My History with CRT

I still remember the first time I heard the acronym CRT. I was sitting in a high school class during my sophomore year back in the early 1980’s. The teacher told us that the box in front of us was a CRT. Imagine a CRT sitting in front of students in a classroom today!

For those of you who were not in classrooms back in those days, I am referring to a Cathode Ray Tube monitor. It was a big heavy box that acted as our computer screen back in the days of floppy disks and CPU’s or (Central Processing Units). Oh, those were the days!

Anyway, acronyms and computers have both evolved over the last 40 years or so since I left that high school classroom. Who among us could have predicted the volatility of the acronym CRT? Ironically, another one of the terms that CRT is an acronym for has also been around since about that time I was sitting in front of that monitor in my high school class. That term is Critical Race Theory, and it seems to upset many people as much as the use of profanity.

Honestly, as a school administrator with over 20 years of experience, I was unfamiliar with the term in 2020 when it started making the news and concerns started to be raised that schools were teaching Critical Race Theory. As phone calls started to trickle in from concerned parents, administrators would ask concerned parents and citizens to tell them about a specific lesson that emphasized CRT, but the concerns typically were more about anxiety related to this new term that schools had somehow seamlessly integrated into their teaching.

The timing of this really was a headscratcher since most schools across the country were on the heels of a year or more of fully remote learning due to Covid and nearly every parent in every district across the country had the opportunity to see and/or listen to lessons as teachers streamed their classes in real-time. Interestingly enough, during that entire year, there was no talk about CRT. But just a short time later, this term became the ire of many and through some act of magic, educators across the country were espousing it.

Pardon my sarcasm, but if you have experience working in schools you know that rolling out a new initiative, like the teaching of Critical Race Theory is not like hitting the on switch for a light. It takes a great deal of time to support educators in the implementation of a new math curriculum, nevermind an area of study defined by Wikipedia as follows:

Critical race theory (CRT) is a cross-disciplinary examination, by social and civil-rights scholars and activists, to explore how laws, social and political movements, and media shape, and are shaped by, social conceptions of race and ethnicity.

While I would be in full support of CRT being taught to students in schools, it would take a great deal of time and support for school districts to begin this work.

For a little more background on Critical Race Theory, check out the Legal Defense Fund’s website for some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about CRT. For a great deal more information on CRT, grab a copy of On Critical Race Theory by Victor Ray It is a very accessible look at CRT and shows clearly how the explicit teaching of the topic would benefit all of us.

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