Despite officials at Riverside Unified School District claiming critical race theory is not taught in the California district, public records, as well as a cursory glance at the district’s website, proves such claims are blatant lies.
According to records of the minutes taken at two local school board meetings, one of which was held on July 15, 2021 and another on August 5, 2021, multiple public employees at Riverside Unified School District claimed that critical race theory was not taught in the school district. Superintendent Renee Hill is one such public employee.
The records note that during the meeting on July 15, Hill addressed various topics “that seemed to be on the minds of some RUSD stakeholders. First, she said, RUSD does not teach Critical Race Theory.” The divisive theory was discussed again during the August 5 meeting, when community members spoke on CRT during the public comments section of the meeting. It was directly after these public comments that Board of Education member Tom Hunt also lied about the presence of CRT in the district.
The minutes records noted that Hunt “addressed the fact that there are rurmors floating around that RUSD is teaching critical race theory, but they are not. A company was hired to work with RUSD staff in order to enhance ethnic relations, and this has created a misconception, because the design for Ethnic Studies is not critical race theory. Hunt said there is fake news happening across the nation, including Riverside.”
The Local Control and Accountability Plan revealed the district spent a whopping $942,103 on programs for cultural proficiency training, culturally responsive teaching, and other programs that frequently feature the themes of CRT.
One hired to deliver such trainings was Epoch Education, which, according to the district’s LCAP, was commissioned to train as many as 400 administrators in “cultural proficiency.” On August 15, 2020, Assistant Superintendent Jacqueline Perez gave a presentation to the board that outlined the district’s partnership with Epoch Education, as well as their strategic plan to advance CRT.
The presentation, which can be downloaded and accessed through the meeting’s records, left no room for doubt regarding the presence of CRT in the district. One slide, labeled “Superintendent Call To Action,” demands that the board “reflect on your own mindset on race and privilege.” It also says that an “equity champion” “Explore[s] Whiteness [sic] as Property through Critical Race Theory.”
It’s also evident that these themes are intended to affect the instruction of students. For one thing, the presentation quickly transitions to a conversation on the new ethnic studies curriculum the district will be teaching. The presentation also features an “Equity, Access, and Community Engagement Division” graphic that includes “District Student Equity Leaders,” further evidence that the student body is directly involved in equity initiatives that are explicitly rooted in CRT.
Riverside’s Materials Reveal The Presence Of CRT
While public records offer ample proof that CRT is being taught at Riverside Unified School District, even a cursory glance at their website’s Equity, Access, and Community Engagement Resources page disproves the claims of Hill and Hunt. The resources page links to an academic article called “The Integration of Response to Intervention and Critical Race Theory–Disability Studies: A Robust Approach to Reducing Racial Discrimination in Evaluation Decisions.”
Particularly striking was a link to a pdf entitled “Transforming Our Public Schools: A Guide to Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education,” which preached the need for “culturally responsive education.”
The guide discusses what culturally responsive education would tangibly look like and encourages teachers and administration to “receive anti-bias trainings on race, power, and privilege.” The guide’s glossary includes CRT buzzwords like “oppression,” “decolonize,” “intersectional,” “privilege,” and “liberation.”
The document was created by the NYC Culturally Responsive Education Working Group and the Education Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative (EJ-ROC) at the NYU Metro Center. Their website prominently features a CRT toolkit that explains how leftwing school administrations and teachers can defend CRT against the right, whom they claim are “amping up their racist strategies.” The document also uses the term “culturally responsive sustaining education” virtually interchangeably with CRT and even cites the aforementioned “Transforming our Public Schools” guide.
A reading guide for Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” is linked by the district as a resource under “professional development.” It presents a list of discussion questions for each chapter, such as “what are some examples of white feminism?” It also doubles down on DiAngelo’s assertion that “it isn’t enough for white people to be nice and that, in fact, racism depends on white people simply being nice.”
A document called “Justice in June” showcased a calendar, with each day featuring an article, video, podcast, or an action item for those who want to be an “active ally.” One such action item reads “Help reallocate city budgets by defunding the police.” Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility,” as well as Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist,” both prominent texts in the critical race theory movement, are also promoted by the document.
Key Equity Terms and Concepts were also promoted on the district’s website. The glossary perpetuates the lie that white people can’t be victims of racism, arguing in the definition of the term that “Racism differs from prejudice, hatred, or discrimination because it requires one racial group to have systematic power and superiority over other groups in society.” It also contends that racism exclusively targeted those who are “racialized as non-white, as means to uphold white supremacy.”
Public Schools Are Lying About Teaching Racism
The blatant lies from Hill and Hunt are in no way unique. Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers union, denied the divisive theory was taught in public schools after she bragged about teaching it.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in America, also claimed that CRT is not taught in K-12 schools despite hosting a critical race theorist to conduct a training for staff members and even hosting the director of UCLA’s Center for Critical Race Studies to give input while they crafted their ethnic studies curriculum.
The persistent presence of CRT in public schools coupled with the dishonesty that surrounds it may drive some parents to support measures that would grant them more authority over their children’s education, such as a recently announced school choice initiative in California.
Neither Hill nor Hunt responded to requests for comment.