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Writing assignment indirectly starts conversation about Critical Race Theory being taught at SHS

Students in English 10 at Springfield High School were assigned to write about a topic involving injustice.

Posted: Jun 15, 2021 3:09 AM
Updated: Jun 15, 2021 10:17 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- A recent Springfield High School writing assignment caused some controversy in the community, but teachers said it was misinterpreted.

Students in English 10 at Springfield High School were assigned to write about a topic involving injustice. However, some parents saw this as the school teaching Critical Race Theory.

Kyle Johnson, who teaches the class, says Critical Race Theory is not part of the curriculum. He wrote to the Springfield School Board that the assignment is given out every year. Students are given the task to use rhetorical techniques to "express a claim on a topic of injustice that they choose." Johnson said students were given examples but they were never required to write to those specific examples. 

Regardless, this assignment did start a conversation about teaching the history of racism in schools. According to the American Bar Association, Critical Race Theory recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society and challenges the beliefs that allow it to flourish. States like Idaho and Tennessee have banned it from being taught in their public schools.

Johnson told the board in his public comment that Critical Race Theory is not part of Oregon's curriculum. The writing assignment that's been called into question is aligned with Common Core Standards.

Some parents believe the history of racism and racism in the 21st century should not be taught. They wrote in the public comment they believe it's racist. One parent wrote, "It is wrong to put children in a position where they have to judge themselves and their fellow students as either victims or perpetrators based on the color of their skin."

Derrick Bryant has one biracial son at Springfield High School and he said what needs to be taught is working hard and setting goals to succeed in life.

"So it's not about racism that gets you through life, it's about working hard, being honest surrounding yourself with good people, making good choices, and more than likely your life will have a better outcome," Bryant said.

Other parents however called on the district to implement teaching Critical Race Theory. These parents argued that Critical Race Theory will give students a more well-rounded education. One parent wrote, "Critical Race Theory is just teaching an accurate version of American history, over a watered-down whitewashed version. Our kids deserve to learn accurate history over American Mythos, and come to conclusions on their own."

KEZI reached out to the school district for comment Monday night, but didn't hear back.

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