Antiracist Teaching Under Fire in Public Schools: A Case Study
This paper will examine the case of a high school humanities teacher and his social justice curriculum through the lens of critical race theory (CRT). This framework provides a suitable platform for exploring the benefits and pitfalls of antiracist, social justice teaching, exposing a central tension between such teaching and color-blind ideology. In this case, a white student and her parents have effectively disrupted the teaching of a mandatory humanities course called Citizenship and Social Justice at a public high school, prompting the school district to amend the curriculum and transfer its teacher to another school as a disciplinary measure. This critical exploration seeks out specific points of dissonance among belief systems involved in the case, highlighting a disconnect between one of the district’s stated strategic goals—to increase culturally responsive teaching in order to close achievement gaps by creating equitable educational opportunity for all students—and its actions with regard to the conflict between the teacher and the complaining family. The paper begins with a summary of the case and an overview of the pertinence of race and color-blind ideology, as well as an overview of critical race theory as it pertains to the case. This opening section is followed by a more detailed narrative and analysis according to the conceptual framework of CRT. The paper concludes with recommendations for teachers using antiracist methods and curricula in schools.
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