Yes, you read the headline correctly. On Monday, the Joint Committee on Education in Missouri held a hearing that was focused on teaching race in schools. However, no Black teachers, scholars, parents or students were invited to testify during the closed hearing. According to a report from the Associated Press, the committee invited a number of critical race theory skeptics and an official from Missouri’s education department to testify. After learning of the hearing, Missouri NAACP President Rod Chapel was infuriated. He said it was “ridiculous” to have a hearing about teaching race in school while “excluding the very people who are saying we’ve been treated inequitably.”
“That talks more to the kind of hearing that they wanted to have than the information that they wanted to gather,” Chapel added.
“They wanted to hear from their friends who were going to support their political talking points.”
State Senator Cindy O’Laughlin pushed back against Chapel's complaints. She claims that the hearing was to highlight the voices of parents who were skeptical about teaching critical race theory in schools, but were ignored by their local officials. In addition, O'Laughlin alleges that she invited an associate professor, who specializes in teaching Black history, to testify.
“I felt today it was important to hear from people who have tried to go through the official cycle of authority within their districts and have basically been turned away,” O'Laughlin explained.
Former Missouri teacher Heather Fleming was not buying O'Laughlin's explanation. She said that she knew about the hearing and wanted to testify, but was denied the opportunity to do so.
“You’re talking about us, without us," Fleming said.
“What not having any African Americans in the room really showed was that this wasn’t really about understanding."
Moving forward, O'Laughlin claims that there will be more hearings that are open to a wider group of attendees.