News & Politics

School District: 'Our Superintendent Is Doing His Job' By Saying Critical Race Theory 'Isn't Optional Anymore'

Boy in classroom. Image credit Ernesto Eslava, Pixabay

In January, Don Grotting, superintendent of the school district in Beaverton, Ore., suggested that if teachers disagree with the “anti-racism” movement inspired by critical race theory, they should seek work elsewhere. Critical race theory upends society by claiming that America is systemically racist, despite clear civil rights laws outlawing race-based discrimination. The ideology also arguably promotes racism by demonizing white people and supposedly “white” aspects of society. The Oregon Department of Education and multiple members of the school board have defended Grotting.

“I do want the message to get out there that this [anti-racism training] isn’t optional anymore,” Grotting said in a Zoom equity meeting on January  28, 2021, The Daily Wire reported. “We’ve waited for the willing, and if you’re not willing then maybe this isn’t the right place for you to work” (emphasis added).

“Maybe we can free up your future, because if we’re going to become an anti-racist school district, it can’t just be a few people, it needs to be everybody, to include our staff, our students, our community, eventually everyone,” the superintendent said.

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Grotting’s comments came about a month before a teacher, Katherine Watkins, suggested that educators would get fired if they don’t “evolve” with the “anti-racist” trends in the school system. “If you’re not evolving into an anti-racist educator, you’re making yourself obsolete in this field of profession,” she said.

When Fox News reported Watkins’ comment, Grotting claimed that her comments “did not reflect our District’s position or policies” but he insisted, “we are undeterred. … The Beaverton School District is taking action steps on the road to becoming an anti-biased, antiracist school district.” Grotting said the district does not support “the comments as presented out of context, he said the district does support the staff member who made them. He made these claims in an April all-staff email obtained by PJ Media.

Grotting did not explain how Watkins’ comments had been twisted out of context. Her claim that teachers must “evolve” to embrace the “antiracist” movement echoes his claim from January that antiracism training “isn’t optional anymore.”

The school district did not respond to PJ Media’s request for comment on Grotting’s “optional” comment. The Oregon Department of Education, however, expressed support for Grotting after the news went viral.

“The Beaverton School District and Superintendent Grotting are taking important steps to ensure all students are welcome, recognized, and safe in their schools,” Marc Siegel, communications director at the Oregon DOE, told PJ Media.

“Beaverton School District is a diverse school district with more than half of its students identifying as students of color,” Siegel argued. “It is important that the district provide a culturally responsive and sustaining space for students to learn and thrive. The district is taking positive steps in that direction by taking action to address institutional racism to better ensure our schools serve all students, families, and staff.”

“It is appropriate for a superintendent to share expectations for staff training and professional development,” the communications director concluded.

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In a separate email to Jeanette Schade, a former candidate for school board, Oregon DOE Director Colt Gill wrote, “It is appropriate for a superintendent to share expectations for staff training and professional development. I do not see this as unethical behavior on the part of Superintendent Grotting.”

While the school district did not respond to PJ Media, the school board supported Grotting in a meeting on Monday. School Board Chair Becky Tymchuk noted that six people had submitted public comments demanding that the board fire Grotting or ask him to resign. She dismissed those comments.

“Our superintendent is carrying out the policies that this board has put forth, and that is for this district to be an anti-biased, antiracist district. He is doing his job and this board stands behind him doing his job,” Tymchuk declared.

Members of the school board separately expressed support for Grotting’s comments in emails that concerned parents shared with PJ Media.

“The school board is dedicated to the work of becoming an anti-racist school district by providing a culturally relevant, responsive, and inclusive environment for all students, especially our most marginalized,” Tymchuk wrote to a parent who expressed concern about Grotting’s comments. “We support and stand behind Superintendent Grotting in leading our school district.”

School Board Member Donna Tyner responded to a concerned parent’s email by admitting that Grotting’s remarks could be considered a call to fire teachers who disagree with the “antiracism” movement, but she said she disagreed with that interpretation.

“The statement made by Don could be interpreted as encouraging teachers to join in the work against racism or it could be interpreted as call to fire teachers who don’t support this work. I disagree with your interpretation,” she wrote.

“I recognize and understand how you could think that the anti-racist work of the district is racist,” Tyner admitted. “I understand that this work makes some members in our community uncomfortable because they haven’t engaged in these kinds of conversations, don’t see the need to do so now, and have a different perspective of the world.” She argued that promoting “antiracism” is a matter of promoting dialogue, not forcing an ideology.

Tyner wrote about growing up “at a time without equal rights,” when her parents did not have control over “where we lived, went to school, who we associated with, what restaurant or park we could visit, and the list goes on and on.” While she acknowledged that “Jim Crow is no more,” she argued that “many of the practices and treatment of black people in certain situations hasn’t changed.” She mentioned “negative experiences our students have at school,” from hijab-wearing girls getting asked if they are terrorists, white boys asking if they can call black peers the N-word, and black girls getting their hair pulled without their consent.

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She mentioned assumptions people make about her and other black people based on the color of their skin, and told the parent, a white man, that he is “lucky to not have this experience.”

“I don’t believe the district is shaming or targeting white children. I do believe they are trying to prepare them for the diverse world we live in,” Tyner argued.

Yet much of the “antiracism” literature engages in demonizing white people and “whiteness.” Even the Smithsonian briefly published a horrifying Marxist lesson on “whiteness” that “deconstructed” various aspects of American and Western culture, including capitalism, science, the nuclear family, and Christianity, as nefarious relics of white supremacy. The lesson also claimed that a work ethic, delayed gratification, being polite, and getting to meetings on time are aspects of the “whiteness” culture that must be deconstructed and rejected.

Educators across the country have demonstrated the anti-white aspect of “antiracism” and critical race theory. A New York City principal urged parents to become “white traitors” and “white abolitionists,” as if “whiteness” were a sin akin to slavery. A New York University professor attributed black support for Donald Trump to “multiracial whiteness.” An Oregon State University professor wrote that “white Christians” bear responsibility for the devastating wildfires throughout Western states. A Barnard College professor recently fantasized about gassing white people — in a book!

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced she will not allow white reporters to interview her, one-on-one. A recent devotional included a prayer asking God to “help me to hate white people.” A Princeton mathematics professor has set out to eradicate the “whiteness” in math.

Of course, critical race theory isn’t just a threat to white people. The Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York (CACAGNY) condemned CRT as a “hateful, divisive, manipulative fraud,” noting that CRT implies that Asians are “over-represented.”

“CRT is today’s Chinese Exclusion Act. CRT is the real ​hate crime​ against Asians” (emphasis original),” CACAGNY argued. “CRT appears in our workplaces under the cover of ​implicit bias/sensitivity​ ​training​. It infiltrates our schools pretending to be ​culturally/ethnically responsive​ ​pedagogy​, with curricula such as the New York Times’ ​1619 Project​ and Seattle’s ​ethnomathematics​.”

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Marxist critical race theory also inspired much of the destruction of the Black Lives Matter and antifa riots over the summer. While protesters rightly expressed outrage at the treatment of George Floyd, many of the protests devolved into looting, vandalism, and arson in which lawless thugs — acting in the name of fighting racism — destroyed black livesblack livelihoods, and black monuments.

Critical race theory and “anti-racism” have made terrifying inroads in American society and in education, in particular. Parents, teachers, and citizens need to push back on this noxious ideology.