Local Opinion: Critical Race Theory and Family Life Curriculum in Public Education | Local Editorials and Opinion

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer: I recently found myself at a memorial seated next to a cousin I had not seen in years. “So, do you teach that stuff?” was his greeting from her. “Whatstuff?” I replied, feigning ignorance, curious to see if he could conjure the six syllables he was driving at: He couldn’t. “That stuff they say you guys are teaching.” “You mean Critical Race Theory?” I said, “No. I don’t.” If he had followed up with his question from him, I could have explained to him that Critical Race Theory is not part of the elementary school curriculum. It is a college-level course, often taught in law school, and defined by EdWeek as: “an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.” Reread that; it is heady stuff and no, we don’t shove these notions down the throats of young children. But do not take my word for it, take the time to explore the social studies standards taught in Arizona. There is no need to create laws permitting parents to have access to what their children are being taught: the link to do so already exists: azed.gov. (Note the complete absence of CRT and/or any teaching points regarding shaming any particular race for history’s social woes.) K-3 teachers also currently find themselves under fire for “indoctrinating” children with another boogeyman … the dreaded “Sex Ed ,” a villainous program where we allegedly take it upon ourselves to “educate these young children in the LGBTQ area,” as a recent letter writer to the Star bemoaned. (He also “imagined” that if tested, less than 10% are up to satisfactory (academic) levels — both points made in his letter are imaginary). No, teachers don’t spend our time in the classroom with 5–8 year olds teaching LGBTQ lessons. We’re quite busy teaching young minds social skills, reading, spelling, math, science, art, cursive, music, computer skills, science, PE, and most formidably, how to create a well-organized writing sample. For good measure, by third grade they need to be able to plan, write, revise and type their essay for timed assessments. Although the nationwide kerfuffle at present centers primarily around K–3, I’ll up the ante to the Arizona fifth grade curriculum. I just completed the nine lessons in the Family Life Curriculum with my students last week. The first lessons are about family dynamics: chores, responsibilities, communication with family, decision-making, personal safety and responsibility. Then come lessons about bullying and cyberbullying, and one about abuse and how students can protect themselves from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. One lesson covers the basics of puberty. The final lessons address common mental/emotional/social changes and feelings students may encounter as they grow up. The perceived doozy is the reproductive system lesson, which, in fact, is a straightforward anatomy lesson that takes us as far as functions of sperm and the egg… and the fifth grade level Family Life Curriculum comes to close. No discussion about how the stars of that last sentence meet. See for yourself: search TUSD Family Life Curriculum. However, if you are looking to be offended or scandalized, prepare to be underwhelmed. So, to those inclined to taking a negative or appalled viewpoint regarding how educators are “brainwashing” students: if your opinions are based solely on the news sources you and like-minded people in your social circle choose to absorb, and as a result of such misinformation you’ve joined the ranks who demonize teachers: Before you support the storming of school board meetings and school offices with lit torches and pitchforks, I strongly suggest you go directly to the source and speak to a teacher. You just might learn something.

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The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

I recently found myself at a memorial seated next to a cousin I had not seen in years. “So, do you teach that stuff?” was his greeting from her. “Whatstuff?” I replied, feigning ignorance, curious to see if he could conjure the six syllables he was driving at: He couldn’t. “That stuff they say you guys are teaching.”

“You mean Critical Race Theory?” I said, “No. I don’t.”

If he had followed up with his question, I could have explained to him that Critical Race Theory is not part of the elementary school curriculum. It is a college-level course, often taught in law school, and defined by EdWeek as: “an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”

Reread that; it is heady stuff and no, we don’t shove these notions down the throats of young children. But do not take my word for it, take the time to explore the social studies standards taught in Arizona. There is no need to create laws permitting parents to have access to what their children are being taught: the link to do so already exists: azed.gov. (Note the complete absence of CRT and/or any teaching points regarding shaming any particular race for history’s social woes.)

K-3 teachers also currently find themselves under fire for “indoctrinating” children with another boogeyman … the dreaded “Sex Ed,” a villainous program where we allegedly take it upon ourselves to “educate these young children in the LGBTQ area,” as a recent letter writer to the Star bemoaned. (He also “imagined” that if tested, less than 10% are up to satisfactory (academic) levels — both points made in his letter are imaginary).

No, teachers don’t spend our time in the classroom with 5–8 year olds teaching LGBTQ lessons. We’re quite busy teaching young minds social skills, reading, spelling, math, science, art, cursive, music, computer skills, science, PE, and most formidably, how to create a well-organized writing sample. For good measure, by third grade they need to be able to plan, write, revise and type their essay for timed assessments.

Although the nationwide kerfuffle at present centers primarily around K–3, I’ll up the ante to the Arizona fifth grade curriculum. I just completed the nine lessons in the Family Life Curriculum with my students last week. The first lessons are about family dynamics: chores, responsibilities, communication with family, decision-making, personal safety and responsibility.

Then come lessons about bullying and cyberbullying, and one about abuse and how students can protect themselves from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. One lesson covers the basics of puberty. The final lessons address common mental/emotional/social changes and feelings students may encounter as they grow up.

The perceived doozy is the reproductive system lesson, which, in fact, is a straightforward anatomy lesson that takes us as far as functions of sperm and the egg… and the fifth grade level Family Life Curriculum comes to close. No discussion about how the stars of that last sentence meet. See for yourself: search TUSD Family Life Curriculum. However, if you are looking to be offended or scandalized, prepare to be underwhelmed.

So, to those inclined to taking a negative or appalled viewpoint regarding how educators are “brainwashing” students: if your opinions are based solely on the news sources you and like-minded people in your social circle choose to absorb, and as a result of such misinformation you’ve joined the ranks who demonize teachers: Before you support the storming of school board meetings and school offices with lit torches and pitchforks, I strongly suggest you go directly to the source and speak to a teacher. You just might learn something.

Christopher Rodarte has taught in the Tucson Unified School District for 17 years.

Christopher Rodarte has taught in the Tucson Unified School District for 17 years.

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