Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt, a Republican from New Windsor who represents the towns of Wawayanda, Goshen, Hamptonburgh, Chester, Blooming Grove, New Windsor, Cornwall, Highlands and Woodbury, said he will introduce legislation in the State Assembly to ban critical race theory and its concepts from being taught in New York State schools.
Critical race theory “sets us back and says that race and the color of our skin is the most important thing and is what defines us and determines our future,” Schmitt said in a press release detailing his intentions. “Nothing could be further from the truth and could not be more un-American.
“I have heard from many concerned parents, families and educators across the Hudson Valley and across the state worried about our students, what they could be taught and what it means for the future,” added Schmitt, who is raising funds to challenge U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat, in 2022. “After a year of students learning from home and parents seeing firsthand what their children are learning, they have grave concerns over these concepts and what is being incorporated into their education.
What is Critical Race Theory?
A May 2021 article in the online periodical Education Week begins to define Critical Race Theory this way:
“Is ‘critical race theory’ a way of understanding how American racism has shaped public policy, or a divisive discourse that pits people of color against white people? Liberals and conservatives are in sharp disagreement.
“The topic has exploded in the public arena this spring — especially in K-12, where numerous state legislatures are debating bills seeking to ban its use in the classroom.
“In truth, the divides are not nearly as neat as they may seem. The events of the last decade have increased public awareness about things like housing segregation, the impacts of criminal justice policy in the 1990s, and the legacy of enslavement on Black Americans. But there is much less consensus on what the government’s role should be in righting these past wrongs. Add children and schooling into the mix and the debate becomes especially volatile.”
NYS Regents: CRT will not be taught in the state
Critical Race Theory is an academic concept, meaning it is open to debate as well as exploration, primarily on the collegiate level.
The New York State Board of Regents has said CRT will not be taught in New York State schools.
That does not preclude individual districts from creating curriculum that addresses diversity, equity as well as the social events of the day and how our nation arrived at these moments.
‘CRT sets us back’
In his presentation, Schmitt said: “CRT sets us back and says that race and the color of our skin is the most important thing and is what defines us and determines our future — nothing could be further from the truth and could not be more un-American. CRT requires students to take part in a course that teaches individuals to discriminate against or receive differential treatment based solely or partially on the individual’s race. CRT attacks all of our society, laws, institutions, and all of American existence — CRT is set up to indoctrinate our young students, no matter who you are, what you look like, what you believe, where you come from, what your parents’ jobs are — in America you can achieve anything you want. You can live your American dream. This ‘American Dream’ concept, since our nation’s founding, has propelled generation after generation to do better, dream bigger, and reach further. This ideal is under attack and is deconstructed by CRT.”
American Bar Association
According to an article, “A Lesson on Critical Race Theory,” by Janel George for the American Bar Association:
“In September 2020, President Trump issued an executive order excluding from federal contracts any diversity and inclusion training interpreted as containing ‘Divisive Concepts,’ ‘Race or Sex Stereotyping,’ and ‘Race or Sex Scapegoating.’ Among the content considered ‘divisive’ is Critical Race Theory (CRT). In response, the African American Policy Forum, led by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, launched the #TruthBeTold campaign to expose the harm that the order poses. Reports indicate that over 300 diversity and inclusion trainings have been canceled as a result of the order. And over 120 civil rights organizations and allies signed a letter condemning the executive order. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the National Urban League (NUL) and the National Fair Housing Alliance filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the executive order violates the guarantees of free speech, equal protection, and due process. “
Middletown School Board member Nicole Hewson, an educator and concerned parent, said: “As Martin Luther King Jr. stated: ‘We should be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character’. I believe that racism cannot be overcome with more racism. Teaching kids to hate one another, that children are victims or oppressors, is not the way to go about making change. I believe teaching acts of mercy, kindness, compassion, empathy, understanding, will be how we accomplish positive change. Our students deserve better.”
Ciara Irizarry of Cornwall, added: “As a parent, I am greatly concerned that our school system is under attack by political ideologies rather than factual historical events. We need to teach kindness and empathy, not divisive theories. I want to thank Assemblyman Schmitt for fighting for all of us parents as we navigate our way through the process of ensuring our children are protected and have the opportunity to learn in an environment free from politics and division.”
“CRT fundamentally seeks to destroy our laws, systems, and institutions that have created the America we know, the America where anyone can achieve anything,” Schmitt said. “It rewrites history and provides false history and false narrative on our most impressionable youth.”