A School Board Disqualification

“Critical Race Theory” fear as a negative marker

Question 8 on the WeBelieveWeVote.com Survey Questionnaire reads [the italics are mine]:

Even though Gov. Inslee recently signed the “Equity Bill” into law (SB 5044), most parents oppose Critical Race Theory, The 1619 Project, and other similar types of programs, because they are historically inaccurate, divisive and they actually promote racism….School boards should not allow these programs to be implemented in schools.

Every one of the school board candidates who responded to the Questionnaire checked off a high level of agreement (either 10 or 9 on a scale of 1 to 10) with that question. That checkmark should disqualify them from serious consideration for a seat on any school board. Kata Dean and Daryl Geffken (District 81, Spokane Public Schools), and Bret Howell, Pam Orebaugh, and Rob Linebarger (Central Valley Schools) all indicated their strong agreement. 

The WeBelieveWeVote folk have no basis to assert that most parents are opposed to CRT or the 1619 Project. That contention may be true among those in the media rathole these candidates inhabit, but not among the broader populace.

Blind opposition to “Critical Race Theory, The 1619 Project, and other similar types of programs” is Republican propaganda coding for, “I have not read the 1619 Project. I do not know what Critical Race Theory is—but I’ve heard that both are bad. I have my mythic, nationalistic, American exceptionalist view of the world, and I don’t want anyone to discuss anything different with me or my child or any student in this country.” 

Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a cause célèbre was promoted by Christopher Rufo, amplified by Tucker Carlson, taken up by Donald Trump, and rapidly spread by Republican media. Rufo knew full well that CRT is not taught in K-12 schools, but he recognized that each of these three words, critical, race, and theory, already carried negative connotations for a certain audience and therefore could be used to generate suspicion and fear. 

Woody Holton, Professor of History at the University of South Carolina, put the flap about CRT in proper perspective, noting that this “mythical thing called critical race theory…should be defined in the dictionary as ‘whatever aspect of Black history I wish to ban.’” (This quote is part of an excellent podcast and transcript, Ezra Klein Interviews Woody Holton, on The Ezra Klein Show, a podcast that is also widely available beyond the NYTimes.) 

The local school board candidates indicating their agreement with WeBelieveWeVote’s statement that CRT and the 1619 Project are historically inaccurate, divisive and they actually promote racism are simply parroting Mr. Rufo, using a convenient set of buzzwords to signal their desire to censor the teaching of historic details that don’t fit their prejudices.

Vote Riley Smith and Melissa Bedford for the Spokane School District’s Board. For Central Valley School District be sure to fill in the oval for Teresa Landa for Position 2 (lest Bret Howell win as a write-in). For Position 5 write in Stan Chalich on the line provided AND fill in the oval. Neither of the printed candidates (Pam or Rob) for Position 5 is suitable for a public school board:

Keep to the high ground,