A growing number of American parents are getting together to find ways to block the spread of the quasi-Marxist critical race theory (CRT) in schools where they send their children.
They see the doctrine as a culprit in creating a toxic environment and exacerbating problems it claims to ameliorate. School officials have been responding with denials or silence.
The existence of “systemic racism” is usually claimed based on disparate outcomes for different groups, such as lower average test scores or more detentions for black students.
Scholars have pointed out that the argument is specious.
Once parents learn what CRT is, they often disagree.
One group that attracted media attention is the Parents Against Critical Theory (PACT) in Loudon County, Virginia.
“We’re seeing what our kids are learning and our goal changes from opening schools to ‘Oh my gosh. What are we sending our children back to?’” one parent, who asked to remain anonymous because of concern about reprisals, told The Epoch Times.
“Basically, they’re categorizing children by race to determine the quality of education each will have, which is absolutely unacceptable,” she added.
She said her children won’t be returning to that school.
Loudoun County Public Schools spokesman Wayde Byard denied that the schools are determining the quality, level, or resources for education based on skin color.
"Our goal is to ensure equity based on this definition as outlined by the Virginia Department of Education: Education Equity is achieved when we eliminate the predictability of student outcomes based on race, gender, zip code, ability, socioeconomic status or languages spoken at home," he told The Epoch Times via email.
"As a school division, we are committed to ensuring the success of every student here in LCPS."
One parent was shocked to hear her daughter ask her whether she was a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Apparently, the child heard about it in class, but came away with a confused picture of what the KKK is. The parent had to explain that membership in such an organization is a bad thing. The child had no idea that the organization was started by Democrats more than a century ago and barely exists today, according to the parent.
Byard said the district "does not comment on anecdotal stories such as these" and that information about it, both on the student and the teacher side, would be confidential.
One teacher told a class that students can go protest and be excused from school as long as they are at least 14 years old and get parental consent, the mother learned from her child.
The school denied it, she said, but she wasn’t convinced.
“I’m going to believe my daughter probably over anything that they say,” she said.
Byard said the video is "an edited clip of a much-longer lesson and may not accurately reflect the context in which this discussion was held."
Another student was told he’d be marked absent from a pre-class session when he refused to talk about his “values.” He told his mother he was worried he’d be bullied and questioned if he disclosed his beliefs, she told The Epoch Times. His mother ultimately negotiated an arrangement where her son wouldn't be required to engage in the pre-class activities.
“We’ve been banging on drums for about nine or 10 months now, and parents are finally coming around to see what is going on here,” PACT founder Scott Mineo told The Epoch Times.
The district has responded by denying that CRT is used in its schools.
"No particular philosophy or theory is being used to indoctrinate students or staff," Byard said.
He acknowledged the district has adopted a “culturally responsive framework,” which the parents say is CRT under another name.
“They are flat-out lying to the community,” Mineo said.
The parents argue the outcome of this is the exact opposite.
“They’re forcing this doctrine that won’t result in less racism. It’ll result in a toxic environment,” one parent said.
While the movement against CRT started locally, the response has been national.
“The messages, the prayers, the thanks, the donations are actually coming from all across the country,” he said.
"In recent years activists have targeted public, private, and charter schools across the country with a campaign to impose toxic new curriculums and to force our kids into divisive identity groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, and gender," its website says, urging parents to join in to "stop the madness in our schools."
The pushback has prompted the parents to “double down,” Mineo said.
It may be off-putting for parents to try to find their way through the jargon-filled world of CRT ideologues, he acknowledged, but his point is to oppose CRT practice, rather than theory.
“What matters is how it’s manifesting itself and who is responsible,” he said.