Legislation was just introduced in the PA General Assembly that would prevent teaching Critical Race Theory in schools

July 16 – Critical Race Theory is a concept that’s been getting an incredible amount of national traction recently.

Critical Race Theory is actually a concept that essentially says that race is a social construct and that racism isn’t something that’s based on a personal bias, but is actually deeply embedded in people, legal systems and policies.

A lot of these concepts are being brought into the public school system – sometimes quite surreptitiously.

Representative Paul Schemel joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen this morning on First News to discuss legislation that would ban Critical Race Theory in PA schools.

Schemel said the legislation would “prevent the dissemination of Critical Race Theory in its purest form, this concept that one race is responsible for all the ills of another and that type of thing. It’s based upon what I think the state of Texas did. It’s a delicate issue. We have to be careful as a government when we do things in any way that curtail speech or thought or ideas. We should be a nation of free ideas, whether they’re good or bad, crazy ideas, even. That’s how we thrive. That’s how we vet ideas.”

Schemel thinks the legislation is fairly narrowly tailored.

Jansen said, “It’s just this idea and it seems like a lot of people, educators included, don’t have a full grasp of what this is and I think unfortunately the people who really know what this is and want to push it, that’s kind of by design. They don’t really want you to understand all the history of it or where it all comes from because it all sounds very nice on the surface. You’re trying to be kind, you’re trying to be sensitive, you’re trying to teach people to be culturally sensitive. Unfortunately, when you get into the nitty gritty of it, you see where they are using collectivism and branding whole groups of people based on race with certain characteristics and teaching that as fact. That’s the problem.”

Schemel said, “It’s teaching race as a zero sum game. That one race has advanced at the expense of other races. It’s actually antithetical to everything that Reverend Martin Luther King taught which was that we all rise together that we are all held down when we’re not allowed to all rise together. That is equality. This teaching seems to be based more on you’ve had one race is kept down, that’s why the other races haven’t been able to succeed and now it’s their turn to succeed and they succeed by making sure that the dominant race is not able to succeed. That’s what a lot of people now term equity. They believe it’s equitable for another group to get its turn but it’s antithetical really to American ideals that we all rise together.”

Ryan pointed out, “The educators out there that are pushing this and don’t seem to have a grasp on it, I think we’re missing something very important here because the minute you call out someone about that, the minute you call out some PhD on the idea of no you don’t get what you’re saying here, have you really researched it? You don’t get what’s happening here in front of you. You’re all surface. You’re all show. You don’t have a depth of grasp here. There’s a critical race theory seminar which I would encourage anybody on the school board to visit this.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Critical Race Theory is welcome to attend a presentation at Antrim Brethren in Christ Church at 6 p.m. this Sunday. 

Ryan said, “If you really are invested in children, then get involved with this because it’s just poison otherwise.”

Jansen added, “It’s their responsibility to understand this. I said to them if you say I’m wrong, you’re not teaching Critical Race Theory here in Chambersburg Area School District or you’re not training your teachers in it, what is your definition of Critical Race Theory? And I got crickets.”

Schemel said, “I think we all need to be vested in what’s being taught to our kids. A lot of things are put in front of teachers, there’s a lot of training that they have to undergo and if this stuff is sort of being snuck in as part of a larger program, that’s slowly how these concepts make it into our educational system.”

Jansen said, “I’m reading Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. I would ask teachers, educate yourselves. Read the pro stuff. Read the con stuff. Don’t just say well, my program, my educational development program is saying these concepts are good. You don’t know that until you look at where they come from. I’ve been noticing the Wolf administration has been slipping these ideas into all of their different departments.”

PennDOT has also been doing it with a study on systemic racism within the transportation system in PA, but they haven’t defined Critical Race Theory or found anywhere that there are impacts.

Schemel pointed out, “Well remember this is a government study. So it’s a government study that recommends that there be more government studies. It’s dismantling systemic racism in our public transportation system. So if you didn’t know that, that your roads are racist and maybe have racist origins and you should feel bad about driving on them, then now you can. So thank you very much Governor Wolf for that useful information.”

The report has no data. It says that there are disparities in the companies that contract with PennDOT. There are not enough black owned businesses. They actually say that there are an over-representation of Hispanic or Latino owned businesses.

But the report doesn’t look into why any of that is.

Schemel said, “We’re not looking at a person and saying what are their qualifications? What is the nature of their character? As Martin Luther King would say. Instead we’re looking just at their skin color.”

Additionally if there is systemic racism in the state and has been for years, why has it taken this long to discover the issue?