Education, Featured, Sherrie Peif

Colorado teachers sign pledge to teach Critical Race Theory even if banned in classroom

DENVER — A project in the name of the late, self-proclaimed socialist college professor Howard Zinn has gathered thousands of signatures of teachers nationwide, including about 100 from Colorado, pledging to teach the tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in their classrooms despite any bans by any state government or a local school district.

CRT is a school of thought that believes racism is institutionalized and embedded in America’s history, and that history should be viewed primarily through the lens of racial oppression.

“During the Cold War and throughout the 150-year reign of Confederate-apologist revisionist historians, our textbooks were sanitized. The truth about slavery, the genocide of indigenous peoples, and white male supremacy were purposefully buried under a romantic Lost Cause Mythology,” wrote Fairfield, Conn. signer Chris Parisi as part of his reason for signing the public pledge organized by the Zinn Education Project.

According to the Zinn Project, at least 27 states are in the process of passing legislation to ban the teaching of CRT in the classroom.

“Legislation that would require teachers to lie to students about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and oppression throughout U.S. history,” the website reads in part. “That aim to prohibit teachers from teaching the truth about this country: It was founded on dispossession of Native Americans, slavery, structural racism and oppression; and structural racism is a defining characteristic of our society today.”

Colorado has not and is currently not considering passing such legislation on a state-wide level; however, Colorado Springs School District 49 near Falcon voted to ban the teaching of CRT  in its classrooms in August.

All of the signatures, which now total more than 7,300 nationwide, can be found on the organization’s website, which warns all signers that their names will be public. It is assumed that most of the signers of the pledge are teachers. Although the site asks for the educational role of the person signing, the site only shows names, locations and comments if any.

“I believe it is my duty to my students to teach them truth, even if difficult, so they can become informed citizens and feel empowered to improve their own destinies,” wrote signer Susan VanMeakins, who Complete Colorado confirmed is an English language development teacher at Sarah Milner Elementary School in the Thompson School District in Loveland.

The Daily Wire first broke the story about the pledge in June and listed the names of nearly 4,200 teachers by their state on its website. At that time, there were 90 Colorado teachers from all across the state including small towns such as Berthoud and Conifer, medium sized cities such as Greeley, Loveland and Fort Collins and larger metropolitan cities such as Denver and Colorado Springs.

Today the list contains more than 7,300 signatures with a goal of 12,800 the site says. However, last week, the Daily Wire reported names are beginning to fall off too.

“In all, over the last two months, Zinn removed the names of 37 signatories who were apparently not as courageous as they first believed,” the Daily Wire wrote, adding it was their own analysis that noticed the missing names.

The Wire gave the example of one teacher they contacted, 7th-grade teacher Romelo Green from Brookhaven, New York, “a perennial conservative stronghold on Long Island in which nine out of ten elected officials are Republican. He teaches American History for South Country Central School District at Bellport Middle School in nearby Bellport, a town that is 1 percent black, 2 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent Asian, according to the Census,” the Wire wrote.

“Since I attached my name to it and said I’m going to teach it to your kids, it’s causing me a lot of trouble,” he told the Wire when he asked them to remove his name from their initial story, “adding that a union rep told him it “doesn’t look good on me. Especially because it’s only my first year, non-tenured.”

The Wire also gathered the names of the following Colorado teachers who had signed the pledge:

  • Alamosa — Rhonda Schoenecker; Arvada —James Crider, Kathy Zaleski, Maya Thieme; Aurora — Erin Boyce, Jane Barber, Megan Ostedgaard, Miguel Ortega, Tanya Solano; Avon — Martha Mcglinchy Teien; Berthoud — Tim Kubik; Boulder — Barry Sparks, Heather Carr, Kelly Molinet, Victoria Hand; Brighton — Deborah Figueroa; Broomfield — Janel Ramsey, Rachel Knoche, Riann Sahnow; Colorado Springs — David Benson, Dwanna McKay, James Gregg, Jane Murphy, Todd Craig; Commerce City — Gary Kidd Conifer — Anne Nelson; Denver — Abraham Ornelas-Palacios, Ambria Reed, Becky Martinez, Briana Gonzales, CJ Hendrickson, Caitlin Ross, Carol Hunter, Christian Holmes, Daniel Lopez, Douglas Moehle, Erin Anderson, Erin Rolf, Jennifer Courtney-Keyse, Jessica Perry, Jessica Wainman, Lauren Snella, Lisa Hellmann, Marc-Paul Johnsen, Mark Sass, Megan Taylor, Michael Rollolazo, Molly Ewing, Raven Medrano, Scott Ramsey, Tyrone Yarbrough, Venessa Valdez, Victoria Tubbs, ilyanna kreske Durango — Alicia McClung; Englewood — Joe Riehl; Erie — Kelly Feinstein-Johnson; Evergreen — Julia Fliss, Rick Roadruck; Fort Collins — Barbara Janssen, Kurt Knierim, Lisa Neal, Wendy Bergman; Golden — Hayley Breden, Melinda Bowers; Greeley — Annie White, Richard Cieminski; Lafayette — Jacob Jansen; Littleton — Hannah McClain, Lindsey Widstrom, Susan Cox; Longmont —Katie Torres, Lynn Lovett Barr, Michael Rees; Louisville —Christine Manzo, Tiffany Boyd; Parker — Michael Laudick; Pueblo — Mike Maes; Telluride — Lauren Norton, Theresa Koenigsknecht; Thornton —Cameron Leonard; Usaf Academy — Caroline Falzone, Christopher Nemec, Jessica Wittebols, Kathryn Derrah, Trina Corley; Westminster — Pete Newlove; Wheat Ridge — Andres Martinez.

More names have been added since the initial story by the Wire, including Josan Perales of Estes Park who wrote: “We must ‘go for broke’ as fierce and conscious educators fighting for liberation for ALL. THIS is the work.”

And Kristie Edwards of Arvada who wrote: “Because scientists like George Washington Carver can change a future!”

The full list of names can be found at https://www.zinnedproject.org/news/pledge-to-teach-truth. They are listed randomly and are not grouped by state.

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