Below is a letter shared with each member of the Alabama State Board of Education regarding a board resolution that would ban Critical Race Theory in Alabama’s schools.
August 10, 2021
Dear Governor Ivey and Members of the State Board of Education:
We are writing to share our concerns about the proposed resolution and change to the Alabama Administrative Code regarding Critical Race Theory. While we know that each board member, just like A+ Education Partnership, seeks to foster a safe, student-centered learning environment for all of Alabama’s students, this resolution has many consequences for teachers, our classrooms, and most importantly, our students.
First, Critical Race Theory is not taught in Alabama’s K-12 schools, nor is it included in the nationally-recognized Social Studies Course of Study approved by this board. Passing a resolution and an emergency rule on this issue sends the wrong message in the midst of an actual emergency. As you know all too well, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on student learning, especially for our already disadvantaged students. What were systemic challenges within our public schools prior to the pandemic are now a crisis that must be addressed together. Our focus as a state should be on ensuring that our students have what they need to recover from multiple years of disrupted instruction and our teachers have all the necessary tools at their disposal.
Second, this resolution would stifle important classroom learning as teachers and school leaders either attempt to navigate the vague definitions in the resolution or avoid hard topics altogether to avoid consequences. Educators must navigate hard topics daily, such as the Holocaust, which can make students uncomfortable as they learn an accurate accounting of our history. These lessons are integral in creating engaged, educated American citizens who can think freely and engage with a wide array of thoughts and ideas. Additionally, this public conversation coupled with the stifling of classroom discussion can have negative impacts on students who belong to marginalized communities or have different life experiences than their peers.
Finally, our schools should be a place where students come together to learn from, with, and about each other. Banning any idea, whether symbolically or explicitly, restricts our students from having conversations in their classrooms about current events in our communities, our country, and our world, as well as learning from our past successes and mistakes. Debating opposing ideas can sharpen our own and also help us find understanding between those that disagree. We should prepare and trust Alabama students to maturely, rigorously, and accurately discuss history and be able to learn lessons that will brighten the state’s future.
Thank you for your consideration and your ongoing commitment to Alabama’s students.
Mark E. Dixon