I would like to address Mr. Van Horn’s assertion that America was founded on white supremacy principles as well as his assumptions about ‘identity,’ ‘power’ and ‘privilege,’ terms commonly used in critical race theory.
When he states, “You are afraid of teens being in a brave space and trying to actively address their identity…,” he is defining individuality, not identity. Unfortunately, CRT does not focus on individuals, it places them in categories based on race, class and type. If a person is white, they have power and privilege. If they are not white, they are victims, regardless of their individual circumstances.
I share Mr. Van Horn’s concerns about racism, but CRT does not offer solutions to bigotry; it makes accusations of racism and magnifies differences. In fact, it overtly teaches racism.
Although PUSD introduced a history class incorporating CRT terminology, CRT is not confined to historical content. For example, an Oregon teacher training worksheet states: “White supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms when students are required to show their work” because this practice “reinforces worship of the written word as well as paternalism.” According to CRT, these are just two of the characteristics of white supremacy culture.
Traditional academics emphasizes writing because it reinforces memory, allows students to review their work, and helps instructors understand where students misunderstand a concept, including those found in mathematics. Which of these two approaches is racist?
Mr. Van Horn’s assertion that America was founded on principles of white supremacy is also inaccurate.
First, white supremacy isn’t a principle – it’s an abdication of morality that runs contrary to founding principles. The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal” and this idea was reinforced in the U.S. Constitution. Second, there have always been significant numbers of Americans, even during colonial times, who were actively opposed to slavery and racism.
CRT forcefully promotes and reinforces the white supremacy view Mr. Van Horn believes is an accurate assessment of the founding fathers, but just one example demonstrates why this is incorrect. George Washington had two opportunities for pursuing monarchy. Kingship would have given him extraordinary power and wealth, established permanent rule for his family, and more than likely, created an aristocracy of plantation owners and made slavery permanent. Why would a man that CRT characterizes as a white supremacist whose only interest is power and privilege turn those opportunities down?
It’s a shame that Mr. Van Horn believes this country was founded on racism because an accurate view of history proves otherwise. It’s a bigger problem than most realize and research proves this point. A 2019 Woodrow Wilson Foundation survey found that less the 25% of Americans knew why the colonists fought the Revolutionary War and only 36% of Americans could pass the national citizenship test.
I share Mr. Van Horn’s complaint that “Our history classes brush over the Chinese Exclusion Act and completely ignore the Tulsa Race Massacre.” There was a time when these topics were covered, and many others. Students learned history in chronological order to understand what led up to an event, how it was or was not resolved, and how their rights were in play. What it did not do was divide students by superficial categories and tell them they’re in a perpetual power struggle they’re likely to lose. And because teaching degrees primarily focus on teaching methods rather than subject matter, our teachers are likely to be negatively affected as well. Why would we put students or teachers in this position?
Because of these concerns, I stand by the assertions I made in my June 9 editorial.
Editor’s note: Beverly Pingerellli is a member of the PUSD governing board and a member of the Arizona state House of Representatives for Legislative District 21.