APS discusses critical race theory at board meeting

Education

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Will critical race theory be taught in the largest school district in the state? The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education discussed the controversial topic at their board meeting Wednesday night.

APS said there are no changes expected to the curriculum in regard to critical race theory, leaving some wondering why it is being addressed. “CRT has become a national topic in the past few weeks,” Associate Superintendent Madelyn Serna Marmol said.

A new statement from APS on critical race theory is leaving some people confused. “Can you tell me how many people asked for this to be addressed?” board member Peggy Muller Aragon asked.

The statement said in part that the district encourages students to be critical thinkers, respect each other and respect various points of view. “So in saying this, did we not value diversity before?” Muller Aragon asked.

The statement goes on to say that the core idea of critical race theory is that racism is systemic or embedded in U.S. policies in the legal system, but superintendent Scott Elder said APS is not teaching CRT. “I do think some people are confused by the series of text we submitted for culturally responsive literature,” Elder said.

The district said the New Mexico Public Education Department has asked all districts to purchase “high quality, culturally responsive instructional materials. ” The statement said while CRT is not directly referenced in the New Mexico social studies state standards or APS curriculum, some of the same themes may coincide with CRT ideas. “I read your statement on CRT, which is essentially a blanket of approval,” one person said during public comment.

In Wednesday’s public comment, the four people who spoke about CRT, including parents and students, were all against it. “You are teaching our kids how to hate and how to be racist,” one parent said. “My generation doesn’t need more reasons to be hopeless,” one student said. “Let kids be kids, and get crazy ideology out of schools.”

Serna Marmol said 30 to 40 people recently reached out to her about this issue. “And we have 75,000 students, 150,000 parents and 12,000 staff,” Muller Aragon said. “I don’t see why this had to be addressed.”

Other board members were in favor of the statement. “This is not reverse racism or some kind of attempt to manipulate young peoples’ minds,” Board of Education Vice President Lorenzo Garcia said.

Lawmakers like Democratic Rep. Javier Martinez argue CRT is not new. Martinez said the legislature has passed academic standards for decades to address diversity rooted in concepts of CRT. “It is rigorous academic standards that are going to really lead and help students better understand our own history,” Martinez said.

House Republican Whip Rod Montoya disagrees. “What we are doing may be considered child abuse because what we are doing to some of the children is telling them they are nothing more than helpless victims and telling another set of children they are nothing more than ruthless oppressors,” Montoya said.

This comes as NMPED is updating its social studies standards. NMPED said that has nothing to do with CRT, and they have given no guidance to New Mexico school districts regarding CRT and don’t anticipate doing so. The statement will be presented to APS principals at a conference Thursday for their feedback.

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