Pictured above is a project our daughter completed in her second-grade humanities class earlier this year. Ironically, my husband and I just had a conversation over dinner about the fact that her school integrates critical race theory into her curriculum all year — which was a shock.
See, we live in Florida — where we make headlines for much of everything. From “Florida Man…” to controversial bills, our state is always in the news. In 2008, you couldn’t have convinced me society would look like this in 2022. It seemed like we had finally turned the tide following some of the ugliest parts of history. However, we now find ourselves in a place where blatant attempts to gradually erase critical events that took place in the United States like slavery, the Rosewood and Tulsa Massacres, and innumerable instances of racially-motivated tragedies (ex. police brutality).
When Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act” was signed into law, I knew things would change for the foreseeable future. We have been seeing endless reports of how the curriculum will be affected by this law, including restrictions on certain books. These decisions span from history books to math and science books.
If you live in a state that has adopted similar legislation, you may be concerned about what this means for your children(s) knowledge of history. Rather than react to what’s coming, here are some steps you can take to get ahead of the curve —
Our daughter attends a private school and we weren’t sure how the new law would affect her curriculum for the coming years — so we simply asked. I thought long and hard about how to approach her school’s Director of Curriculum. Emotions have been pretty high about the new legislation and I was sure the school has been getting all sorts of calls/emails about the upcoming school year. Rather than assume there would be changes, I reached out to the Director of Curriculum. Our conversation was so invigorating, and I was able to gain valuable insight into how our daughter would learn about history going forward. If you’re located in an area where there may be some changes due to restrictions on honest education, don’t be afraid to ask questions. What you learn may pleasantly surprise you! Plus, you’ll get a better idea of how you may need to supplement that education at home.
Talk It Out
We subscribe to the notion that learning begins at home. These conversations are no different. When Kamala brought this project home, we were pretty blown away. We’ve talked with her about police brutality and other racially-motivated tragedies our country has experienced. We’ve discussed these things with her in simple language because after all, she is only 8-years old. However, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined her bringing home a project like this — but we loved it!
I mentioned earlier that she attends a private school. I recognize the fact that we can choose where she goes to school is a privilege. ends a private school. However, every child her age doesn’t have that luxury. Regardless of whether your child is homeschooled or attends the top school in the district, you should still have these sensitive conversations with your children. Transparency in education is important and if your child isn’t able to get that at school, there are things you can do to give him or her that education at home — and it starts with having the conversation.
When you can’t find the words to have the conversation with your children, don’t be afraid to lean on words that already exist. There are so many great books and films out there that can help get the message across. The key is to make sure these resources are age-appropriate. We’ve been pretty intentional about stocking Kamala’s bookshelf with works that teach her about historical events in an age-appropriate way. Some of her favorite titles have been —
- brown girl dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson
- Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
- The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson
As she gets older, we will incorporate other educational gems like Rosewood (film), 12 Years a Slave (film), and Roots (film).
When I worked in public health policy, we would equip our community partners with the skills to advocate for the changes they wanted to see in their communities. Though those strategies were great for “big people”, I feel like they would be so much more sustainable if we impart that knowledge to our “little people” AKA our kids.
Just because something is “free” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be of poorer quality. When we elect people into office, we are well within our rights to hold them accountable for what they campaigned on. Some of the ways citizens can demand better from their decision-makers are by engaging in the following activities —
- County Commission/City Council Meetings
- Legislative Delegation Hearings/Meetings
- Days on the Hill (State Capitol)
- Writing Letters
However, you decide to encourage your child to advocate for your child’s right to inclusive education is an individual choice. However, I encourage you to incorporate your child’s thoughts and feelings into the decision. I grew up in a time when children were essentially told what to do and how to do it. As millennials like myself entered the world of parenting, we’ve employed strategies that teach our children how to think critically. Though this method probably makes our parents’ skin crawl, I can see how much of a difference it has made in the children of today.
At the end of the day, every student should have an opportunity to receive honest and inclusive education. Not only does this help them feel valued and accepted, but it also helps them develop critical skills that they’ll need much sooner than later. After all, this is a great way to prepare them to be active members of society.
Can you think of some reasons why it is important to teach children how to think critically? Let me know in the comments below!
Dana Clark says
I enjoyed reading this article. Having two school aged children of my own, we are faced with each area of concern or experience you have highlighted here. It’s not easy to approach some of the conversation topics with individuals outside of our circle but as you have mentioned it may be necessary and a surprise.
Thank you for sharing your family’s experience.
Thanks so much for these kind words! As you shared, it is definitely a little nerve-wracking to have some of these conversations with folks outside of our circles. We sat on it for a while before deciding to reach out to the school because we didn’t want to cause a stir. Ultimately, we decided it would be best to know either way and just hoped it wouldn’t become a “thing”…and it didn’t! We plan to share the conversation details with her so she can see that her voice matters and what can result when she uses it the right way.
PS: It’ so, so good to hear from you! I hope you’re doing well 🙂