Controversy over how to teach racial history draws crowd to Manhattan-Ogden school board meeting

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – During a regularly-scheduled meeting for the USD 383 school board, more than forty members of the public showed up to share their thoughts on the use of critical race theory in teacher training.

Critical race theory is an academic framework that examines the lasting social impacts of racism and discrimination. The move to include the topics in training sessions for teachers in the district, proved to be controversial.

“I don’t support critical race theory because it really divides people up into categories – white, black, talks about white being oppressors and everyone else being oppressed and things of that nature which I don’t think does anything constructive,” said former Manhattan City Commissioner John Matta.

In some states, Republicans have aimed to block the use of critical race theory in schools. In May the state of Texas banned the topic from public schools altogether.

But supporters said that even though the teacher training would not stop all acts of racism, the matter should be taken up by local school boards.

“A three-day training for teachers is not going to solve all of our problems but it is a step in the right direction,” said Shana Bender with the Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice. “Especially when we know that districts are, our district in particular, does have evidence of systemic racism over an under-representation.”

The USD 383 school board did not take action Wednesday on the matter but is scheduled to meet again on June 30th.

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