We have to be aware of this and we have to quite honestly stop it if you believe in equal rights, as articulated by martin luther king i’m in. But if you think, martin luther king meant that uh we have to crush white people that that was malcolm x, malcolm x, was teaching at least at the beginning. He was teaching hatred and division that’s, not american. We are all created, equal and all given rights and we have to fight for those equal rights, but this is a perversion of those now laurie myers. She is a co founder and for educators for excellence in ethnic studies, she’s, a california educator. I think a first grade, uh teacher um and she wants to talk about the ethnic studies model curriculum uh. That is awaiting passage now, uh in uh, california, welcome lori. How are you i’m great thanks for having me on the show glenn. I really appreciate your taking the time to talk about this super important issue that we’re facing in california right now, and i totally agree with you: it is going nationwide. I am so concerned this changes the future for generations if we don’t, if we start teaching this poison we’re done as a people, i don’t, even not even as a america but as a people, we start to look at everything differently. I completely agree with you and as teachers we consider ourselves to be pretty much on the front lines of this, but the real people on the front lines of this are our students and that’s.
Why our group was formed. We are a grassroots group of hundreds of educators from across the country who want to make sure that we have ethnic studies, curricula that achieve really important goals confronting racism, developing civic responsibility, building the 21st century skills that our students need like critical thinking, communication creativity, but That don’t devolve into critical race theory, which not only won’t, accomplish those goals, but will do quite the opposite. Exactly i mean i laurie, i i don’t know how you feel about any of this, and so you don’t have to comment on it, but i have to tell you in looking at critical race theory and i’ve tried to swear off this word in looking at what It teaches and how it teaches the only word i can come up with to describe it is evil. It is intentionally destroying people their communication with each other, it’s dividing everybody it. It makes you feel horrible about yourself. I mean it’s so defeating so what i really appreciate about what you just said is that critical race theory in the classroom and in particular our group right now – is focused on the ethnic studies model curriculum. But there are a couple of other different uh front lines on critical race theory in california um, but that we’re not just concerned about what critical race theory teaches that’s the framework we’re concerned about how it teaches and that’s the pedagogy and both are concerning um. But in some ways the pedagogy piece of it how educators bring them into their classrooms, laurie let’s just pretend we don’t know what pedagogy means.
I’Ve been told that many times i’m sorry i’m down in the weeds that’s all right pedagogy is – is how teachers teach, for example, if i’m teaching math um, i might be teaching content which would be addition, subtraction multiplication division, but the methodology i’m using to teach it The pedagogy would be singapore, math or um um university of chicago okay. So absolutely so, there is a i’m trying to find it in one of the things uh where the pedagogy uh would be to uh and it didn’t say inflict trauma, but uh make students feel vulnerable. Sad, helpless, uh and teachers need to be familiar with trauma, informed practices. That sounds like a bad pedagogy. Am i using that correctly, and can you explain what this is right, so so that’s actually um? What one of the reasons that we are so deeply concerned about critical race theory is a pedagogy um it’s put out in the classroom in a number of different ways and i’m happy to share examples. But the end result um is that we’re concerned about how it will cause trauma and as teachers parents are trusting us every day when they can’t send their children to school to keep their children safe and secure. In fact, i i’ve looked up the code of ethical conduct for a number of school districts which, at student, safety and welfare, is teachers highest priority, and every teacher knows that unless we have that foundation in the classroom, learning just isn’t going to happen.
Yet the ethnic studies model curriculum itself acknowledges that topics like oppression which, by the way is mentioned in the model curriculum over 200 times. Words like a press, oppression, oppressed can make students feel, and i quoting vulnerable, sad guilty and helpless, and then the model curriculum itself states that teachers need to be attentive. To quote trauma, informed education, practices and i’ve said this before and i’ll say it again. A school curriculum should not need a trauma warning okay, so but wait there, but isn’t that saying trauma informed practices, uh doesn’t that mean that you kind of want to inflict a little trauma because that helps inform and it helps shape them. So that that’s a really interesting point, um and as educators, we agree that there are going to be difficult topics that are taught in school correct as long as they are grade level appropriate, for example, students, learning about the killing field, students, learning about rwanda, students learning About the holocaust, those are going to be difficult topics, but a well trained good teacher teaching them with a well developed curriculum, we’ll, be able to teach them and maybe cause students to feel some deep emotions, but not trauma. And the other important difference is that, with the critical race theory pedagogy, these traumas are caused because students are made to internalize feelings around impression. It’S not just the content that they’re learning it’s the pedagogy that’s having them internalize these feelings and feel personal responsibility either for inflicting oppression on somebody else or feeling like students in your class, are responsible for inflicting impression on you and it goes and that’s where the Pedagogy piece is important.
I’M. Sorry, no, no! No, and it goes the other way as well there in berkeley in the unified school district there there was a lawsuit. Are you aware of this, and can you tell the story so um i’m not aware of a lawsuit in berkeley, but i am aware of – and i actually spoke with, the former school board member, whose student was in this class when this happened um various. So the student school board member told me that in their ethnic studies class, which at that point was a high school graduation requirement quote, various groups were denounced. Boys caucasians privileged students, high achieving ap students of all races of all races were made to feel bad and another quote. White kids were made to feel bad and the problems were so rampant in the district that the district was forced to drop ethnic studies as a graduation rate. What were the, what were the problems that this was causing uh? The problems were that students were starting to denounce each other and target each other and that’s one of our concerns with critical race theory in the classroom. So, first, what critical race theory does is it has students identify as part of a group based only on race based only on skin color and then assigns a judgment to them based on that racial identity? The second piece is, then: it asserts that one group is the oppressor over the other, and that sets up an oppositional relationship between the groups.
It literally pits students against each other and that’s, where i come back to the goals of ethnic studies and how this approach a critical race theory pedagogy, is not going to help bridge the cultural divide. It’S not going to build cultural understanding, it’s not going to have students, develop respect for inclusion, and these are all the goals of the original bill that mandated ethnic, the development of the ethnic studies, model, curriculum and that’s. Why i keep coming back to we all. I hope we all share these important goals, but critical race theory. Pedagogy is not the right way to get there. I don’t know if we still agree on the same goals. There are people that are taking. I mean i know that martin luther king has been put back in on the third draft, but if your instinct is to uh talk nice about pol pot and delete martin luther king, i don’t think you get it. I mean martin luther king articulated what american he didn’t tear down america. He said america live up to your own founding words. He challenged us to be better and he challenged us to all live in a world where race, doesn’t matter i’m, not sure that everybody agrees with that anymore. Well, i i agree with what you just said, but what you just said is absolutely consistent with the bill that mandated the development of the ethnic studies model curriculum. It says that one of the goals is for students to promote collect self and collective empowerment to promote critical thinking to develop a more complex understanding of the human experience from the california social studies framework it’s.
The standards that we all need to track to ethnic studies should help students develop respect for cultural diversity and see the advantages of inclusion. Those are all consistent with martin luther king. My concern is that the model curriculum in its current incarnation and, in fact, its incarnation since its genesis back in 2016, has been based on a critical race theory foundation. That is inconsistent with the original goals approved by the state. If we had a curriculum that tracked to those original goals that tracked the california standards approved by the state board of education, then we wouldn’t be having that problem. So i do think that you and i agree on the goals and the state of california agrees on the goals.