On July 14, about a hundred people gathered on the Capitol building steps in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, calling for an end to Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools. The rally was organized by Lois Kaneshiki and the group Stop Common Core, CRT & Action Civics in Pennsylvania.
The rally took place 2 hours before a Pennsylvania Board of Education meeting was set to begin.
Laura Zorc, the Director of Education Reform at FreedomWorks, said at the rally that the event organizer was trying to organize the rally at 11 a.m. so that attendees could go over to the Board of Education and express their concerns over critical race theory. “They chose to meet in Zoom right after we announced this rally,” Zorc said, “we see that the Board of Education does not want to listen to us.”
Zorc flew in from Florida to join the rally, saying “because this is not just about Pennsylvania. This is about the Foundation of America. And we must preserve it so that we can hand it over to our children.”
Pennsylvania Department of Education told The Epoch Times by email: “Since 2020 due to COVID-19, the State Board meetings have been virtual. Public comment has always and will continue to remain open during the State Board meetings.”
Jonathan Butcher, a Will Skillman Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation, said that parents around the country are rejecting critical race theory at rallies in places like Virginia, Texas, and Delaware. Butcher, who flew in from South Carolina to speak at the rally, said “there is too much going on in schools right now that is promoting racial discrimination. Call it critical race theory, call it woke agenda, call it the new left. But the idea that we should treat people differently based on the color of their skin is an idea that should be in the dustbin of history.” He gave an example of one of their grievances, “California’s new math curriculum called equitable math talks about white supremacy some 54 times in one of their manuals.”
The term “critical race theory” is used in some public schools in the United States, such as Portland public schools in Oregon, the Hayward school district in California, and the Loudoun County Public School in Virginia. Furthermore, the National Education Association, the largest teacher union in the United States, resolved at an annual meeting that they would make sure critical race theory remains in the school curriculum.
Rep. Gleim: Parents Consider Pulling Kids Out of Public Education
A featured speaker included state Rep. Barbara Gleim, a co-sponsor of House Bill 1532. “Our bill does not prohibit the teaching of history or violate any part of the First Amendment. Our bill seeks to ensure that children are not shamed, blamed, or otherwise singled out for acts committed by others throughout history,” Gleim told the audience. The bill titled the “Teaching Racial and Universal Equality Act” (TRUE Act), would defund any school that includes critical race theory as part of its curriculum.
Gleim said HB1532 has received overwhelming bipartisan support. She hopes to get a hearing in the fall before putting the bill out to the General Assembly for voting.
Gleim, who is also on the House Education Committee and the House Children & Youth Committee, said that critical race theory does not serve the needs of the Commonwealth: “It pains us all to see what is happening in public education. As a result, parents are considering pulling their kids out of public education,” she said at the rally.
Pastor Green: CRT Takes Away From Hope
Pastor Joseph L. Green Jr. of St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church in Harrisburg and founder of the 2019 Movement aimed at racial and cultural reconciliation, said at the rally, “I’m really concerned about this issue of critical race theory. I’ve studied it in pretty good detail. And I think it’s something that’s very harmful and detrimental to this country, and especially to black and white relationships here in America. I think it fades, the flame is very divisive, and it gives a false paint, a false picture of our real history in America.”
“Why [do] I reject critical race theory? I take it as an insult on certain levels that I’ve been told that I’m a constant victim in America that I can’t accomplish things because [of] color, my skin, and those types of things,” said Green, who is also the state coordinator for No Left Turn in Education.
He aslo shared a few reasons why people must reject CRT and not teach it to children: “Critical race theory is a conglomeration of many ideals that we have rejected over the generations. So whether it’s German idealism, and Immanuel Kant and/or conflict theory with Karl Marx or the Frankfurt School, or critical theory and all those other ideologies that we have rejected, it’s just a conglomeration of those things.” He continued, “CRT is rooted in the Marxist theory of class struggle but particularly focuses on race. It’s an anti-God and anti-Christ ideology and proponents of CRT racism [are] in every aspect of the American public and private life.”
As a historian, Green believes that it is important to learn history: “The great Marcus Garvey stated of people without the knowledge of their past history and origin and culture are like a tree without roots. We also know that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, and those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Green suggests parents tell the school boards and administrators to say no to CRT. “We don’t want equal outcomes. We want equal opportunity for all people.” There are 500 school districts in Pennsylvania.
Attorney Scaringi: Martin Luther King Jr. Would Have Denounced CRT
Marc Scaringi, an attorney in South Central Pennsylvania, spoke at the rally and quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s August 1963 speech at the Lincoln Memorial: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Scaringi said “these schools are desecrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and the leading advocates of CRT denounce King’s dream for a colorblind America. And Dr. King, he would have denounced CRT.”
Scaringi shared his personal experience in getting involved to combat CRT in Pennsylvania’s public schools. He represented an individual father and substitute teacher Andrew Fisher in the South Middleton school district. The school tried to stop him from advocating and expressing his dissatisfaction with the school bringing CRT into its curriculum policies and practices in April. The school solicitor sent him a cease and desist letter, and then later on, actually fired him from a substitute teacher position. “Mr. Fisher came to me. I sent the solicitor a letter demanding that he rescind this prohibition and threat within seven days; otherwise, I’ll advise my client to take legal action. The solicitor rescinded the cease and desist letter, thus restoring my client’s First Amendment rights (to free speech). And the school immediately reinstated Mr. Fisher as a substitute teacher,” Scaringi said at the rally. “We got everything we wanted within just a few hours with one email.”
South Middleton had used a $15,000 grant to hire an equity consultant to train teachers and administrators on how to incorporate the Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion (JEDI) initiative into classes. Later, the South Middleton school board dropped the name but kept the program. “So the fight continues,” Scaringi stated.
“And by the way, whether it’s called critical race theory, critical theory, anti-racism, social justice theory, social, emotional learning, JEDI, intersectionality equity, or educational equity, it’s all essentially the same thing. It’s all a NEO Marxist ideology, based upon the same false premise, that America was conceived in and founded upon slavery, that America is systemically racist, a white supremacist nation whose institutions oppress blacks and other minorities to this very day,” Scaringi said.
Scaringi said the push to indoctrinate students with CRT is happening in schools all over Pennsylvania and all over the country. He said a few weeks ago, at the Pennsbury School District Board meeting in Bucks County outside of Philadelphia, the school solicitor shut down several residents expressing their opposition to CRT.
Now in his town, the Camp Hill school district is incorporating CRT or equity education, and allowing discrimination based upon race, color, or national origin, something he says violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Scaringi has his four children enrolled in that district. He thinks if the Camp Hill School District is systemically racist, it should be shut down and school taxes should be refunded to parents “so we can use them to send our children to non-racist schools.”
Scaringi also cited black professors and authors who say the theory dehumanizes black Americans. “It hurts the black children too, to be constantly told by their teachers and administrators, that they are oppressed and that they are victims, and that they can’t learn how to do math because of their victimhood status. It’s a terrible ideology that’s being put into our schools,” Scaringi said.
“We must step up and stop CRT so that we can fulfill the legacy and the dream of Dr. King. We must overcome critical race theory,” Scaringi concludes, “so that your children, my children, and our children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Serena Shi and Steve Wen contributed to this report.