Letters to the Editor: Critical race theory's loudmouth critics are making teachers' jobs impossible

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Yorba Linda, CA, Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - The Placentia Yorba Linda School Board discusses a proposed resolution to ban teaching critical race theory in schools. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
A sign opposing critical race theory at a Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District board meeting on Nov. 16. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The conflict over critical race theory appears to be a modern-day version of the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, in which a high school teacher, John Thomas Scopes, was prosecuted in Tennessee for teaching evolution. Just recently in Texas, a school leader told teachers to balance books on the Holocaust with "opposing" perspectives. Also in Texas, some schools are banning books seen as favorable to critical race theory. ("Wrenching struggle to define critical race theory divides an Orange County school district," Nov. 24)

When I was teaching, there was a department of curriculum and instruction where teachers and administrators decided on the subjects to teach and the materials and methods to use. Parents could be involved through school board meetings. Changing the curriculum took time and much discussion based on research.

Parents who are demanding that critical race theory be banned are circumventing processes that are already in place. The fact that few of them seem to know what critical race theory is about makes their demands even more appalling.

Teaching is an impossible task being made even more difficult by the politicization of instruction on race in a multicultural nation. At a time when we need more educators, threatening the ones we have with dismissal if they teach the truth about our history portends a tenuous future for public education.

Nelson Sagisi, Santa Maria

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To the editor: The events related to the presence of Black people in our country are truths integral to U.S. history. The fact that many of these events reflect badly on white citizens is a truth that has been avoided, sidestepped and denied.

History books used in all U.S. schools need to be revised to reflect the truths about the horrible treatment of Black people from the very beginning up to the present, as many Black citizens continue to fear for their lives and well-being.

The guilty verdicts in the trial of the three white men who murdered Ahmaud Abery is a step in the right direction — a step in a very long and complex journey to racial justice.

Betsy Gallery, Santa Barbara

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To the editor: I received my graduate degree from Howard University in 1966. In 1985, I obtained a paralegal certificate from UCLA.

In 1970, I was hired as a social worker. In 1989, I applied for a job at a law firm as a paralegal but was not given an interview for the position. What's the connection?

At some point after being hired as a social worker, my supervisor told me one of the reasons I had gotten an interview was because a Black employee had left and they wanted to hire someone Black, if possible. Years later, when I talked to a woman who worked at the firm I applied to, she admitted I hadn't been granted an interview because one of the attorneys noted my degree from Howard University — a historically Black university — and made a comment about not wanting to hire "one of those."

Critical race theory is often described as the study of systemic racism in the legal system. By way of background, I'm of mixed western European heritage, white with auburn hair and hazel eyes.

John Snyder, Newbury Park

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To the editor: Growing up in Manhattan Beach and raising my family in Placentia and Yorba Linda, I often had people ask me, "Where are you from?"

It never bothered me. My mom is from India and my dad is Spanish. They met in Africa. The term "multicultural" is an accurate description of my background.

One year at summer camp, the counselor gave us all nicknames. Mine was "Oreo." I didn't understand it at the time; eventually, I realized that some people assumed I was half Black. Others, after telling them I was half Spanish, referred to me as Mexican.

Neither is offensive, but it does highlight the need to learn about different cultures along with a healthy dose of geography.

Celeste Demetor, Anaheim

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To the editor: Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District board trustee Marilyn Anderson says the proposed critical race theory curriculum should "spell out the specific theories that we do not want taught in our district — like that the United States is fundamentally or systemically racist."

She might as well try to repeal the law of gravity.

Racism is an integral — and disgraceful — aspect of our culture. Thanks to legally sanctioned slavery, it will never go away. It put Donald Trump in the White House and has given Republicans a failsafe hot button to glorify their sanctimonious politics.

Racism is as American as Mom's apple pie.

Spencer Grant, Laguna Niguel

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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