KENTUCKY — Critical race theory (CRT). It’s a discussion that recently has been a big talker across the country and here in the Commonwealth.
The topic has unleashed some concern from parents, teachers and other educators on how to address the topic of racism in history in classroom discussions.
During this In Focus Kentucky segment, we take a look at what these groups are saying at the largest school districts in the state.
Some say CRT and topics like racism are divisive, which is why they want to limit discussions.
Not all agree. One is an anti-bias trainer and Jefferson County Technical College (JCTC) teacher Michele Hemenway Pullen. She feels discussions on race have brought students from all walks of life together.
“It would be much more beneficial if [students] got this comprehensive, inclusive story that allowed them to make better decisions, to understand better the facts of the true history,” Pullen argued.
She suggested a couple of things to change the curriculum: to tell about Africans’ lives before they were enslaved and to put more focus on their contributions to American society.
Parent and Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) teacher Tyra Walker wants to see this, too. She wants racism spoken of openly.
"The more dirt you sweep up under that rug, the bigger that rug is [going to] get, and eventually it's going to spew out. So, let's not keep sweeping it under the rug. Let's pull out all the dirt. Talk about it all,” Walker said.
"I'm just so sick of this!” another teacher, Christina Trosper, expressed her exasperation over the anti-CRT legislation.
Also during June, Gallatin County’s School Board in Northern Kentucky became the first in the state of Kentucky to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory. School leaders in this district discuss the decision during this segment.
The district’s superintendent issued a statement saying “The Board also believes no individual is 'inherently racist, sexist or oppressive' due to their race or sex, 'whether consciously or unconsciously.'”
Kentucky’s long-time U.S Senator and current Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently made a stop here in the Commonwealth and he too was asked about his thoughts on CRT and whether he thought it should be banned from the classroom.
"I think criticizing such things as the 1619 project, which tends to put that date, as something uniquely American. There was a lot of slavery going on around the world in the early 1600s. We fought a civil war in order to put our original sins behind us. We passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in order to further enfranchise minorities in our country. It's been a long arc of trying to improve race relations in this country. But I think trying to completely denigrate and downgrade American historical moments like 1776, 1787, 1965, critical moments is a mistake. But I don't think the government's any better at prescribing what ought to be taught, than the universities themselves but they ought to be open to criticism about what they're doing," he said.