Alabama board bans critical race theory in classrooms

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The Alabama State Board of Education on Thursday voted to ban so-called critical race theory teachings from K-12 classroom and limit how educators can talk about race in the classroom.

Board members approved a resolution titled, “Preservation of Intellectual Freedom and Non-Discrimination in Alabama Public Schools,” news outlets reported. It bans “concepts that impute fault, blame, a tendency to oppress others, or the need to feel guilt or anguish to persons solely because of their race or sex.”

The vote was split along racial and party lines with white Republicans voting to approve it, and the two Black Democrats on the board, Tonya Chestnut and Yvette Richardson, voting against it.

Parkside Middle School on November 1, 2018 in Baileyton, Alabama. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images for Warner Bros.)

Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism, but it is not typically taught in public schools. State Superintendent Eric Mackey said the resolution would have no impact on courses of study, but opponents said they feared it would limit honest discussions.

“The concern is relevant to whether or not African American history will be compromised based on what is written in this resolution,” Chestnut said.

The Alabama action comes after some GOP-controlled states have already passed such bans this year as a national debate intensifies about how race should be used as a lens in classrooms to examine the country’s tumultuous history.

Terri Michal, a board member for the Birmingham school system, said the resolution looks like it was “written and is being proposed by white people that have never been in a room where they are the only white person.”

“We have to quit censoring everything based off our experience as a white person because the truth is, Black families don’t have that luxury,” she continued. “They have to have real conversations with their children about not going out in public with a squirt gun or Nerf gun. They have to have conversations about how to handle interactions with the police.”

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The board members voting for the resolution did not comment on the resolution before taking action. The board had discussed the matter for several weeks in work sessions.

“Do you think that it’s right to judge people by the color of their skin? That’s what critical race theory does. It’s going to create — it already has, it creates resentment and division,” said Vincent Miller, an Alabama resident said during public comment.

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