My name is Caitlin Kluger. I am 17 years old, a native Upper West Sider. I attended PS 87 and Booker T. Washington schools, and I’m currently at the Clinton School in Chelsea. I am white. I support Critical Race Theory. You should too.
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, America once again entered a moment of racial reckoning, putting many policies (new and old) under scrutiny. One of which is Critical Race Theory (CRT), currently one of the most polarizing and debated subjects across the United States. CRT intends to teach students about the ways in which racism is embedded into systems, policies, and laws throughout the country. This can include the healthcare system, the War on Drugs, redlining, etc.
Many are against the teaching of Critical Race Theory, labeling it indoctrination or political correctness; however, this is not the case.
According to Statistical Atlas, nearly 67% of the Upper West Side is white, which is reflected in our schools. In my elementary and middle school experiences, I estimate that over 75% of my classmates each year were white, as were 100% of my core subject teachers. This resulted in being taught a white-washed and white-centered curriculum, such as learning that Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were polar opposites. MLK was taught to be good, someone we should praise, while Malcolm was bad, someone we should condemn.
This type of inaccurate, incomplete education is an issue for two primary reasons, both of which Critical Race Theory would fix:
Even though UWS schools are primarily white, there are still students of color who are actively being harmed by a white-washed curriculum. Knowledge is power and the only way to counter racism and bigotry is through education. If we are not teaching the accurate, truthful history and reality of the United States, then we cannot counter the racism that has been prevalent in this country since its birth.
Additionally, I can confirm that I am learning the most/am most engaged when I am taught a full and accurate curriculum. Despite my schools not teaching a blanket CRT education, certain teachers of mine taught an interdisciplinary and historically-conscious course, and it was these classes that I most enjoyed and learned the most from. If we truly value education and an engaging curriculum, then we must teach Critical Race Theory.
I would not argue that Critical Race Theory is a flawless plan. But it is not indoctrination. It is not pushing a radical leftist agenda. It is a first step to accurately educating our youth in order to counter racism and ensure a meaningful education experience, creating a fairer, more inclusive and empathetic society. It is a plan that the Upper West Side should support.