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Utah school board issues statement on 'Critical Race Theory'

Posted at 11:14 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 01:31:25-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The debate over whether "Critical Race Theory" should be taught in schools has become a hot topic in recent months — here in Utah and all across the country.

Gov. Spencer Cox on Monday declined to include the controversial topic in an upcoming special state legislative session.

The theory, which focuses on racism being systemically built into American history and society, has become an issue for many conservative political figures to rally against.

READ: Utah parents, activists disagree over Critical Race Theory curriculum

Cox said Monday that he is "on record saying that CRT has no place in our curriculum." However, he added that he wants to make sure no one is "stifling thought or expression" and that students have the chance to learn about both the good parts of history as well as the mistakes.

"We must also make it abundantly clear that Utah is a place that welcomes everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or any other background," Cox continued in a letter written to state House and Senate leaders. "It is who we are, and it may be easy to lose sight of that during a knee-jerk debate."

The Utah State Board of Education released a statement on the topic Monday as well.

Full statement:

"We express gratitude to both Governor Spencer J. Cox and the legislature in recognizing our work regarding educational equity. In the call of the special session released today, the governor expressed a desire to have the Board continue its work in this area. To date, no Board Member has raised Critical Race Theory (CRT) as an agenda item to include in Utah’s K-12 schools, and advocates have not asked for specific theories to be taught. Rather, there has been a focus on educational equity and access to learning for all students.

"The Board recognizes the current national discourse surrounding CRT, and its potential for divisive impacts on teachers, students, and families. We also recognize that how we respond and engage in this discourse will, too, carry impacts and provide lessons of its own.

"We have been deeply engaged in efforts surrounding education equity, and race in schools over the past several months. The efforts have produced meaningful milestones including a working definition for “educational equity []” and a Resolution Denouncing Racism and Embracing Equity in Utah Schools []. Our current examination now centers on standards for how school districts and charter schools provide professional learning on equity.

"The Board is working towards a more unified approach to improve conditions for learning, access, and opportunities. We remain committed to seeking equitable practices which are part of our conversations with educators and parents to engage families and educate all students well, including those from underrepresented groups. We look forward to continuing this work with sensitivity and careful consideration of all Utah citizens and students."

In the video above, hear from people on both sides of the issue on why they support or oppose the subject being taught.