Schools in Republican-led states are skirting laws banning critical race theory (CRT) in public education, according to new investigative footage.
Released by Accuracy in Media (AIM), the videos show multiple school officials in Idaho discussing how the principles associated with the neo-Marxist ideology can be taught to students without officially being labeled as critical race theory, despite state law outlawing the teaching of ideas aligned with CRT by public educators.
While speaking with Mark Jones of the Boise School District, for instance, AIM President Adam Guillette asked whether educators could teach “tenets … associated with [CRT], but under the guise of equity or something else,” to which Jones affirmed and further explained that “part of [the district’s] strategic plan deals with equity.”
“And I bet the idiot MAGA crowd just ignores it because it doesn’t have the ‘critical race theory’ name on it, right?” Guilette continued.
“I hope so. I hope so,” Jones replied with a laugh.
In addition to finding administrators skirting existing CRT laws, AIM’s investigation also found that some schools are providing access to The New York Times’ historically inaccurate “1619 Project,” which attempts to falsify American history. While unknowingly speaking with AIM, Cindy Dion, a district instructional coach for the Nampa School District, admitted that although schools can’t teach material directly from the “1619 Project” itself, they can utilize concepts associated with it through an online educational database called Newsela.
“There are some really great free history resources out there,” Dion said. “There’s just a lot of pushback on [the ‘1619 Project’]. So we’ve had to say, right now we can’t.”
As detailed by Guillette, Newsela has become “another Trojan horse that gets used to advance critical race theory,” with the AIM president pointing to the company’s statements on anti-racism and promotion of Black Lives Matter content.
“At Newsela, we’re committed to advancing anti-racist practices in K-12 education,” a statement on its website reads.
Idaho is not the only red state where educators are attempting to go around existing anti-CRT laws, however. In Tennessee, several school administrators detailed to AIM how their districts are continuing to push their own agenda, despite Tennessee banning the teaching of CRT’s main tenets in public education last year.
“This law was really well crafted and accomplishes nothing,” said Todd Wigginton, the director of instruction for K-12 in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). “It does not keep us from teaching the history … that’s in the standards. So, basically, we’re doing what we’ve been doing.”
MNPS has since responded to the release of the video, saying it is a “disingenuous portrayal of an out of context clip of a longer conversation for a story based on a false premise.”
“Mr. Wigginton was explaining that we did not teach ‘prohibited concepts’ before or after the law, so it has not had an impact on MNPS,” the district said in a statement. “We are in compliance with the law and the rules adopted by the State Board of Education, and our educators teach the TN state standards using curricular materials approved by the State Board of Education.”
AIM’s investigation also included an interview with Kimberly Shurett, the director of early grades academic support on the Marion County Board of Education, who said in an apparent reference to CRT, that “[i]t’s not actively being taught but it’s not actively not being taught.”
“It is not in this district,” she later said in a separate clip. “We’re business as usual in this district. And we don’t … I love this. Like, we don’t really let anybody tell us what to do if we don’t believe in it.”
While speaking with The Federalist, Guillette said that in order to combat curricula workarounds by public schools, the “most important and the most meaningful action [parents and state legislators] could take would be to focus on advancing school choice.”
“Government schools are inherently broken in so many ways, and what we’ve seen in a multitude of states is an endless game of Whack a Mole,” he said. “If you banned critical race theory, they call it social and emotional learning. If you come after social and emotional learning, they call it mental health. If you ban the ‘1619 Project,’ they bring in content from an innocuous-sounding news service called Newsela. The only solution is to offer choice to parents and to advance school choice.”
Guillette noted that while he’s met with dozens of administrators who are “nice people” that mean well, “what they view as best for your child might be dramatically different from what you view as what’s best for your child.”
“That’s where things get terrifying,” he added.