Virginia parents have come out and condemned an “anti-racism” curriculum that is currently part of a middle school pilot program, stating that it is “Marxist” and “only creates resentment” during a school board meeting that took place on Thursday.
Albemarle County Public Schools introduced the curriculum, which is called Courageous Conversations About Race between the months of May and June for all grades at Henley Middle School. The district leaders actually approved the program back in February of 2019. It includes discussions on race, white privilege, bias, and trans issues. However, many parents have billed the curriculum as “critical race theory.”
“What I see now really, truly scares me — what’s going on in tax-supported schools here in Albemarle County,” said David Wallace, who stated he is a veteran, teaches classes at a private school, and also served as a law enforcement officer for 22 years. “CRT is a Marxist program that is hell-bent on isolating, dividing, and diminishing our ability to work together as a community, and if you bring forth this policy, it will destroy our community even more and fragment it even more then it is right now.”
“I don’t hate anybody — I spent my time defending my Constitution, my citizens, and my community. I love people of all colors, all religions, all backgrounds, so to adopt policies that are going to be detrimental to our young women, our young men — we cannot let that stand. We must work together as a community,” Wallace stated.
Daniel Mais, a father of two children in the district, said teaching “anti-racism, white privilege, and the other ideas of critical race theory” only “creates resentment and division and serves no good purpose.”
“Despite ACPS’ good intentions with the implementation of its anti-racism policy, Courageous Conversations, and culturally responsible teaching, I strongly disagree with its methods of fighting discrimination with more discrimination,” Mais said during the meeting with school board members on Thursday. “Children should be taught that personal responsibility and hard work and effort is the key to a good life and that race is not a factor.”
Marie Mierzejewski went on to slam the school’s “liberal agenda.”
“I’m never for discrimination of any kind. I have a sibling … that would not fall … into the white, cisgender category,” she stated with conviction. “I am not racist, I’m not a bigot, I’m not any of those things, however, I may not subscribe to the same liberal ideology that many of the people that are OK with this liberal agenda are for.”
More than 400 parents signed a petition to remove Courageous Conversations from the district’s docket. They demanded the school conduct “open, public surveys” to approve aspects of the course and urged board members to conduct a “comprehensive, balanced analysis” of the proposal.
“As diverse members of the Albemarle County community, we join our neighbors in vehemently supporting a learning environment for our children that is free from discrimination, hate, exclusion and bullying of any kind,” the online form clearly stated. “We are concerned about the new Courageous Conversations program being piloted at Henley Middle School, and whether it is the right way to achieve the above goals we are all united in supporting.”
After dozens of parents spoke out against the methods, the school board employed a lottery system July 1 to limit public comment on the matter ahead of the Thursday meeting. If the number of parents exceeded 40, the lottery was to be used.
“Historically, school board agendas have set aside 30 minutes to hear public comments during business meetings, with each speaker provided up to three minutes,” the board went on to say at the time. “This allows for as many as 10 speakers. In recent meetings, however, the number of requests from people wishing to address the board during a meeting has exceeded two and three times that number, extending well into the time set aside to review or vote on business agenda items.”