Mars school board wants to assert love for country and ban teachers’ use of critical race theory

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A public school system 20 miles north of Pittsburgh appears to be the first school district in the area to propose a ban on critical race theory. The board is expected to vote on a proposal to “promote patriotism” on August 17.

Critical Race Theory is a framework that views racism as systemic in the United States. While teacher unions argue concept is not used in K-12 schools, it has become a catch-all phrase for many who oppose social justice and equity work in schools. In other parts of the country where such conversations take place, those who oppose the theory say they don’t want students to learn to hate America, or for white children to hate their skin color when ‘they learn about the history of the country.

The proposal of the council of Mars is not in response to any issues or problems in the 3,300 student district, says the member who introduced it, Dayle Ferguson.

Ferguson proposed adding “promoting informed, engaged and patriotic citizens” as a goal in the district’s mission statement at a board meeting on July 20. In a statement she read at the time, she said it was an affirmation of the district’s long-held beliefs and practices.

“Given the national narrative echoing through local school boards across this great country, Mars board members wanted to proactively and publicly reassure and / or remind those who might be curious about our position or who might have questions or concerns, “she read.” The proposed review can be summed up quite easily: The Mars area school district loves America.

She went on to say that the proposal reflects the power and importance of local control in public education.

Ferguson declined an interview request. Board chairman John Kennedy said in an email that board members have collectively decided not to hold talks on the proposal.

“Mars is a great community that is proud to be American,” Kennedy said in an email. “The policy speaks for itself.

The policy has been published for a 30-day public comment period. It is unclear how feedback from students, teachers and the public will be taken into account.

Policy reviews fall into two categories: promoting patriotism and promoting engaged and informed students.

Changes in the “patriotism” category require schools to display the American flag in all classrooms, recite the pledge of allegiance daily, and play the national anthem before sporting events. The proposal also states that schools should promote civility and decency while respecting freedom of expression, conscience and the rights to religious freedom of students, administrators and staff.

But in the category of information and student engagement, the policy would prohibit teaching concepts that “attribute fault, blame, a tendency to oppress others, or the need to feel guilty or anxious about others. people only because of their race, gender or religion. . “It also states that the district does not support the use of curriculum or supplemental material to” indoctrinate students into a single social or political ideology or theory or to promote any race, religion or gender above them. others “.

“Such concepts violate the principles of individual rights, equal opportunity and individual merit that underpin our constitutional republic, and therefore have no place in the training of administrators, teachers or other district employees.” , indicates the proposed policy.

The policy calls for four “social theories” not to be presented to students without board approval: the Holocaust Denial Theory, the 9/11 Theory, the 1619 Project, and the Critical Theory of Holocaust Denial. race. It does not define any of the “theories” or explain why they should not be used.

Ferguson’s proposal says it allows for discussion of controversial issues in high school classrooms, “including the dissemination of factual information about historical or current events, where such teachings or information reasonably relates to the course curriculum.” Both sides of the political issue should be presented, supported by balanced primary or secondary sources, to enable students to be well informed and able to make their own decisions regarding political or other controversial issues.

In his statement, Ferguson said no one should wonder or worry about the Mars area school district’s position.

“We will teach our children to honor America, to love and respect others, and to nurture their talents and individual interests in their personal pursuit of happiness,” the statement said.

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