- Title: Partisan war over teaching history and racism stokes tensions in U.S. schools
- Date: 23rd June 2021
- Summary: ASHBURN, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES (JUNE 22, 2021) (REUTERS) PAN OF MEETING AS SHOUTING ERUPTS AND SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES ENTER THE ROOM MAN BEING ARRESTED AND PROTESTING TO SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES WIDE SHOT OF ATTENDEES AT LOUDOUN COUNTY, VIRGINIA, SCHOOL BOARD MEETING STANDING UP AND CHEERING TIGHT SHOT OF SIGNS READING (English): "I CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE SILENCED" AND "MY EDUCATION, MY RIGHT, MY CHOICE" (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER ADDRESSING LOUDOUN COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEETING, SAYING: "You're teaching children to hate others because of their skin color, and you're forcing them to lie about other kids' gender. I am disgusted by your bigotry and your depravity. It's time to replace..." AUDIENCE CHEERS AS SPEAKER CONCLUDES REMARKS AND WALKS UP AISLE WIDE SHOT AUDIENCE BOOING AS SCHOOL BOARD ANNOUNCES THEY ARE ENDING PUBLIC MEETING SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS GETTING UP FROM THEIR CHAIRS AND EXITING AS PEOPLE BOO ATTENDEES SHOUTING, WAVING SIGNS WOMAN CHANTING (English): "SHAME ON YOU! SHAME ON YOU!" MAN SHOUTING (English): "DON'T LEAVE! WE CAME HERE TO SAY THAT THIS IS OUR HOUSE. EVERYONE CAN STAY." VARIOUS OF ATTENDEES SINGING NATIONAL ANTHEM WIDE SHOT OF ATTENDEES CHEERING, WAVING AMERICAN FLAGS WOMAN SHOUTING (English): "IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU'RE DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN" MAN LOOKING ON ATTENDEES LOOKING ON AS PEOPLE PROTEST CANCELLATION OF PUBLIC MEETING WIDE SHOT OF PEOPLE LINING UP OUTSIDE SCHOOL BOARD MEETING GROUND SHOT OF PEOPLE'S FEET WALKING TO MEETING WOMAN HOLDING POSTER READING (English): "STEM NOT CRT" DEBORAH MORBETO HOLDING SIGN READING (English): "BANNING THE TEACHING OF SYSTEMIC RACISM IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF SYSTEMIC RACISM" (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEBORAH MORBETO, ATTENDEE FOR THE TEACHING OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY, SAYING: "Would you not teach what happened during World War One, or World War Two, or the American Revolution? No, you wouldn't. We need critical race theory, because we need real history." PEOPLE LINING UP OUTSIDE SCHOOL BOARD MEETING (SOUNDBITE) (English) WALLY, ATTENDEE AGAINST THE TEACHING OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY, SAYING: "When I heard that teachers and students were having critical race theory shoved down their throats, and young white kids were being told that there was something wrong with them because of the color of their skin, I became very concerned." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) WALLY, ATTENDEE AGAINST THE TEACHING OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY, SAYING: "And I don't mind telling the truth as it is. Critical race theory is anti-white, and it's not American." SIGN READING (English): "STOP TEACHING CRITICAL RACIST THEORY TO OUR KIDS" (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOE MOBLEY, ATTENDEE AGAINST THE TEACHING OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY, SAYING: "My youngest looks very white, so they would look at her and say, 'you are an oppressor,' probably not knowing that she's actually biracial, based on immutable characteristics - not the content of her character; not any qualities about her other than how she looks. And, I just, I don't see how that's productive. I don't see how it's accurate. And I don't see how it's not gonna cause society to move further apart." SIGN READING (English): "LOUDOUN COUNTY'S WORST NIGHTMARE: EDUCATED PARENTS" (SOUNDBITE) (English) BARBARA GERRITSEN, ATTENDEE SUPPORTIVE OF LOUDOUN COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM, SAYING: "I don't know why critical race theory is being brought up to our local school board when it's not really our agenda - that it's not what the school board is-- I don't believe it's what they're trying to teach. I think they're trying to teach basic, good, real, true history to the children. They need to know it." WIDE SHOT OF SCHOOL BOARD MEETING IN PROGRESS SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS CONDUCTING MEETING AUDIENCE LISTENING WIDE SHOT OF SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS TIGHT SHOT ATTENDEES LISTENING
- Embargoed: 7th July 2021 17:47
- Keywords: Loudon County critical race theory education school board
- Location: ASHBURN, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES
- City: ASHBURN, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Education,Society/Social Issues,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA001EIN3RD3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:The school board of Virginia's wealthy Loudoun County had planned to hold a routine meeting to close out the school year. Instead, it was pandemonium.
Many of the hundreds of parents who flooded the auditorium in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., on Tuesday (June 22) night were there to accuse the schools of teaching their kids that racism in America is structural and systemic - which the board denies. Some signs read, "Education not indoctrination" and "You don't end racism by teaching it."
The evening grew so heated that the board walked out of the room, leaving sheriff's deputies to disperse the crowd.
One man was arrested and public comment shut down when the meeting turned unruly. According to a statement issued by the sheriff's office, the man was arrested for "acting disorderly and displaying aggressive behavior towards another attendee."
Loudoun has been roiled for months by accusations that it has embraced critical race theory, a school of thought that maintains that racism is ingrained in U.S. law and institutions and that legacies of slavery and segregation have created an uneven playing field for Black Americans.
The school system says it is simply training teachers, the majority of whom are white, to be "culturally responsive" to serve the county's increasingly diverse student population.
The tensions in Loudoun echo a larger battle playing out across the country. As Americans tackle racial and social injustice in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd last year, several Republican-led states including Florida, Georgia and Texas have enacted new rules to limit teaching about the role of racism in the United States.
The idea that an obscure academic doctrine is infiltrating public schools has become a rallying cry for conservatives. From school boards and parent activists to governors and lawmakers, they say tenets of the theory - popularly known as CRT - are being used to indoctrinate children that America is a racist country. Fueled by right-wing media, the conflict has mushroomed into a national debate over how - and which version of - U.S. history is taught in schools.
Critics argue there is no evidence CRT is being taught in most - if any - public schools. Instead, they say, it has become a handy red flag to wave at any efforts to promote racial equity and better outcomes for non-white students.
Several teachers and education experts say they worry that rules banning CRT or placing limits on how to talk about racism generally could have a chilling effect on efforts to teach Black history, including the legacy of slavery and race relations.
In addition to the debate over CRT, tensions also rose over discussion surrounding the school board's position in support of Proposed Policy 8040 for transgender students.
The policy calls for all students to be "treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, or gender identity/expression." It could potentially affect staff use of transgender students' names and pronouns; transgender students' access to sports, restrooms and locker rooms."
Earlier in the day, supporters and opponents of 8040 demonstrated outside the school board venue.
In her closing remarks, school board chair, Brenda Sheridan, noted that some school board members had received death threats over their support of 8040 and critical race theory.
"We will not back down from fighting for the rights of our students and continuing our focus on equity," she said.
(Production: Vanessa Johnston, Gershon Peaks, Kevin Fogarty, Gabriella Borter)
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