In response to laws restricting lessons on race, racism, and oppression, teachers around the nation are pushing back. Thousands of educators across more than 20 cities gathered virtually and in person on Saturday (June 12) to protest Republican-led efforts to restrict lessons on oppression in America, The Washington Post reported.
The National Day of Action was organized by teachers and multiple social justice organizations to raise awareness about the legislation and let lawmakers know that they won’t be silent about the curriculum restrictions.
“We, the undersigned educators, refuse to lie to young people about US history and current events –– regardless of the law,” a pledge signed by thousands of teachers reads.
Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, schools and educational institutions have attempted to include more lessons on systemic racism, a move that prompted conservative lawmakers at the state and federal levels to impose restrictions on classroom lessons involving critical race theory.
“I will say it’s already playing out,” sixth-grade Iowa teacher Monique Cottman said in an interview with Jesse Hagopian, a Seattle high school teacher and co-founder of Black Lives Matter at School.
“The white teachers who started doing a little bit more teaching about race and racism are now going back to their old way of teaching,” Cottman said. “I’ve had conversations with teachers who said things like, ‘I’m getting so much pushback for teaching Alice Walker, I’m going to go back to teaching what I used to teach.’
So all the teachers who would have done a little bit of what I was doing –– anti-racism work and culturally responsive teaching –– they’re not going to do anything next year. They’re already declaring, ‘I’m not doing nothing,’ or ‘It’s not safe,’ or ‘I don’t want to lose my job.’”
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, signed a law this week banning critical race theory in classrooms.
Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, described the curriculum restrictions as dangerous.
“No matter our color, background, or Zip code, we want our kids to have an education that imparts honesty about who we are, integrity in how we treat others, and courage to do what’s right,” Pringle said in a statement to The Post. “But some lawmakers want to play politics with the truth and do more than that.”