A CALL TO ACTION: FEDERAL: DON’T TAKE A VICTORY LAP YET ON DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION'S CRT PLANS!

The Department of Education has given itself a sort of “get-out-of jail free” card that it can play whenever it has enough money to do so!  Don’t be fooled by what the Department of Education has done!  It has done absolutely nothing!

On April 20, 2021, the Greater Greensboro Republican Women’s Club (GGRWC) Blog posted this:  Federal Register:  Your Children and Grandchildren are Racists and Washington is Here to Help!  This blog informed readers of the Department of Education’s plan—its priorities—of granting funding to organizations that proposed critical race theory (CRT) curricula into the nation’s schools at all levels.  The blog asked its readers to submit a comment or two on these priorities no later than May 19,2021.  Then, again, on May 4th on the Blog:  Action Deadline – Critical Race Theory, readers were reminded of the May 19th deadline for submitting comments.

Well, submit comments you did, and how!  Some thirty-five thousand comments were submitted!  Yes, that number is correct!  35,000!  (See Jonathan Butcher, Federal Education Officials Backpedal on Pushing Critical Race Theory in Schools, dailysignal.com, July 20, 2021.)  The headlines indicate the Department of Education decided it wasn’t worth the bother.  On this basis, congratulations are in order to the 35,000 commenters!

Not so fast!  I have a different take on what has happened, and it is not good.

Either, the Department of Education underestimated the concerns of parents, grandparents, and others about the racist divide CRT creates or the Department of Education simply did not want to wade through 35,000 comments, sort and group them, and publish its responses to each criticism levied at what it has proposed, including the charge that CRT is unconstitutional and violates the Civil Rights Act. I suggest a little of both!  The Department of Education is thought to have backed down.  But not really.  It still wants its cake and to be able to eat it too!

What did it do?  On July 16, 2021, the Secretary of Education issued a statement notifying all that its CRT grant funding priority proposals 1 and 2 would be “invitational priorities” only and that “no competitive advantage or absolute preference” would be given to any such proposals. 

Invitational Priorities: For FY 2021 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, these priorities are invitational priorities. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(1) we do not give an application that meets these invitational priorities a competitive or absolute preference over other applications.

(See Volume 86, Federal Register, pages 38061-38066, July 19, 2021.)

What does this actually mean?  I think it basically means the Department of Education can still make awards to any one of the invitational priority proposals, including those invitational proposals that propose CRT curricula, if funds are available, after all of the “absolute” and “competitive preference” proposals have been funded.  Why do I think this?

Here’s a reminder of what the pre-May 19, 2021 grant funding notice provided:

Proposed Priority 1—Projects That Incorporate Racially, Ethnically, Culturally, and Linguistically Diverse Perspectives into Teaching and Learning

Under this priority, the grant applicants would propose projects that incorporate teaching and learning practices that reflect the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences of all students create inclusive, supportive, and identity-safe learning environments.  In its application, the grant applicant must describe how its proposed project incorporates teaching and learning practices that—

  1. a) Take into account systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history;

(b) Incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives and perspectives on the experience of individuals with disabilities;

(c) Encourage students to critically analyze the diverse perspectives of historical and contemporary media and its impacts;

(d) Support the creation of learning environments that validate and reflect the diversity, identities, and experiences of all students; and

(e) Contribute to inclusive, supportive, and identity-safe learning environments.

Proposed Priority 2—Promoting Information Literacy Skills

Under this priority, the grant applicants would propose projects that describe how they will foster critical thinking and promote student engagement in civics education through professional development or other activities designed to support students in—

(a) Evaluating sources and evidence using standards of proof;

(b) Understanding their own biases when reviewing information, as well as uncovering and recognizing bias in primary and secondary sources;

(c) Synthesizing information into cogent communications; and

(d) Understanding how inaccurate information may be used to manipulate individuals, and developing strategies to recognize accurate and inaccurate information.

What changed after the submission of these 35,000 comments?  Only one thing:  the funding proposals are now invitational only.  The Department did not back off on either of these priorities.  It just rearranged them, like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic!

In its initial notice back in April 2021, the Department of Education did not assign a priority—absolute, competitive preference, or invitational—indicating it would do so after comments were received.  Did the Department expect opposition and want to hedge its bet?  You bet it did! 

Now, a number of conservative blogs appear to believe that the Department of Education has thrown in the towel and backed off providing grant funding for CRT.  It has done no such thing!  The Department of Education still intends to fund CRT and have it implemented in the nation’s schools, but maybe not this year. What about next year, and the year after that?  After all, the July 19, 2021 notice did warn us that it could do this –

Invitational Priorities: “For FY 2021 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, these priorities are invitational priorities.”

The Department of Education has given itself a sort of “get-out-of jail free” card that it can play whenever it has enough money to do so!  Don’t be fooled by what the Department of Education has done!  It has done absolutely nothing!

The new deadlines in the July 2021 notice are as follows:

  1. Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: August 18, 2021.
  2. Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: August 18, 2021.
  3. Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: October 4, 2021.

However, there is no deadline for submitting comments on this new July 19, 2021 notice of grant funding! But that should not stop us!

I propose we continue our opposition to this travesty by the Department of Education.  I propose another 35,000 letter and comment campaign.  I propose a Friday, August 13, 2021 deadline for submission of new comments on the changes, such as they are.  I propose that we alert the Department of Education that we are strongly against CRT being taught in our schools and we don’t want taxpayer money funding it.  We see through what they have done!

Send your comments to: 

 Diana Schneider, Program Contact

American History and Civics Academies

U.S. Department of Education, OESE

400 Maryland Ave., SW

Washington D.C. 20202-6244

or

Email:  [email protected] [email protected]

Phone:  202-401-1456

We must be ever vigilant!  We must never give us!  Resistance is never futile!  We’re not done yet!

Notify your family members, friends, and acquaintances!  Let’s take action!

I hope this is of value!

Demetria Carter

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  • Amanda Mercer
    published this page in Blog 2021-07-22 14:40:59 -0400