Harold A Black
Critical race theory (CRT) is being used in many public school systems as an excuse to deflect from their inability to teach our children how to read, how to spell and how to do math. We have a system – the Education Industrial Complex – in which only the teachers care about teaching the children and they are handicaped by having to rely on methods that are a proven failure. The textbook authors, publishers, colleges of education, teachers’ unions, accreditation boards and sadly our local school administrators and PTAs don’t care about teaching students. If they did, they would not accept the dismal reading and math proficiency scores in our schools. It is embarrassing. Instead of correcting the problem – and there are well established methods that can do so – many school systems have trotted out CRT as an excuse. CRT asserts that systemic racism in the public schools is the reason for the poor academic performance of black children. Even if that were true, then what excuse is given for the poor academic performance of white children? As a friend of mine who teaches physics in a major southern city has said “What do I tell my white students who are struggling?”
That racism once existed in public education is undeniable. Black schools in the segregated south were woefully underfunded. In K-12 I never had a text that did not have some white school’s name in it. Local school boards were generally all white as were virtually all of the school system administrators. It could be inferred that any difference between black and white student achievement could be the result of systemic racism stemming from the inequality of facilities and equipment. However, the overt systemic racism of the past is gone. Is the racism of the past so deeply embedded in our schools that the differentials in achievement persist even though many urban school systems have significant numbers of black teachers and black administrators?
The basic reason that most kids – regardless of race – struggle in school is highly correlated to economic status. Poor children often find themselves in classrooms where they do not speak the same language as the teachers and other students. In essence, they have to learn English as a foreign language while at the same time trying to master the schoolwork. It is a daunting task for most and many simply fail to catch up. In grades 1-3, students learn to read and thereafter, read to learn. Some years ago I approached the then Knoxville school superintendent with a proven program that catches up students who have reading deficiencies and asked to implement it in our worse performing schools. He rejected it because the accreditation board would not approve it because it contained too much reading! I kid you not.
The Education Consumer Group (https://education-consumers.org) has produced charts showing that in certain schools, poor children perform as well or better than in schools where there are few disadvantaged students. These may be charter schools or schools that have rejected the standard teaching method employed in most public schools.
The reading scores for American students are abysmal. Nationally less than 34% of fourth graders read at grade level. Less than half of Tennessee’s third graders read proficiently. In Boston, fewer than 25% of black children are proficient readers, yet I bet you they are proficient in CRT, gender identity and climate change. The poor reading results results cannot be explained by claiming systemic racism nor can they be corrected by teaching Critical Race Theory. I defy its proponents to show me one study that demonstrates that reading proficiency is improved in those schools where CRT is taught. That evidence does not exist. Systemic racism cannot explain racial disparities in student proficiency. Those disparities have more to do with economics than with race. Systemic racism is being used by our public school “educators” as an excuse to mask their failure to teach our children.
Importantly, parents can take matters into their own hands and catch up their kids themselves. A proven method, Funnix, is available online. I know it works because I along with several retirees used it to teach second graders to read in an after school program at one of the lowest performing Knoxville schools. It is highly recommended (https://education-consumers.org/computer-based-instruction-produces-catch-growth/). Lastly, if any school system institutes instruction in CRT, I encourage all parents, regardless of the achievement level of their children, to organize to replace the entire school apparatus, except the teachers. Fire the entire school administration, vote out the PTAs and the Board of “Education”. They do not have the children’s interests at heart and need to be replaced.