Minnesota high school offers ‘Introduction to Critical Race Theory’ class

Owatonna High School students will learn the "five tenets" of critical race theory and "how to isolate race as they reflect on their own personal life experience."

Owatonna High School/YouTube

A local high school will be offering an elective class that exclusively teaches critical race theory this fall.

As first reported by the Minnesota Sun, a July 12 Owatonna Public Schools Board meeting turned out several concerned parents who spoke out against the district’s “Introduction to Critical Race Theory” elective class.

The class description explains that students will learn the “five tenets” of critical race theory (CRT) and “how to isolate race as they reflect on their own personal life experiences.”

The class will teach students about the “role race and racism have in perpetuating social disparities between dominant and marginalized racial groups.” An “Introduction to Education” class is strongly recommended as a prerequisite, and students can take the CRT class for college credit.

At the July 12 school board meeting, parents and student held signs that read, “Teach MLK, Not CRT” to express their disapproval of the class.

“Let’s not politicize things in this school system,” said one father of two students in the district, who noted that his kids will be attending a different school if the CRT class is offered at Owatonna High School.

Another resident said critical race theory represents a “political agenda,” not education.

“If they want to break this country apart, critical race theory is going to be how you can do it,” she said. “You have a huge responsibility. What you put in these young people’s minds, it’s just like a sponge. They take it up. And I can tell from talking to grandchildren, they’ve drank the Kool-Aid.”

One parent said critical race theory opponents “do not deny the presence of racism today,” but object to “promoting new forms of racism.”

“We reject critical race theory because it teaches students to judge themselves and others by their skin color and group themselves as either white oppressors or oppressed people of color. Promoting CRT in our schools will only institutionalize racism,” she said.

A few community members voiced their approval and “appreciation” of the class being offered. One parent emphasized the importance of presenting “another perspective” to explain why some groups “may be at a disadvantage systemically” due to “present systems and policies.”

Many public schools across the state have been met with backlash from parents and community members who worry about the dangers of teaching CRT to children.

Lakeville, Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley, Elk River, and Rochester are just a few of the school districts that have dealt with strong opposition from their communities, students, and parents.