CRT bans violate student academic freedom | Letters to the Editor

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox and congressional candidate Neil Parrott have content on their websites supporting an effective ban on Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools. In a Cox campaign video, a supporter claims CRT is “taking away the choice.” On Parrott’s website, he states that “critical race theory has no place in our schools.”

I have 12 years of experience teaching social studies at the high school level. I have questions for politicians like Cox, Parrott and others who are proposing to ban CRT in classrooms. Suppose these Republican politicians get their way and succeed in banning CRT. I would like to know how they plan to enforce such a ban as it would be considered policing.

Parents of middle and high school students know that students do research and present in class. What should a teacher do if a student chooses to examine a subject of study through the lens of the CRT? Is the teacher supposed to say to the student, “No, you’re not allowed to research, write, or present on this.” Or, suppose the teacher allows the student to write a CRT paper and advises the student on how to improve their paper or provides them with the writings of CRT legal scholars such as Derrick Bell, that teacher will be reprimanded or fired for helping this student with their research? Would the student receive an “F” grade for researching, writing, or presenting a paper on the CRT?

How would Frederick County Public Schools be punished if students researched, wrote, or gave presentations that considered the CRT? Would a prospective Republican county executive withhold school funding for violating a rule banning CRT? Dan Cox says he would. Finally, how do the Republicans proposing a CRT ban reconcile this with students’ rights to academic freedom? If we prohibit students from learning the CRT, students lose their academic freedom and therefore also their First Amendment rights in the classroom.