Mission America

Christian Commentary on the Culture

Critical Race Theory in Ohio Schools: Frequently Asked Questions

Mission America Alert

UPDATE: New action at Ohio State Board of Education rescinds the racist policy passed in 2020. See more details below.

School boards throughout Ohio have heard from numerous parents who have objections to lessons and programs based on “critical race theory.” We have been very involved in these discussions and some have asked for details about our position.

Q. What is “critical race theory”?

A. Taught first on college campuses and in law schools, critical race theory views the whole of history and our society’s institutions through the lens of race, and proposes that America was founded on and is still infused with “white privilege” and “white supremacy.” Our culture is “systemically racist,” and needs to be reconstructed from the ground up. It becomes readily apparent that this position has dire implications. What does an American reconstruction look like? And is anything even close to this needed?

People are asked to view themselves and others as either “oppressors” or those who are “oppressed”  (a basic tenet of Marxism) and to then embrace prejudiced views of other people based on skin color. The result is a great divide, with victimization on one hand and defensiveness on the other due to collective guilt and suspicion. 

Q. How is this theory being applied in K through 12 classrooms today?

A. Many schools and education “experts” are quick to claim that critical race theory is NOT being taught in schools. So what’s all the fuss? As many parents will attest, CRT may or may not be named as such, but is readily visible as applied to Ohio school mission statements, lesson plans, literature selections, special observances, school club activities, history studies, school policies and more.

All of American heritage and many long-standing educational practices (such as achievement based on merit) are being criticized under the CRT framework and objective standards of academic success may now be considered “white” and “western” and therefore “racist.” Enforcement of school policies and behavior codes are up for reconsideration as well. One can only surmise that an intent to gain power and/or divide is the bottom-line purpose of such ideology.

The usual vehicle for CRT influence in schools is a revision of a school’s mission statement to advocate “justice,  equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI)” or it may be called “diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).” Sounds admirable until one learns that the new definition of “equity” contrasts sharply with the “equality” standard most of America readily accepts—that as Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, Americans should be judged based not on the color of one’s skin but the content of one’s character. 

That is not the working application of “equity,” and it’s the shocking discovery of this (and more) that has Ohio parents from many backgrounds, races and ethnicities deeply concerned.

Q. What does “equity” really mean?

A. The working definition of equity is to re-arrange circumstances to make things equal, and if institutions and even the constitutional rights of others need to be dismantled, so be it. This recklessness of discarding/revising American heritage and culture, bypassing laws and upending institutions forces presumed “solutions” on presumed problems. 

Is there occasional racism on school athletic teams? Then team members of color must be given special privileges to make up for any injustices that may have happened at any time in the past. Discrimination is, in fact, now acceptable and advocated by DEI (CRT) ideological leaders as a necessary tool of  “equity” and there are several immediate problems most parents see for schools: division among those who once were united, and the fact that discrimination is illegal under current law. 

It is illegal in Ohio and most school districts to discriminate based on race (and many other factors).

But tossing out standards for rules, laws, respect for religious faith and traditional family structures and even sexual morality is often advocated as part of JEDI or DEI because these are said to be reflections of society’s “white supremacy.”  Where does this chaos end?

One can see quickly that DEI justifies identity politics and power plays, and will make things more divided, less diverse and less equal pretty quickly. It sounds a lot like training children to become destabilized revolutionaries. Yet why? America is pretty admirable on the whole. If it isn’t, it’s hard to understand why so many people want to immigrate to our country.

Q. Are you opposed to schools teaching about the difficult racial history of our nation? Can subject matter taught in schools deal honestly with our history of slavery, segregation and other evidences of racism in the past?

A. Opponents of CRT are absolutely NOT opposed to teaching the true history of Black America. In fact, many people opposed to CRT would like to see a greatly expanded teaching in U.S. schools of all facets of our history – good and bad. As it stands, most great Black leaders from American history receive only slight attention, at best.  Understanding the true depth and history of slavery and racism is critically important. What should absolutely not happen is that the evils of slavery be allowed to overshadow the great men and women of our combined United States history who have united to achieve greater unity, dignity, and success than any society in history.  CRT’s overriding message of victimhood status of people of color must not be asserted, especially when Black success stories are almost completely avoided.

That type of exaggeration is happening in content selections for literature, in school observances, in many history lessons, during Black History Month, and in school activist training — for instance, encouraging students to protest law enforcement and see police as the enemy. Sending that message to students is a direct reflection of the influence of CRT on current K-12 education.

