Is it Critical Race Theory, or something else?
That’s the bitter debate underway in Loudoun County, which is pitting parent against parent over how race relations should be taught in public schools.
The issue: Something called “Critical Race Theory," the idea that racism is an inherent part of all institutions in society. The county insists it’s not part of the school curriculum. But many parents suspect the county’s new equity initiative is just Critical Race Theory in disguise.
Tempers flared last week during a Loudoun County public hearing.
“You cannot tell me what is or is not racist, look at me,” one angry parent told the Loudoun County School Board.
The furor has put affluent Loudoun County at the epicenter of a national conversation about teaching racism in the classroom.
Critical Race Theory, or CRT, focuses on systemic racism. It says racism is embedded in society’s systems and institutions, perpetuating a position of superiority for white people at the expense of minorities. The theory is not new, but recently emerged as a topic in some public schools following the Black Lives Matter movement and increased awareness of racism in America.
It is a complex theory that Loudoun County Schools Interim Superintendent, Scott Ziegler insists, is not part of the school curriculum.
“We’ve been saying for months that we don’t teach Critical Race Theory,” Superintendent Ziegler said.
The county has come up with an “equity plan,” which was developed over the past two years after complaints about racial insensitivity in the classroom.
“So, when I hear these stories of children hurting, as a leader, I have to take action,” Ziegler said. “So, our equity efforts are about making Loudoun County public schools the absolute best place it can be for all our students.”
But some parents suspect the equity plan is a Trojan Horse, intended to indoctrinate students with a racist ideology.
“It is this School Board, this administration, and a Facebook mob that has put Loudoun County as ground zero in the national fight against Critical Race Theory,” Ian Prior told the School Board last week.
Prior has two children in Loudoun County public schools and is Executive Director of Fight for Schools.com, a website opposed to CRT.
“Nobody’s saying that Loudoun County Public Schools or other schools are teaching Critical Race Theory 101, like they would teach physics or chemistry,” Prior said. “But it’s a broad lens that’s implemented through how teachers are trained and how those trained teachers teach our children, which is to view America, view our institutions, to view our culture, traditions, and language all based on systemic racism.”
So far, a petition to unseat six of the eight school board members has more than 1,500 signatures. But it’s not just the School Board feeling the heat. Parent groups are battling it out online.
One group, calling themselves “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County” posted comments on Facebook suggested its supporters gather information on the parents who oppose CRT, infiltrate their groups, expose them publicly and hack into their websites.
When asked how he could unify parents and teachers when at least one School Board member is accused of “plotting war” against parents who don’t agree with them and calling them racists on Facebook, Superintendent Ziegler said, “We’ve been very clear that we don’t condone or participate in any of this vitriolic back and forth, and that’s not something that we, as an administration condone.”
Some of the Facebook posts have been taken down, and following complaints, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office confirms it is investigating. But the debate is far from over and all eyes remain on Loudoun County to see how the next chapter in this story unfolds.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office provided this statement to 7News on the matter: