COLORADO SPRINGS — The fight over whether critical race theory should be taught in K-12 public schools continues as District 49 is set to vote on a proposal to ban the concept and a U.S. Air Force Academy professor, who is teaching it, is pushing for inclusion at other military academies.
District 49 will hold its first public meeting Thursday night on the resolution aimed at banning CRT and other race-based training, curriculum, and methodology in public education.
"I thought the draft was pretty well written. While it discusses CRT, what I was most interested in was if it was going to be too prescriptive that it would prevent a teacher or school from talking anything about race. As I looked through the language, I didn't see it and I think it talks about the negative aspects that have now been associated with CRT but it has language in it that encourages robust discussion," said Jeff Kemp, Falcon School District 49 parent.
Kemp believes CRT shouldn't be taught in K-12 schools but isn't opposed to conversations over race.
"I encourage robust discussions and unpacking of racial history that we've had in our country. I think it's wise and smart to discuss our racial history. We are a country premised on liberty, so anytime as a country we've acted against liberty, we should be talking about it. As humans that should we do, we see people that look like us, that aren't part of our tribe, and our inclination is to differentiate and discriminate against others. That's human nature and I don't have any issue discussing why we do that," said Kemp.
Two weeks after the secretary of defense said CRT wasn't being taught, pushed, or embraced in the military. Lynne Chandler García who is an associate professor of political science at the Air Force Academy published an Op-ed in the Washington Post that it is not unpatriotic to understand a fuller version of American history, nor does it promote division among military members.
"I teach critical race theories to our nation’s future military leaders because it is vital that cadets understand the history of the racism that has shaped both foreign and domestic policy. Cadets, like all military members, take an oath to defend the Constitution with their lives — so it is crucial they have a sensitive understanding of that Constitution," said García. "In my classes, cadets learn about the ideals embedded in this founding document. We explore the liberalist theories that promoted these ideals, and we embrace our democratic system of government. But we also acknowledge that the United States was founded on a duality: liberalism and equal rights on the one hand; inequality, in-egalitarianism, and second-class citizenship on the other."
"I believe the reason why they are cadets is that they are mature enough to handle controversial or confrontational opinions. I think they have the maturity to handle that in a robust manner and come out the better for it. Not advocating for CRT, but simply saying I'm not those students so I'm not going to tell those students what to think," said Kemp.
Congressman Doug Lamborn has consistently fought against critical race theory and condemns the concept in military academies.
"Critical Race Theory is fundamentally flawed. It's not a good philosophy, it's not good history. So it teaches a wrong view of America, plus I believe is destructive and poisonous. It teaches that our country is irredeemably flawed. Yes, we have made mistakes as a country, and yes we haven't always lived up to our aspirations laid out in the Declaration of Independence but we are aspiring for that, " said Lamborn.
He is deeply concerned that an associate professor at the academy has endorsed teaching CRT which is a direct violation of the intent of the Secretary of Defense.
"One big concern that I have with critical race theory is that it would undermine the morale and motives of people who want to go into the military. What young person would go to the academy
or go into the service however they get there, sacrifice or maybe put their life on the line, for a country so flawed if you believe what CRT teaches," said Lamborn.
He applauds school boards such as District 49 that have taken a stance against it.
"I recently met with the members of the District 49 school board. I heard of a story about a young fifth-grade girl who came home in tears because she said she was a white person. So she was taught something negative and that was against who she was as a person. I think that is going too far," said Lamborn. "I think it shouldn't be taught anywhere because it is so flawed and destructive."
News 5 reached out to the Air Force Academy for comment on García's article. The following statement was released:
As an academic institution and an accredited university, cadets are encouraged to engage in critical thinking and discourse, which may drive some classroom discussion on tenets of critical race theory. The U.S. Air Force Academy supports an instructor’s responsibility to challenge students and to do so in an environment of academic freedom. While some elements from CRT canon are included in the course to encourage critical thinking, it is not a theory endorsed by the institution as institutional doctrine.
Kemp says he recognizes the best practice of local control versus legislator involvement and has faith in the academy's leadership to meet their charge and ensure cadets are prepared.
"I think legislators should stay out of education. That's not what we elected them to do so stay out. We have educators to do that and a mechanism to deal with that," said Kemp. "I would be more interested in what the Air Force Academy is saying."
News 5 did reach out to Garica for comment but we have not heard back.