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Paso Robles school board approves ban on "specific elements" of critical race theory teachings

The Paso Robles Unified School District Board voted 4-3 in favor the motion, with Trustees Chris Bausch, Tim Gearhart, and Nate Williams casting the dissenting votes.

After several meetings and heated public discussions this past summer, the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District passed a resolution banning elements of critical race theory from being taught within the classroom.

Critical race theory, or CRT, has become a topic of fierce political debate around the nation in recent months — especially within K-12 school board meetings.

Tuesday night's Paso Robles Unified School District meeting was no exception.

CRT is an academic concept that has been around for more than 40 years, with the core idea being that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely a product of individual bias, but also something that is embedded in legal systems and policies.

Some speakers, like Shannon Gonzales, said CRT is a way of understanding and teaching how American racism has shaped public policy. She disagreed with the proposal to ban it within the district. 

“Critical race theory will be taught in schools eventually," Gonzales said. "I’m just saying it will! You’re on the wrong side of history, so think about that.”

But others, like Michael Reveda, said the theory teaches people to hate each other, pitting people of color against white people. 

“We need to draw a line in the sand and say we are not going to have our kids hating each other," Reveda said. "We are not going to have our kids pointing the finger of blame and calling one group oppressors and calling another group victims.”

Although CRT is not currently a part of the district's curriculum, President Chris Arend said he wrote the resolution to ban CRT in order to prohibit forms of CRT from entering the classroom.

“We have had incidents where teachings of CRT have found their way into our classrooms," Arend said. "We had teachers displaying Black Lives Matters banners behind them in their remote training.”

After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 4-3 in favor of the motion banning “specific elements of critical race theory” from being taught within the district.

In another heavily debated issue at the meeting, the board voted to reopen this fall with mandatory masking for students in accordance with state requirements, but also passed the “Let Them Breathe” Resolution, which advocates to the California Department of Public Health for parental choice for masking and vaccinating their children.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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