Communities In Schools® (CIS™) Challenges Proposed Federal and State Bans on Teaching Anti-Racism
CIS joins educators and academics in calling on lawmakers at the state and federal level to reject bills limiting how public schools teach students about the history of racism in America.
Arlington, Va. – June 1, 2021 - The Communities In Schools® (CIS™) National Office joins teachers and leading academic scholars from across the country in criticizing proposed legislation that would ban public schools from teaching students about anti-racism.
Multiple legislatures and members of Congress are considering controversial bills that would limit teachers from helping students understand the history of racism in America and how it shapes our country today. The proposed pieces of legislation specifically address the use of critical race theory in the classroom. Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework used by academics to explain that systemic racism has long been a part of American society and has given rise to laws, policies and systems that continue to create barriers that limit the rights and privileges of people of color.
Communities In Schools compares these controversial bills to the same effort used by the prior administration when it sought to ban anti-racism trainings in federal agencies – a policy which CIS also spoke out against forcefully.
Communities In Schools is particularly concerned because several of the states considering these bans on teaching anti-racism in the classroom are places where CIS affiliates are located.
“The history of CIS is rooted in social justice,” said CIS National President and CEO Rey Saldaña. “For more than four decades, our network of affiliates has worked to eliminate systemic racial barriers in education because the majority of the young people we serve are students of color. Our National Board, CIS Network and staff are committed to building an equitable path to education for all students. So we feel compelled to raise our voice in support of the effective teaching and practices of anti-racism in our nation's schools.”
Communities In Schools Chief Operating & Equity Officer Steven McCullough said teachers should have the freedom to select the methodology to combat racism and called the bills an attempt to silence ideas, conversations, and historical context that would limit the ability to improve conditions for people of color across the country for generations to come.
“Some lawmakers have seized on the decades-old academic term critical race theory and distorted its context to advance false arguments,” said McCullough. “CRT does not advocate teaching students or anyone that one race is superior or inferior to another. Nor does it blame students and claim that they are responsible for the past actions of people who share the same ethnicity. But it does challenge everyone’s role in acknowledging that racism exists and asks what they are doing to help eliminate it.”
Communities In Schools has a strong obligation to directly confront this issue because of its model of working inside schools, alongside educators, to help students break down any barriers to learning in and out the classroom – including systemic racism. CIS considers the misleading rhetoric surrounding critical race theory to also be contrary to its organizational values and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Attempts to mute student thought, stifle the voices of teachers or cut off critical discussion in the classroom is what is truly un-American,” said McCullough. “Moreover, it prevents our young people from talking about the difficult chapters in our nation’s history and impacts their ability to heal from intergenerational trauma. We must build an informed, empowered and engaged generation of students who understand their history and are equipped to talk about the challenges of racism in order to build stronger communities.”
About Communities In Schools
Communities In Schools® (CIS™) is a national organization that ensures every student, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic background has what they need to realize their potential in school and beyond. Working directly inside more than 2,900 schools across the country, we connect students to caring adults and community resources that help them see, confront, and overcome the barriers that stand between them and a brighter future.Together, we build a powerful change movement made up of peers, students, and alumni committed to building an equitable path to education for future generations.
CIS Belief Statement
Communities In Schools ® believes that transformative relationships are the key to unlocking a student's potential. We will succeed by including in our strategies, ingraining in our culture, and reflecting in our behaviors, principles and practices of diversity, equity and inclusion. As a result, we break down immediate and systemic barriers to create and sustain equitable outcomes.