The Kirkwood School District in Missouri is hosting a “Kirkwood Educational Equity Speaker Series” that promotes teaching equity in the district’s school curriculum. The speaker series started in 2020 and has previously included discussions titled “The Cultural Violence of White Supremacy” and “Addressing Equity in the STEM Pipeline.” On Nov. 10, 2021, the school district held an entry in the speaker series called “Critical Race Theory – What is it anyway?”
The school district’s executive director of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” insisted in the video that Critical Race Theory (CRT) was not taught in the district’s schools. However, she then appeared to say that the school district does teach ideologies inspired by CRT:
You cannot teach the history of the United States without acknowledging that we have not fully met the aspirations of the concepts defined in our founding documents. You cannot teach American history, literature, music, or art without acknowledging the black, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQ, and other diverse experiences. And by failing to represent, to uplift, and to incorporate student cultural identities, histories, and their lived experiences, we inadvertently minimize and erase them as a part of the nation’s bigger story. And a lack of representation in curriculum is, in fact, structural and institutional racism. (Time Stamp: 7:24)
She also explains that the school district’s task force “worked to generate sixty-five initial steps under seven general themes to eliminate” a perceived opportunity gap. These seven themes were listed as:
- “We will learn from others.”
- “We will ensure that our systems, practices, and policies are equitable.”
- “We will engage our community to build shared ownership and responsibility for the success of all.”
- “We will exhibit shared leadership that is courageous, collaborative, and transformative.”
- “We will ensure that all staff members can successfully meet the varied needs of diverse learners.”
- “We will teach into an inclusive curriculum that represents and respects diverse cultures and promotes rigorous and relevant instruction for all.”
- “We will ensure that all learning environments are inclusive and reflect a commitment to the success of all students.”
The school district’s website includes recommendations to implement these objectives. These recommendations include conducting “equity walks/audits in all buildings at least three times per year” and implementing a plan “to ensure diverse literature, instructional resources, and learning resources are available and accessible in all classrooms.” A link to a list of “diverse” books that the school district has purchased for classrooms is included in the recommendations. A few books listed are For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, and How Jews Became White Folks and what that says about Race in America.
The Kirkwood School District has also implemented Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) through Second Step. The Second Step organization states on its website that it intends to use SEL to help schools address “racial injustice.” The website includes resources that promote teaching equity in the classroom. One resource is a document called “SEL and Racial Equity” that discusses implementing “Anti-Racist Education and Black Studies” into a school’s curriculum.