Richland teacher threatened by Zinn’s education promise
A teacher from Richland refuses to back down after receiving threats for supporting what has become a controversial commitment.
Opinions differ on what Commitment of the Zinn educational project represented. For Kirsten Sierra, she supports teaching all parts of the story, including events that may make some people uncomfortable.
“I have Muslim families, Jewish families and a Hindu family,” she said. “I want all of our families to feel seen and recognized. ”
But the Freedom Foundation and other conservative groups see it as confirmation of their support for teaching a controversial academic concept of critical race theory.
This is how a man views the oath, threatening Sierra with this message: “Better get out of town before people show up in your classroom to get you out of town. “
“You won’t make it,” according to a screenshot of the message Ryan Olsen sent. “I would designate or tidy up your sheep paths.” We are going to FK YOU UP, ”he wrote.
Sierra, a Jason Lee Elementary librarian, reported the threat to the Kennewick Police Department and alerted school officials and the teachers’ union. She isn’t interested in criminal charges, but wants him and others to understand that people shouldn’t threaten others they don’t agree with.
“We can be courteous about it all. …. I have no problem with my beliefs being questioned, ”she said. “I’m not the type of person to be afraid of not doing the things I think are right.”
The Zinn Education Project supports the teaching of “people’s history” in the classroom. It is based on the work of Howard Zinn, an American historian, who wrote on the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, and labor history in the United States.
One of his most famous writings, A People’s History of the United States, tells the story of America from the perspectives of women, factory workers, blacks, Native Americans, working poor and immigrant workers.
The Zinn Education Project has been one of many hotbeds of criticism from conservatives who have placed it under the same umbrella as other educational programs focused on expanding what is taught in classrooms. class.
This includes The New York Times Project 1619, the Southern Poverty Law Center Learning for Justice Program, and the BLM at school.
Critics, such as Rep Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, argue that it’s really just a way to divide.
Collectively, opponents have said this falls under critical race theory. Likewise, they criticize training on diversity, equity and inclusion.
The idea is that racism is not just the result of a person’s prejudices or prejudices, but is also rooted in legal systems and policies where laws and court decisions may perpetuate it.
The question has mainly been examined in college courses and aims to understand why some people are treated differently, but does not teach that everyone should be treated differently because of their skin color, the researchers say.
In response to a slew of bills circulating across the United States, the Zinn Education Project released the pledge, criticizing what it sees as legislation to limit the teaching of the country’s history.
They point out that he does not name any lesson that is inaccurate or misleads students about events in US history.
“We, the undersigned educators, will not be intimidated,” says the pledge. “We will continue our commitment to developing critical thinking that helps students better understand the problems in our society and develop collective solutions to these problems. We are for the truth and the elevation of the power of organization and solidarity which pushes us towards a more just society.
The names on the pledge have been made public, but the list has since been withdrawn after critics started signing the pledge and adding negative comments.
While the engagement does not include or refer to the term Critical Race Theory, Ashley N. Varner, vice president of communications and federal affairs for the Liberty Foundation, said people can discuss the semantics, but it remains a “commitment from K-12 teachers to asking their students to judge people by their appearance, rather than their character content.”
The engagement attracted attention local radio, NewsTalk KFLD, who shared information about it online. Information on the two teachers from Tri-City seemed to be shared there.
The links to the list have now been removed.
Debate on Critical Race Theory
While the Freedom Foundation called the pledge a promise to teach critical race theory in the classroom, Sierra said it didn’t.
“We are not teaching critical race theory. We never taught critical race theory, ”she said. “We are trying to recognize things that have happened in the past.”
Similar concerns about teaching critical race theory in schools prompted the Richland School Board to pass a resolution explaining that employees are not trained to teach CRT.
The resolution said they are committed to increasing equity, cultural awareness, diversity and inclusion.
“These are our thoughts and values, collectively and individually,” said board chairman Rick Jansons in a statement after the vote. “This resolution and motion is intended to make clear the position of individual council and council members as we move forward in our work with our community and with the goal of correcting the many misunderstandings this council has heard in our community.”
Sierra told the Herald what she wanted to make sure everyone felt represented in the class.
She noted that the story she was taught in school glossed over some of the most uncomfortable moments in history, such as the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 and the Syphilis Study of the Service of United States Public Health in Tuskegee.
She pointed out that because she teaches children ages 5 to 11, many topics are not developmentally appropriate.
What she doesn’t want to see is the politics that prevent giving students of other ages all the information so they can make decisions.
“I want us to teach the truth and recognize the past,” she said.