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Laconia says critical race theory not taught in city schools

  • Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer, upper right, speaks during Monday night's virtual City Council meeting while councilors and City Manager Scott Myers, top row center, listen. Hosmer and the entire council defended the city's reputation for tolerance and inclusiveness in the face of an anti-Semitic cartoon posted and later deleted by School Board member and state Rep. Dawn Johnson.

The Laconia Daily Sun
Published: 5/26/2021 5:46:52 PM

The ongoing debate on how school children learn about racism has prompted the City Council to ask whether two controversial approaches to the topic are being taught in city schools.

The council directed City Manager Scott Myers to ask Superintendent Steve Tucker to ask whether critical race theory or the curriculum of the 1619 Project are being used in instruction.

Neither program is being used in the schools, Tucker said Tuesday.

Councilor Bruce Cheney, who said that he has been following some of the national debate, raised the issue at Monday’s council meeting.

“It’s fairly obvious a lot of people are concerned,” Cheney said when contacted Tuesday to explain why brought up the matter.

He said his inquiry was not prompted by a supposition that either critical race theory or the 1619 Project are being used in Laconia schools, but he said some clear statement from the superintendent was called for to get the district’s position on the public record.

“If they are teaching either of these (perspectives) they should let us know, particularly parents,” Cheney said.

“The theory and the Project are not being taught in our schools,” Tucker said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

“It is important that our students understand our nation and their world and history of both through a variety of different stories, perspectives, and voices,” he added.

Tucker said that he had a discussion with Myers earlier and had communicated that fact to him.

Born out of the civil rights movement, critical race theory started as a way of examining laws through the lens of race and how laws can keep the powerful in power. It has since spread to other disciplines.

Its supporters argue that white supremacy exists and is embedded in the legal system, and that lasting racial equality can be achieved by transforming the relationship between the law and racial power.

Critics, however, say the concept is divisive because it separates and isolates people based on race, and further that it is used to promote a liberal political agenda.

The 1619 Project curriculum is an outgrowth of a long-form journalism project undertaken by the New York Times to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slaves in British North America in 1619.

Critics say one of the project’s main premises – that the Revolutionary War was fought in part to preserve slavery – is historically inaccurate. In addition, some have objected to what they see as the curriculum’s pessimistic outlook about the willingness of white people to devote themselves to achieving true racial equality.

Cheney said he fears CRT and the 1619 Project cross the line from education to indoctrination.

He said there is public interest locally, but “not a groundswell.”

Tucker said the main focus of the district’s instructional program focuses on teaching students ways to develop the skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, perseverance, problem-solving and self-direction.

School Board Chair Heather Lounsbury said she was not bothered by the council's question.

"We all want a collaborative effort to get the best education possible for our students," she said.

Lounsbury was unsure whether the matter would be discussed at the School Board's next meeting next Tuesday. But she said that even if the topic was not on the agenda, the issue could be raised during the public comment portion of the meeting.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative as part of our race and equity project. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org. 


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