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VICTOR JOECKS: CCSD’s ‘anti-racism’ policy filled with critical race theory concepts

The Clark County School District should spend less time pushing critical race theory and more time improving student achievement.

The Board of Trustees is likely to vote this month on an “anti-racism” policy. That sounds innocuous. But this policy is filled with principles that buttress critical race theory. It’s a classic bait-and-switch.

Here’s how the policy defines anti-racism. It is actively “identifying, challenging and changing the values, structures, attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate systemic racism.” Systemic racism “encompasses the history and current reality of institutions and society.”

Put that together. Anti-racism is actively challenging and changing the values and structures of today’s institutions and society. That’s a call for revolution, not opposing discrimination.

That radicalness makes sense when you understand the principles of CRT. It contends that America and its institutions are inherently and irredeemably racist. That a child’s skin color makes him or her either an oppressor or a victim. That equality under law isn’t something to aspire to, but a concept designed to disguise white supremacy.

These beliefs stand in direct conflict with the words of past civil rights leaders, including Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They didn’t want to change the foundational values of America — that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights. They demanded simply that America live up to them.

“The Constitution is a glorious liberty document,” Douglass declared in his famous “What to the slave is the Fourth of July” speech. In his “I have a dream speech,” King said, “When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”

American society is much different today than it was when King made that speech in 1963. Not that you’d know it by reading this proposed policy: “The district recognizes that racism is evident and embedded within societal norms.”

Really? I asked the district to provide three examples. That should be easy if racism is so evident. I didn’t receive a response.

How this plays out in practice is uncertain. Likely targets include Advanced Placement classes, honors courses and magnet schools. As of the 2019-20 school year, Asian students were overrepresented in high school magnet programs, while African American students were underrepresented. In the name of “racial equity,” this policy could be used to limit opportunities for high-achieving Asian students. Just look at how colleges discriminate against Asian American applicants in the name of diversity.

Curriculum reflecting CRT principles seems inevitable. It’s likely teachers will be forced to endure CRT propaganda during professional development, too.

This policy does present an opportunity for Republican primary voters to determine how willing Republican gubernatorial candidates are to defend their principles. Nevada has had many GOP candidates take one position during a primary only to act differently once elected. Look no further than Brian Sandoval.

It’s one thing to say you oppose CRT. It’s another thing to have the courage to go on record opposing CRT even when it’s called an “anti-racism” policy.

Asked specifically for his thoughts on the district’s proposal, Dean Heller offered a general statement opposing “any curriculum, including critical race theory, that divides students on the basis of race.” Not exactly a profile in courage.

Sheriff Joe Lombardo’s campaign took a position. He “firmly opposes this policy and any other that brings critical race theory to Nevada.” That’s more specific.

Publicly opposing and testifying against this policy would give a lower-tier GOP gubernatorial candidate a chance to break out. It will be interesting to see which, if any, of them are willing to take a stand.

It doesn’t matter what it’s called. If something — like this anti-racism policy — contradicts the principles laid out in King’s “I have a dream speech,” it should be rejected.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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