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Under the combined influence of Donald Trump and Governor Gregg Abbott, a considerable number of Texas parents have become convinced that their public schools have become hotbeds of Marxism and malignant “critical race theory.” Any discussion of racism is interpreted to mean CRT. Opponents of CRT oppose any recognition of racism in the past or present. This story in The Texas Monthly documents the mass hysteria now sweeping the Republican Party.
It describes a meeting in one of the state’s most successful schools: high test scores, high graduation rates, high college acceptance rates, award-wining teams. Yet the parents are furious because the school hired a diversity consultant from Trachers College, Columbia University!
About 99 percent of the 2021 senior class at Westlake High School was accepted to college, superintendent Tom Leonard tells the audience at the June 22 meeting of Eanes’s board, recapping another year of high achievement. The robotics team won a state championship, he adds, which could improve the school’s third-place standing in the Lone Star Cup, awarded to the state’s winningest schools. Westlake also won a state football championship, and the boys’ golf team won state too, as it has four years running. By the standards of Texas public schools, Eanes is an idyll.
Soon after Leonard stops speaking, however, loud yelling commences, and it continues for the better part of an hour. According to most of the 38 people who have come to give public testimony, the district’s schools have become beholden to “post-Marxist critical theory,” as one speaker puts it—“an updated version of Marxism focusing on differences between people.” The school board, says another, has opened the doors of Eanes to “antifa and BLM,” forces that “salivate after war” and “burn down” communities.
On the agenda today are two items that might seem unlikely reasons to go to battle. One is the contract of Mark Gooden, a professor at the Teachers College at Columbia University, in New York City, and, since 2020, the diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant for Eanes. The second is a rewrite of the district’s mission statement. After workshopping the document for more than a year, the board had settled on “Unite. Empower. Inspire . . . Every Person, Every Day.”
The angry parents are certain that these two items are evidence that the district has become “woke,” even anti-white.”