Critical Race Theory mandate adds to instructor shortage in public schools, as teachers take early retirement or transfer to private schools

Nov 30, 2021

A few weeks ago, with only three days’ notice, officials in Seattle, Bellevue and Kent suddenly closed public schools to some 98,000 students.  Officials said they imposed the closures because of what they called “teacher fatigue,” staffing shortages” and “inclement weather,” even though all other government offices remained open.  A cynical view would note that union contracts protect teacher “walkouts,” and that perhaps school staff simply wanted a four-day weekend.

One public school mom, though, has a different thought.  Julie Barrett of Seattle says many teachers stepped away because they are being forced to teach Critical Race Theory.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is currently required under a bill, SB 5044, signed by Governor Inslee last May.  The curriculum instructs children that white students are oppressors and that their classmates are oppressed, and that a person’s standing and success in life is based not on effort, merit or character, but primarily on outward appearance. The controversial racialist concept has been enthusiastically promoted by school officials in Seattle, Bellevue and other urban districts.

In a TV interview Mrs. Barrett reports teachers frequently tell her they are “tired of having the radical left ideals pushed upon them and prioritized over academic education” especially in Western Washington.  She says “...teachers of every subject were first encouraged, but now required, to implement these [CRT] lessons into their curriculum.”  She adds,

“Many teachers I know have chosen to leave the public school system in favor of private schools that are not pushing to indoctrinate their students and are focusing on academics and preparing students for real life beyond their school years.

“...teachers teach because they love students, they love learning, and they love seeing growth in our young people. What’s going on in government schools right now is not education, it’s indoctrination. We will never attract good teachers who care about education if we continue down this path of radical left indoctrination.”

The state legislature meets on January 10th and may consider repeal of SB 5044 and similar discriminatory bills that were passed in the last session.  Ongoing public concern indicates that lawmakers who voted for SB 5044 may be trying to roll back the equality and civil rights gains achieved since the 1960s.

Concerns have been raised by the State Board of Education as well.  At a recent public meeting Board Member Mary Fertakis asked why CRT, Ethnic Studies and similar school programs are tied to “hatred and divisiveness.”

In both cases, the controversy over CRT has caught the attention of state leaders, as more parents make their voices heard and more families exit the public system.

Regardless of whether the CRT mandate is ultimately repealed or pushed forward on unwilling teachers, the deeply hurtful debate is clearly adding to calls for giving families access to tax-free Education Savings Accounts, private school vouchers, charter schools and other popular forms of school choice.