A costly course on critical race theory
Education | School district pays big bucks to controversial author
by Laura Edghill
Posted 10/07/20, 05:51 pm
Is spending tens of thousands of dollars to bring in a well-known critical race theorist a valid use of taxpayer funds? Some Virginians took issue with Fairfax County Public Schools’ decision to fund a one-hour virtual conversation with author Ibram X. Kendi and purchase his books just before the start of the new school year. The August event cost the district $20,000, and the price of the accompanying stack of his books, many of which were earmarked for use in high school history classes, came in at $24,000. The total bill fell just shy of a first-year teacher’s salary in the Washington-area school district.
School officials invited the bestselling author as part of a statewide “Virginia Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week.” Kendi exhorts people to become “anti-racist” to dismantle what he calls structural racist inequalities. He explained his theories in 2017’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and its 2020 remix, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, both of which earned spots on The New York Times bestseller list.
The talk alone ran taxpayers $333.33 per minute, writer and district parent Asra Nomani calculated.
“We should all care because there is a lot wrong with critical race theory,” she wrote. Nomani criticized the event, calling it indoctrination and decrying it for pitting school staff and students against one another. The investigative journalist also pointed out the irony that the district paid to bring in the controversial Kendi to talk about his theories on improving the treatment of marginalized people while the school system’s own Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee reported it needed an additional $50,000 annually to get valuable resources into the hands of thousands of vulnerable minority families.
While public school districts receive federal funding, they are not affected by the memo released by President Donald Trump last month that bars federal agencies from spending for training programs based on critical race theory or other content steeped in the presumption of white privilege.
Read more Schooled Sign up for the Schooled email
Laura is an education correspondent for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Northwestern University graduate and serves as the communications director for her church. Laura resides with her husband and three sons in Clinton Township, Mich. Follow Laura on Twitter @LTEdghill.