The right-wing campaign to suppress what children are taught about racism and limit efforts to promote diversity in our public schools was, of course, a topic of discussion last weekend at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s (CPAC) gathering in Dallas, an event where truth was an optional agenda item.
Seeking to fan the flames of fear and ignorance among some parents, Carroll ISD board member Hannah Smith addressed a CPAC session about the Texas campaign to whitewash history, which already has produced one law restricting teachers and also is on Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda.
Smith, whose opposition to a diversity effort in Carroll ISD propelled her successful campaign for the school board, told her audience to “imagine the trauma that we’re inflicting on our school-age kids when we teach them that just because you’re born white means that you are inherently a racist.”
That is not what Texas teachers are teaching their students. Texas teachers are teaching their students that racism was a part of Texas and American history and is an issue that continues to plague our society today. The victims of racism were and are the trauma victims, not the white children who may be learning about racism and what it really means for the first time in school.
Children need to know about all of our history, the dark side as well as the positive. That is what public education is supposed to be about. By knowing the truth about racism, maybe the next generation will do a better job addressing it than previous generations have.
Carroll ISD is in Southlake, a suburban city in Tarrant County. Sixty-three percent of the district’s students are white, well above the 27 percent of white students in public schools statewide. Only 9.8 percent of Carroll’s students are Hispanic and 2 percent Black, although Hispanic and Black students combined comprise a majority of statewide public school enrollment.
But the demographics are changing in Carroll, and some students have complained of being bullied because of their race, religion or sexual orientation. With the help of students, parents and other members of the community, the district had begun putting together a plan to address the growing diversity.
According to The Dallas Morning News, it called for the district to hire a director of equity and inclusion, require cultural competency training and establish a grievance system through which students could report discrimination. The plan, which opponents called a “left-wing agenda,” was the overwhelming issue in last spring’s school board elections and was put on indefinite hold after Smith and a second new member were elected.
Smith and her supporters scored a political victory for ignorance and denial, and Carroll ISD students were the losers.