What is Critical Race Theory? OSU expert explains amid Springfield High controversy

Some students at Springfield High School were asked to write an assignment surrounding a topic of social injustice, but some parents think it was about Critical Race Theory.

Posted: Jun 15, 2021 7:04 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- After a recent Springfield High School writing assignment caused controversy in the community, experts are explaining what exactly Critical Race Theory is.

Students in the English 10 class were asked to write about a social injustice topic of their choosing, and yesterday the Springfield School Board received dozens of comments on the subject. Some parents said the assignment was correlated to Critical Race Theory. 

However, teacher Kyle Johnson said Critical Race Theory isn't part of the curriculum and the annual assignment asks sutdents to use rhetorical techniques to "express a claim on a topic of injustice that they choose." 

MORE: WRITING ASSIGNMENT INDIRECTLY STARTS CONVERSATION ABOUT CRITICAL RACE THEORY

KEZI 9 News talked to Christopher Stout, an associate professor at Oregon State University, to learn more. 

Critical Race Theory was developed in the 1970s as a way to analyze perceived racial injustices in both legal and political aspects. Stout said the focus is to explain inequality in today's world. 

"And the argument was that the legal system and the political system itself has some type of racially biased background which then leads to some racial inequality in society," said Stout. 

Stout also said there are still common misconceptions surrounding the idea of CRT. 

"There are lots of social injustices in this country. Class injustice, gender injustice, religious injustice and the list goes on and on and on. So discussing any type of injustice isn't necessarly racial injustice," said Stout. 

Some parents supported more education on race, but others said it had no place in schools. One parent said children aren't racist and they don't see color. In another comment, a family shared their support. 

"These sorts of conversations and assignments build a more just, equitable, and safe community for all children and families," said the family. 

There are also some experts who say they are in support of CRT being taught in schools. Dwaine Plaza, a professor at OSU, believes students should be taught CRT. 

"And the reality is that it's not divisive, it's clearly trying to address the misinformation about the whole motion of American history," said Plaza. 

Eugene School District 4J and the Bethel and Springfield school districts all say they don't teach Critical Race Theory. 

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