An update on my prior letter to HCP and the question of whether Critical Race Theory and/or “woke political indoctrination” is or is not being taught in K-12 schools nationally or in the Watauga Public Schools.
Many people contend that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is not actually being taught in K-12 schools nationally. But a national survey study conducted by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, published in the City Journal, strongly suggests otherwise. Clear majorities of those very young student respondents said that K-12 teachers, and school officials / adults had informed them about several of the concepts of CRT, such as “there are many genders”, “Gender identity is a choice regardless of biological sex”, “America is a systemically racist country”, “white people have white privilege”, and “Discrimination is the main reason for differences in wealth between races or genders”. The study authors, Zachary Goldberg and Eric Kaufmann, conclude that the major concepts of CRT clearly are being taught on a widespread basis in K-12 schools nationally.
CRT is also clearly being taught in the Watauga County Schools. In his letters to the HCP dated August 10, 22 and 30, Mark Murphy described his investigation into many of the articles from the Newsela, the nationally computerized “news” service purchased by the Watauga Board of Education for use in the Watauga schools during 2021 and 2022. Murphy collected many quotes from many Newsela articles that do in fact teach the various concepts of CRT to K-12 students. In September, Murphy sent copies of his factual quotes to the High Country Press, Watauga Democrat, and Watauga BOE. Murphy spoke to the BOE about what he had found at their September 12 meeting, but the BOE has made no response to Murphy at all.
In a personal response to Murphy in the HCP August 22, Jay Fenwick, a current member of the Watauga BOE who is currently running for re-election, Fenwick defended the Newsela materials, saying “they are used in 90% of schools, by 2 million teachers and 25 million students nationwide”. He also characterized Murphy and the readers of the High Country Press as “extremists”. In his statements at the Candidate’s Forum and in his responses to the Watauga Democrat and other forums, Fenwick himself used the common fallacy of appealing to the extreme, contending that CRT and woke political indoctrination are being taught in Watauga as “Conspiracy Theories.”
One must wonder if Fenwick is Gaslighting the good people who send their children to Watauga Schools. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a person or group causes someone to question their own sanity, memories, or perception of reality. After all, Fenwick has a vested interest in having you think he and his board buddies are doing a great job… even if the opposite is true.
I have met Dr. Murphy and examined his evidence. From that evidence I can attest that CRT and woke indoctrination are, in fact, being taught in Watauga County Schools. Murphy is no “extremist” as Fenwick has claimed. And personally, as the father of a young mixed-race boy and mixed-race girl, I do not want them taught CRT and/or woke political indoctrination. I think teaching innocent young people to hate each other or characterize each other solely on the basis of race and sex is absolutely wrong and needs to stop. I want my children taught basics like ABCs, not CRT!
Terry Oldham – Boone, NC