Q. You claim that CRT theory is being applied in Ohio schools. Can you give more specific examples?

A. Yes. First let’s look at what education leaders are advocating, which sets the standard for the local level.

In July 2020, the Ohio State Board of Education passed a sweeping resolution condemning “white supremacy culture” and “hate speech” and encouraging top-to-bottom audits of Ohio schools for “inequity” and “implicit bias.” A sizeable conservative board minority objected but in the wake of race hysteria, the state board’s majority prevailed. This resolution is based on critical race theory.

[UPDATE: On October 13, 2021,  the Ohio State Board of Education rescinded the offensive resolution and replaced it with one entitled, "Resolution to Promote Academic Excellence in K-12 Education for Each Ohio Student Without Prejudice or Respect to Race, Ethnicity or Creed.” The new resolution places emphasis on academics and  “condemns any standards, curriculum or training programs for students, teachers or staff,  that seek to divide or ascribe circumstances or qualities, such as collective guilt, moral deficiency, or racial bias to a whole race or group of people.” This is one clear victory, yet many Ohioans still urge the passage of House Bill 327 to ensure local school districts clean up their racist "equity" programs.]

In July 2020, at the annual meeting (virtual that year) of the National Education Association, a speech by outgoing  president Lily Eskelsen Garcia stated that “exclusion” in America “continues to be intentional,” but started 400 years ago when “white male Protestants with money” built systems to intentionally oppress others. This is a reference to the widely discredited 1619 Project, which theorizes (inaccurately) that America’s founding was devised solely to benefit white males, and used slavery to do so.

In July 2021, the NEA passed a new business item to “...share and publicize... information already available on critical race theory (CRT) .... have a team of staffers for members who want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric... The union will “...provide an already-created...study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti- Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project. “ When negative publicity began to circulate, observers discovered the page describing the new NEA policy was no longer available on the NEA site. But there is no information that it has been rescinded. Accusations still circulate that "CRT is not being taught in schools." 

Q. What about local Ohio schools?

A. There are many examples of the influence of critical race theory in Ohio schools. 

-- Many Ohio school districts have recently revised mission statements with “equity” language that reflects the CRT ideology. To see several examples go HEREHEREHERE and HERE.

--In Lakota (OH) Local Schools, a parent accused the school board and the schools of “lying” to parents. “You may not call it critical race theory, or the 1619 Project, but the content is exactly that,” she said. “You are teaching black students that they are less, and white students to be sorry for being white. No one is born racist and hateful. You are attempting to create more racist and hateful people.”

-- Two parents from Kings Local School District stated at a Kings school board meeting  that Black Lives Matters flags were on display in several high school classrooms and the BLM logo appeared on school materials, despite school policy prohibiting partisan political issues at school. One teacher refuses to fly the American flag and has told students it’s because the American flag doesn’t represent everyone. But that classroom displays both the BLM flag and a “gay pride” flag. The agenda of Black Lives Matter clearly reflects critical race theory.

-- A Kings’ parent also objected to lessons centered around required reading of the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, which she called “anti-Christian, anti-American, and racist.” One school board member who spoke out against the assignment of this book was deluged with negative emails, phone calls, and boycotts of his business, encouraged by a group calling itself “United against Hate.” In a seeming conflict of interest, that group was led by the diversity committee leader of the Kings school district.

-- Testimony at an Ohio legislation committee hearing from Juliet Tissot described her research of southwest Ohio school districts about possible CRT lessons. She told the Ohio House committee that, “No, it is not a rumor.” In Forest Hills (OH), a video was recorded showing a teacher telling a student he was “racist” and he should “check his white privilege.” The teacher even sent the student to the principal’s office.

- -- A Loveland (OH) middle school principal tweeted his support for Ibram Kendi, author of How to be an Anti-Racist (a book based on critical race theory). Kendi advocates discrimination today to compensate for past racial discrimination, believes capitalism is racist, and believes America is irredeemably racist and must undergo a radical shift.

--- A newsletter was sent to parents and staff from Mad River School District that included this question: “In what ways are we complicit in perpetuating systemic oppression?” A poem written by a teacher was also included in the newsletter, with this message: “I am ashamed. Ashamed of my white privileged skin. Ashamed of my white brothers and sisters with their small minds killing my innocent brothers and sisters because of a color.”

--A recent graduate of Rocky River High School (Cleveland area) told an Ohio Statehouse committee that in his 2015 high school class taught by the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio (a course still being taught), the teacher told the students, “Only white people can be racist.”

-- A student taped a 9th grade class called “Diversity 101” in 2018, in a Cleveland area school, where the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio instructor tells the students that society is divided into two groups, a “dominant” class and a “subordinate” class, with the dominant class enjoying unearned privileges and making all the rules to benefit itself.

