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Richland School Board to consider ‘race, culture’ policy passed by Kennewick

Oct. 24, 2022 Updated Mon., Oct. 24, 2022 at 8:43 p.m.

By Eric Rosane Tri-City Herald

RICHLAND – The Richland School Board on Tuesday will discuss whether or not to pass a measure that seeks to teach “factual U.S. history” in the classroom.

The measure – Policy No. 2360: Race, Culture and the Curriculum – has language lifted directly from a similar policy that was passed over the summer by the Kennewick School Board.

Richland board member Semi Bird, who requested to bring forward Kennewick’s policy, has called Critical Race Theory “one of the greatest threats that our nation and our community faces today” and a “marxist, anti-American initiative.”

Two of the Kennewick board members originally drafted the policy in order to curb the “principles and tenets” of Critical Race Theory last summer, but the final product isn’t expected to have an impact on what Kennewick students currently learn in the classroom.

Also known as CRT, the theory emerged in the 1970s in legal circles as a way to examine the law in how it serves the interests of people in power at the expense of others.

Conservatives in recent years have co-opted the term CRT as a broad umbrella to encompass progressive ways of re-examining the U.S.’s troubled history with slavery, racism and civil rights.

The proposed Richland policy reads: “The board believes that the history of all races should be valued and believes in the importance of students learning social studies, civics and the factual history of the United States from a non-partisan stance, free from political and personal biases.”

Instructors may teach about the different racial dynamics in any given subject, and that racism exists today, but students” will not be indoctrinated in the belief that the U.S. is fundamentally or systemically racist,” the policy reads.

It also cannot be taught that race informs a person’s worth or value, whether they’re “inherently racist, oppressors or victims,” their moral character, or that their race makes them “responsible for past transgressions of their race.”

“The Washington state constitutional mandate that schools shall remain forever free from sectarian control or influence shall not preclude students from expressing their views relative to beliefs about racism in compositions, reports, music, art, debate, and classroom discussion, insofar as that racial discrimination, racism and harassment are expressly prohibited,” the policy reads.

The board will have a first reading on Tuesday. Final adoption of the policy is expected Nov. 8.

Washington state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal and other district officials across the state have said repeatedly that they’re not teaching the subjects in classrooms.

But there has been growing frustration in conservative circles that instructors have crossed the line in teaching their own personal beliefs on race, history and politics in the classroom.

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