A Missouri legislative committee held a hearing on Monday on how educators teach K-12 students about race and racism without hearing any black Missourians.
No black parent, teacher or academic testified before the Joint Education Committee at the invitation-only hearing on Critical Race Theory.
Aside from an official with the Missouri Department of Education, the only people who testified on Monday were critics of Critical Race Theory, which is a way of thinking about American history through the lens of the racism.
Missouri NAACP President Rod Chapel called it “ridiculous” to have a conversation about inequity while “excluding the very people who say we have been treated unfairly.”
“It’s more about the type of audience they wanted to have than information they wanted to gather,” Chapel told reporters after the hearing. “They wanted to hear from their friends who were going to support their political arguments. “
Republican Senator Cindy O’Laughlin, who heads the committee, said she wanted to use the hearing to highlight the voices of parents unhappy with critical race theory who said local school officials ignored their complaints.
“I felt today that it was important to hear from people who tried to go through the official cycle of authority within their districts and who were basically turned away,” she said. to committee members.
O’Laughlin said she also invited an associate professor of education specializing in black history, but he declined to testify.
She said there would be more critical race theory committee hearings and more opportunities for the public to speak out.
“I’m sure this won’t be the last conversation,” she said.
Heather Fleming, a former Missouri teacher who now offers diversity and inclusion training, said she wanted to testify on Monday but was not allowed. She said without any African Americans involved in the discussion, “you talk about us, without us.”
“What not having African Americans in the room really showed was that it wasn’t really about understanding,” Fleming said.
Researchers developed a critical theory of race during the 1970s and 1980s in response to what they saw as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.
It has recently become a political lightning rod.
Many Republicans view the concepts behind Critical Race Theory as an effort to rewrite American history and persuade whites that they are inherently racist and should feel guilty because of their advantages.
“Some students have serious emotional problems with CRT, or social justice, concepts taught in our schools,” Katie Rash, leader of the Missouri section of No Left Turn in Education, told the committee on Monday.