I had hoped to avoid writing about critical race theory, but recent media reports, opinion columns, letters to the editor and communications to legislators misrepresenting CRT and its influence in our schools warrants a response.
The strange thing is that CRT has been around since the late 1970s, but most of us has never heard about it. Why? Because CRT is a construct of higher education, specifically schools of law. CRT was developed to spark wide-ranging discussions as to why racial inequality persists after so many years of legislative initiatives designed to mitigate racial discrimination. CRT is a theory. It is meant to be vigorously debated and challenged, at a level beyond K-12 education. After all, it is theory, not curriculum.
We are hearing about CRT now due to a concerted effort to gin up another front in our nation’s ongoing culture war. Political opportunists have redefined CRT into something that is meant to alarm the public. These charlatans contend that CRT has been unleashed into our schools to indoctrinate students to hate America and to blame white persons for America’s ills. They are taking the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with the Americans and rebranding them as “critical race theory.”
How do we know this? Because Christopher Rufo, who has turned CRT into a lucrative side hustle, told us so. Rufo tweeted on March 15, 2021: “We have successfully frozen their brand – ‘critical race theory’ - into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.”
A few minutes after that tweet, Rufo tweeted this, “The goal is to have the public read something negative in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”
This nonsense only works if we are fooled by hucksters more interested in dividing us than uniting us. At ND United, we believe that teachers should teach the truth, nothing more and nothing less. Like most Americans, I believe that America is exceptional. This country has time and again proven itself so. And I also believe that part of what makes this nation exceptional is our ability to learn from our past. Our objective of forming a more perfect union impels us to do so.
Know this: critical race theory is not present in ND’s public schools. Our outstanding professional educators teach to standards designed by North Dakota teachers for North Dakota students and approved by locally elected school boards. If anyone wants to know what is being taught in our public school classrooms, they need only to talk to their school board members, school administrators, or most importantly, our kids’ teachers.
In the end, this is not a “right versus left” issue. It is a “right versus wrong” issue. It is wrong to impugn the integrity of North Dakota’s teachers, administrators and school boards by saying that they are teaching kids to hate America.
Nick Archuleta is the president of North Dakota United, the union representing 11,500 public educators and employees across our state.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.