Front Page Article
CRT In Schools
By Joyce Geiler
Are classes being taught through the lens of Critical Race Theory (CRT) or are teachers being informed by CRT? It is the viewpoint of the black civil rights leader Bob Woodson that CRT is “explicitly and implicitly a racist approach to education,” and that approach is increasingly infiltrating our schools. One could say technically CRT is not being taught in the classroom because it is not distributed in the form of a textbook; but nonetheless, volumes have been written on critical race theory and its influence and its tenants are in our schools. (1)
Parents for America has an excellent article on how to understand CRT’s influence and tenants in schools. (2) A Cornell Law School professor has launched a new website about critical race theory curriculum in the US that features a state-by-state list of more than 200 colleges and universities promoting critical race theory. (3) On that website, one can click on any state and find schools and information about critical race theory in that state. (4)
(The reader may remember that article earlier this year reported on the approval of the Illinois State Board of Education Standards to infuse the assumptions of Critical Race Theory/ identity politics/BLM into: 1. all teacher-training programs; 2. all Professional Education Licensing (PEL); and 3. indirectly into all public-school classrooms. More information on this topic can also be found at this IFI link (5) https://illinoisfamily.org/education/despite-nationwide-condemnation-illinois-passes-controversial-leftist-teacher-training-mandate/)
As of this writing, it is known that the following two major Illinois school settings ARE overtly teaching Critical Race Theory precepts:
1. The Center for Mathematics, Science, & Technology at Illinois State University has issued a statement standing in solidarity with those protesting racism and injustice now and at all times. The Center states it is committed to providing equitable, anti-racist STEM education that allows all students to fulfill their potential in STEM disciplines. (6)
2. An Illinois high school, the Illinois Science and Mathematics Academy, a top rated, public, magnet school in Aurora that proposes to develop creative, ethical leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is offering a course titled “Introduction to Critical Race Theory in Education Research.” Laurie Higgins, writer for Illinois Family Institute, published an article about it on December 6. “The three-day session will cover an introduction to Critical Race Theory concepts, the utilization of CRT in the field of education, and research applications of CRT in K12 classrooms and districts. The final session will be students working in groups to design research questions and choose research methods using CRT as a theoretical framework.” (7) We’re talking about high school students here, not teachers.
There is also a financial side of this issue in Illinois schools. Collectively, Illinois school districts are $7.37 billion short of adequate funding. The legislature and governor verbally committed to increasing K-12 education funding by $350 million each year over 10 years. (8) Decisions are forthcoming to spend part of the proposed $350 million allotted for K-12 education on Critical Race material. Four years ago, Illinois overhauled the way it funds K-12 education. The state used to have the most unfair education funding in the nation, according to a 2015 study from The Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that advocates for students. It found low-income schools received significantly less aid than they would in other states. Additionally, after the state decided the amount of funds various districts needed, only a percentage of that was actually sent to the districts because the state has been money strapped.
In 2017, Illinois adopted a new Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) formula for providing new state funding for schools. The new EBF formula estimates what it actually costs to provide a quality education to students in each of Illinois’ 853 school districts (called the adequacy target) as well as the local tax resources available to the district to meet that funding level (their local capacity). State funds are then distributed with more money being directed to the school districts with the largest gap between their local capacity and their adequacy target.
The Evidence-Based Funding formula looks at dozens of factors like the number of English language learners and special education teachers to come up with an “adequacy target” of how much the state believes a school should spend. Many districts don’t have enough tax revenue coming in for schools. Those schools and schools furthest from their target are prioritized to receive the most state funding. Improvements have been made; thus providing low-income, Black, and English-learning students still see the largest funding gaps. (9)
As part of the new funding law, a Professional Review Panel was created to oversee implementation. The Evidence-Based Funding Professional Review Panel is a group of practitioners, experts, legislative leaders, and advocates tasked with reviewing the funding reform implementation, as mandated by the 2017 law. At their next meeting on December 13, 2021, members will consider proposals for spending that $350 million. Member information is included here to gain understanding of the decision-making dynamics. The twenty-one current Panel members (10) include Dr. Carmen Ayala, State Superintendent of Education; Rep. Avery Bourne; Rep. Willian Davis; Sen. Kimberly Lightford; Ralph Martire, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability; Cameron Mock, Office of the Governor; Jane Russell, Illinois Federation of Teachers; Robin Steans, Advance Illinois, a charitable organization dedicated to “confronting the severe inequities in our entire education continuum;” (11) Jessica Handy, Stand for Children Illinois, a nonprofit education advocacy group particularly for children of color; (12) and twelve board members who are superintendents and representatives from various school districts; (only one from Southern Illinois). Information was not found regarding voting and non-voting members but apparently Representatives Davis and Bourne are non-voting members of the review panel.
This panel will meet December 13 with suggestions on how to spend $350 million of new funding for K-12 schools in the coming fiscal year. Some have expressed concern that proposals could alter the bipartisan funding formula. In fact, a scheduled December 3 meeting was rescheduled for December 13 to allow more time for the group to solidify findings. Funding proposals for implicit bias and antiracism training in schools are coming into focus with the Illinois State Board of Education. The Panel recommendations include things like teaching a foreign language, but there are also suggestions for interventions to have a focus on racial dynamics, equity and increased bias awareness for teachers. (Read that “Critical Race Theory.”)
State Rep. Will Davis, D-Hazel Crest, defended the proposals. “It’s about looking at equity, looking at inclusion, looking at how we’re serving kids of color, providing additional opportunities particularly for kids in those under-resourced schools.” The draft proposals “recognize that students of color do not inherently need additional supports by nature of their race/ethnicity, but that these students do face inequities because of historical and existing structures, and there is a cost attendant with working to dismantle those inequities through training on antiracism and eliminating implicit bias within schools and districts.” To address that, the proposal adds “a specific Professional Development cost … related to implicit bias and antiracism at a fixed per-pupil cost based on overall enrollment, with additional per-pupil dollar amount for all students where a district serves over 50% non-white students.” (13)
State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, warned such changes could divert money to Chicago-area schools, going against the evidence-based funding model approved several years ago. “The school funding formula was a bipartisan win and further politicizing that is, I think, a disservice to kids,” Bourne said in an interview. “We need to look at what helps schools statewide, every school’s individual needs, and I’m not interested in individual carve-outs or special deals that are done under the guise of being politically correct.” Bourne also said the focus should be more on educating children. (14)
In conclusion, critical race theory in indeed beginning to be overtly taught in Illinois schools as well as being covertly taught through teacher indoctrination and school funding.
(7) IFI News email@example.com via votervoice.net December 6, 2021
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