-- The “equity commitment” of Bay Village (OH) Schools didn’t just adopt the Ohio State Board of Education resolution. This district went right to militant language from the mission of Black Lives Matter. Bay Village schools are pledging to “disrupt systemic inequities and eliminate disparities...”  BLM’s original mission language included a pledge to “disrupt.”

--Princeton City Schools have adopted an “Equity in Action” plan that among many other initiatives, will ...“By the end of the 2022-23 school year, decrease the disproportionality of student discipline and disability over-identification of targeted student groups.”

-- Gahanna-Lincoln School District revised its school mission with commitment to “equity.” “This resolution is a call to action for GJPS to be an anti-racist school district committed to social justice in education.”

[“Anti-racism” is not what most people think. The new interpretation of being an “anti-racist” is that one actively becomes racist to discriminate in favor of people of color, which, as previously mentioned, violates both federal and state law]

-- Parents of Gahanna-Lincoln High School were outraged that their kids had to take something called an “Implicit Bias Test.” 

-- A whistleblower Facebook page called The “Gahanna Underground” states this:“...{From]documents from Gahanna’s “Equity and Access Work Committee.” Throughout the 160 pages there are multiple references to well -known Critical Race theorists like Robin DiAngelo and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. These two in particular espouse ideologies no better than David Duke but are presented as ‘academics.’”

-- An official of a Brunswick (OH) school called the parents of a biracial student asking if they had everything they needed for the school year. This high school senior asked his white friends if their families had gotten similar calls and none of them had.

--Students affiliated with school-sponsored “LGBTQ” clubs (often called ‘gay-straight alliances’)  have become heavily involved in race political issues in the past year, espousing the most radical of current ideas. GSA students in Columbus were pictured at a BLM protest and featured by the national “GSA Network” group in its “Pride and Protest: Tips and Tactics for ‘LGBTQ’ Youth.” This document validates youth who attend school “gay-straight alliances” in holding anti-police attitudes. It also instructs about how to protest against “police violence,” including what to do if you encounter police, and who to contact for bail if arrested. If arrested during a protest, gender confused students are told they have the right to insist that police use their preferred names and pronouns, and they don’t have to reveal their biological sex. This advice is needed because they claim, “Police often violate the rights of LGBTQ+ people during arrests or jail booking.” 

Again, GSAs are school-sponsored clubs.

-- Many schools are advocating removal of school resource officers or have already done so, in keeping with the CRT notion that police are part of the “systemic racism” problem and police numbers need to be reduced. Leaving school without a police presence has been advocated in Columbus schoolsCincinnati schools, and Toledo Schools.

-- A Cleveland-based sex education website called 216Teens.org , funded by the U.S. HHS Department of Adolescent Health, posted a July 16, 2020 social media post advertising an online “summit” for teens ages 13 to 19 to learn about the intersection of “racial and reproductive justice.” 

Q. Are there examples in other areas of the country where CRT has influenced the school climate?

A. Yes, too many to list. Here are a few highlights:

In Minnesota, a fourth grade girl reported to her parents that she was instructed by her teacher to take a survey and not to reveal its contents to parents. Although the survey was administered by Equity Alliance of Minnesota and purported to deal with equity, children were asked to also give information about their perceptions of gender identity.

In Cupertino, California, third graders were asked to rank themselves according to “power and privilege” in an assignment  creating an “identity map.” According to City Journal:

The teacher explained that the students live in a “dominant culture” of “white, middle class, cisgender, educated, able-bodied, Christian, English speaker[s],” who, according to the lesson, “created and maintained” this culture in order “to hold power and stay in power.”

In San Diego, the school district now requires mandatory diversity training for teachers, where white teachers are being told they are racist and also “colonizers” occupying stolen Native American land. The district also abolished the requirement to turn in homework on time, and established a new “ethnic studies” curriculum, in an effort to be known as an “anti-racist” district. For some training, they hired Bettina Love, a critical race theorist, who believes that American schools cause the “spirit murder” of black children.

In one Atlanta elementary school, a black parent who was on the PTO board has filed a federal civil rights complaint after she discovered plans by the black principal to segregate students into all-black and all-white classes. The principal did this because she believed it would give the black students more opportunities.

Q. What do you recommend that parents do in response?

A. Our position is that parents should specifically opt their children out of objectionable lessons like these, in writing to the school. (Opt-out forms are HERE). Parents need to contact teachers and administrators with objections to any material presented to their children, and testify before school boards when necessary. New school board members who have the best interests of children in mind and are not driven by this ideological agenda need to be elected where needed.