students “need to understand the truth of history, to understand the history of this country, to better understand who they are, and about the injustices in this country.”
The superintendent added that the bill is likely to pass the Republican-majority Senate as well, but hopefully, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, will veto it as she has done to many other measures backed by the Republicans.
“Based on what other states have done in legislatures controlled by Republicans, this looks like it may pass,” he said. “I think our best strategy politically is to lean on the governor to veto it.”
Meanwhile, members of the Democratic minority in the Michigan legislature continue to insist that CRT is not being taught at schools, and that anti-CRT measures are meant to restrict discussions of racism in history.
“I want to be very, very clear: CRT is not taught in any of our K–12 schools,” said Democratic state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky in a Nov. 22 livestream on Facebook. “What [House Bill 5097] would end up doing, if it was signed into law, is limiting what teachers can discuss and how they can discuss it—things like slavery, Jim Crow, Reconstruction, and the Holocaust.”
An outgrowth of Marxism, the CRT interprets society through a Marxist dichotomy between “oppressor” and “oppressed,” but replacing the class categories with the racial identity groups. While school administrators and teachers who endorse CRT do not teach the theory itself to young children, they inject its key elements into policies, training programs, curricula, teaching materials, class activities, and homework assignments.
Parents Defending Education, a parent-led non-profit organization, has documented hundreds of such cases from across the United States. For example, a class of third-graders at a San Jose, California, elementary school was instructed to “deconstruct their racial identities,” then rank themselves according to “power and privilege” they supposedly possess. In an elementary school in Washington’s Bellevue School District, second-grade students were told to have “explicit conversations about race, equity, and access” in an effort to help them “recognize and identify white culture.”