Education

‘Antiracist Audit’ Reassures Parents That School District ‘Does Not Teach Or Promote Critical Race Theory’

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Kendall Tietz Education Reporter
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  • Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will issue an “Antiracist System Audit” to all parents, guardians, staff and all 4th through 12th graders from March 1-31 to review “district policies and practices to understand the impact of race and racism,” according to a district announcement and a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
  • “Racial disparities can be seen in almost every area of MCPS from reading levels, participation in higher level classes, graduation rates, suspension and discipline rates, and staffing,” according to the FAQs justification for the survey. The survey will ask questions about race, ethnicity, gender and languages spoken at home, according to the MCPS survey description. 
  • “I promise you that the Board of Education and MCPS leadership take these issues very seriously and we do look forward to soliciting and collecting your feedback to be utilized in an action plan moving forward,” Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight said in a video that will be shown to students before taking the survey.

Maryland’s largest school district plans to issue an “antiracist” survey to students to “address racial barriers” in the school district,” according to an announcement from the district superintendent.

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will issue an “Antiracist System Audit” to all parents, guardians, staff and all 4th through 12th graders from March 1-31 to review “district policies and practices to understand the impact of race and racism,” according to a district announcement and a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Racial disparities can be seen in almost every area of MCPS from reading levels, participation in higher level classes, graduation rates, suspension and discipline rates, and staffing,” according to the FAQs justification for the survey. The survey will ask questions about race, ethnicity, gender and languages spoken at home, according to the MCPS survey description

MCPS said the survey will be anonymous, “age-appropriate” and on topics such as “attitudes about school and learning,” “learning about race” and “climate and safety.”

Students in elementary schools will be asked if they “have the opportunity to learn about people from different racial backgrounds in class” or feel they are “sometimes treated differently because of my race, skin color, ethnicity, or culture at school,” according to the MCPS survey description.

Students in middle school and high school will be asked if staff at their school make assumptions about their intelligence based on their racial identity, according to the survey description.

Parents and family members of MCPS students will be asked questions such as whether or not their “child’s school, the leaders of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and other parent groups represent families from diverse backgrounds, including race, ethnicity, culture, and language spoken at home” or whether or not administrators at their child’s school “address reports about bullying, discrimination, or harassment related to race, skin color, ethnicity, or culture between or among students,” according to the survey description.

Staff and administrators will be asked if their school “engages in culturally responsive ways with families from all racial, ethnic, cultural, and language groups represented in the MCPS community,” whether or not “academic progress data are regularly disaggregated, analyzed, and discussed by different racial, ethnic, and language groups” and whether data is used to “inform instructional practices that eliminate predictability in student achievement by race and ethnicity.”

Culturally responsive teaching is often associated with Critical Race Theory (CRT), which the district has denied it teaches.

MCPS stated that it “does not teach or promote Critical Race Theory curriculum,” according to the FAQs. “We encourage all students to consider the past, examine their present, and work to be allies with one another to make a better future free from the racist practices, attitudes, and systems of the past,” the district said. 

CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.

MCPS said it strives to serve “as an antiracist school system and environment for all,” according to an announcement from Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight included in a video that will be shown to students before taking the survey.

“I promise you that the Board of Education and MCPS leadership take these issues very seriously and we do look forward to soliciting and collecting your feedback to be utilized in an action plan moving forward,” McKnight said in the video.

The district defines “antiracism” as the practice of “working to ensure racial justice by identifying, interrupting, and dismantling racist practices, policies, and attitudes that disproportionately harm communities of color.”

Ibram X. Kendi is a leading proponent of “antiracism” and the author of “How To Be an Antiracist.” Kendi defines an antiracist as “one who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.”

Kendi also argues “there is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups.”

The survey will be conducted by the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (MAEC), Inc., a nonprofit that has raked in millions of dollars through contracts with school districts across the country, according to data compiled by Parents Defending Education (PDE).

The school district first proposed a “systemwide anti-racist audit” in October 2020, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

MCPS spent over $450,000 on an “anti-racist audit” as part of its partnership with MAEC for the 2020-21 school year, according to a copy of the school district’s “tentative action policy” obtained by the Daily Wire. (RELATED: School District Backpedals Middle School Curriculum That Asked Students To List Their Favorite Sex Acts Like Pizza Toppings)

Parents are allowed to opt their child out of the survey by completing a form by Feb. 21.

Findings of the audit will be shared with the community by June, and action plans will be developed over the summer. Some actions the district might take include “funding and staffing changes, policy revisions, new training, and changes to employee performance standards,” according to the FAQs. 

“Over the last few years, some students, staff and community members have shared experiences of being treated differently because of their racial, ethnic or cultural backgrounds,” Hana O’Looney, a student member of the MCPS Board of Education said in a video about the survey. “To address this need, an anti-racist audit was developed to identify those disparities. This means we are researching the problems so that we can understand how to make things better.”

When reached for comment, MCPS directed the Daily Caller News Foundation to McKnight’s statement.

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