If CRT is in Kennewick schools, where’s the proof? This GOP bogeyman isn’t real

·4 min read

There is no hard evidence that Critical Race Theory is being taught in the Kennewick School District, yet the bizarre fixation persists.

With last spring’s double-levy failure and looming budget cuts, you’d think finances would be the dominant topic at school board meetings. But no, it’s the concern about a non-existent CRT curriculum that seems to be taking up the most time.

That’s thanks to Kennewick School Board members Micah Valentine and Gabe Galbraith, who won their seats in the November election. Their persistence on the subject likely has a lot to do with pledges they made during their campaigns.

Even so, when pressed they couldn’t provide specific examples that CRT is actually being taught in the classroom — only vague allegations that don’t prove anything.

In the end, Kennewick School Board members have tabled a policy on CRT that could be voted on in August. The proposal is based on a list of history-related subjects they want — and do not want — taught in classes.

If approving this policy puts an end to this maddening distraction, then so be it.

Since CRT is not part of the KSD curriculum, banning it won’t make a difference to teachers and staff.

And if “taking a stand” against CRT helps sway more citizens to approve the next levy request — as some have suggested — maybe adopting an anti-CRT policy will be worth it.

Though judging by our letters to the editor and social media posts, we’d guess most people opposed to the levy were concerned about taxes more than anything else.

Still, the point is that too much time and effort in Kennewick has been spent on a CRT “problem” that doesn’t appear to be a problem at all.

At the June 8 school board retreat, Galbraith said some teachers had signed on to the Zinn Education Project pledge, and he shared a social media post that suggested a teacher was teaching CRT.

Galbraith also said a few teachers belonging to a book club at Kennewick High School were discussing progressive books — such as “How To Be An Antiracist” by Ibram Kendi — during their lunch breaks. While he didn’t provide names, Galbraith said the teachers were discussing how to be “better educators for our Black, Indigenous and students of color.”

So what does this mean? Teachers are being monitored during their personal time and stalked on social media?

That’s unnerving — and also creepy.

Here’s a thought: If you have to look this hard for signs that CRT is being taught in school, chances are it isn’t.

Veteran Kennewick School Board member Ron Mabry was spot-on when he pushed Galbraith for specifics.

He asked him if he knew “for a fact” that the concepts were being taught in the classroom. “I want to know did it occur. I can say I’m going to go jaywalk, but if I don’t jaywalk, I haven’t broken the law,” he said.

And Superintendent Traci Pierce asked, “Are we saying we’re going to tell teachers what they can and can’t read, or is this about what teachers can and can’t teach in their classroom?”

Excellent questions.

This effort to prove CRT principles are being taught to Kennewick students is absurd.

The Kennewick School Board at their June 8 meeting drafted this list of history-related subjects they want and do not want to be taught in classes. The board plans to draft this list into a resolution to be adopted as part of a stance they say they plan to take on critical race theory.
The Kennewick School Board at their June 8 meeting drafted this list of history-related subjects they want and do not want to be taught in classes. The board plans to draft this list into a resolution to be adopted as part of a stance they say they plan to take on critical race theory.

Critical Race Theory is a concept that came from 1970s academia and is taught at the collegiate and graduate levels — not at K-12. Essentially, it focuses on how laws and institutions have, over decades, created different outcomes for different populations. The idea is that racism is not just the result of a person’s bias or prejudice, but also is embedded in legal systems and policies where laws and court rulings can perpetuate it.

But it has become a Republican talking point, with concern that it stokes division and teaches children to be ashamed of their race.

If that is really happening in the Kennewick School District, then where is the parent outrage?

Surely, someone would have noticed if a teacher was going off the rails.

If Galbraith and Valentine have any more nefarious claims, they must back them up with precise details.

For now, they’ve had their say and an anti-CRT proposal is now on the table. Once a vote is taken — whether it’s approved or not — let that be the end of this time-wasting discussion.