Classroom restrictions will limit teaching and understanding Black history, says expert
New restrictions imposed by some states could prevent students from learning about the history of diversity education during Black History Month, says a Virginia Tech expert in race and public policy.
“The primary way that we learn, at least in this country, is through public education. If these subjects are forbidden, then so are our growth opportunities,” says, Brandy Faulkner, a collegiate assistant professor of political science and the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “It’s inconceivable that these discussions are considered outside the purview of public education, and quite dangerous.”
Faulkner says the push for restrictions illustrate a general lack of understanding about racism and its prominence in society, but also limits teachers' autonomy about how best to educate students.
“These new restrictions point to the intentional misuse of the term ‘Critical Race Theory,’” says Faulkner. “For nearly two years there has been a massive pushback against racial justice movements, including attempts to delegitimize any criticism of institutional racism, public campaigns for police accountability, and calls for inclusive curricula and truth telling.”
Faulkner says that the misinformation and backlash against these movements has been extremely effective. “Parents are now convinced that teachers want 5-year-olds to accept responsibility for slavery, or that in order to protect children from guilt, we must ban books.”
Some states have banned specific topics or concepts like white privilege, unconscious bias, and systemic racism, says Faulkner. Other states have either banned or proposed to ban the teaching of any topic that might make students feel guilt, blame, or shame, she said.
“Forbidding teachers to teach about these important subjects in schools prohibits movement forward for bringing social justice and the need for reform to the forefront of society.”
Brandy Faulkner is collegiate assistant professor of political science and the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Her areas of specialization include constitutional and administrative law, race and public policy, and critical organization theory. She teaches courses in public administration, constitutional law, administrative law, research methods, and the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender. View her full bio here. Faulkner’s expertise has been featured on NPR, Reuters, USA Today, and in the Atlanta Black Star.
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