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Oswego School District Board questioned on rollout of Culturally Responsive Teaching

Some Oswego School District 308 parents are looking forward to the 2021-2022 school year and calling for changes as the summer begins.

During the June 7 OSD 308 Board of Education meeting at Oswego East High School, parent Crystal Casper voiced concerns over the implementation of Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) in the district.

Casper, speaking on behalf of the Community in Action vs. SD308 Facebook group, told the board that she had asked for specific instructional materials from the district related to the implementation of CRT in a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The district’s reply, Casper said, was that “there were no standards being taught to students on CRT.”

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) adopted the CRT standards for state public schools in December and they are set to go in effect in 2025.

In a statement issued Feb. 1, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) said the CRT “standards affirm educators of all races and ethnicities and will help them better engage students from all different backgrounds.” The standards include provisions calling for greater teacher self-awareness and attention of relationship to others.

According to the ISBE, “the standards aim to foster classroom and school environments in which every student feels that they belong. This feeling of belonging is critical to improving academic and behavioral outcomes for Illinois’ increasingly diverse students. More than 52 percent of Illinois students identify as students of color and English Learners make up the fastest growing student population, but Illinois’ teacher workforce remains more than 82 percent white. The ability to reach students from different cultural backgrounds is an essential skill to succeed as a teacher in Illinois today.”

According to demographic information posted on the OSD 308 website, 43% of the district’s more than 17,000 students are either Hispanic (22%), Black (9%), Asian (7%) or multi-racial ((5%). A total of 25% are classified as low income.

Casper said she was told that teachers are trained on “best practices” in instruction to meet needs of students.

Reading from a prepared statement, Casper said that she would be very interested in learning more about what that teacher training entails and how it would look in a classroom setting.

“What are teachers being encouraged, coerced or forced into doing?” she asked.

Casper also asked the Board if parents could have access to training sessions for teachers, whether those sessions were conducted virtually or in-person, and if parents could be involved in future training.

“What is the overall goal School District 308 wishes to accomplish with these new programs? How can the DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and SEL (Social Emotional Learning) departments give parents more insight and open forums to discuss issues and opposition with these new ideological trainings that may not align with their own world views?” Casper continued. “If teachers do not agree with CRT agenda, are they given the ability to opt out? Are parents given the ability to opt their children out of these learning sessions, or will it be intertwined in all lesson plans, ceasing any way to avoid it?”

If parents do not wish for their students to be exposed to certain materials, Casper added, there should be additional options available for those students.

“The public school system leaves much to be desired and little control to the people that matter most – the children and the taxpayer,” she said. “We want our children to be able to enjoy a few years of childhood, untouched, unscathed, or manipulated by the government. We want to preserve their innocence and encourage free flow of thoughts and opinions without being subject to scrutiny or criticism. It’s abundantly clear the public school system’s objective is the exact opposite. They want one view, equal outcomes and total compliance.

“While trying to create this utopia of acceptance and love, they are pushing kids to become combative, aggressive, cynical and overly dramatic about their feelings at any given moment. You are essentially creating victims and enemies in K-12.”

Given the increase in racially-charged incidents across the country in recent years, Casper questioned the sense in encouraging “activism, angst and identity politics” among children and young adults.

“This will only produce more anger, vengeance among us all. Our kids deserve a good education based on facts, figures, distinguished literature – not of opinions, feelings and political agendas,” she said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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