Heated discussion around critical race theory at RPS board meeting | KAALTV.com

Heated discussion around critical race theory at RPS board meeting

Emily Pofahl
Updated: July 13, 2021 11:53 PM
Created: July 13, 2021 11:37 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Tuesday evening's Rochester school board meeting turned into a confrontation about teaching race theory in the schools. 

It was quite a welcome for the new school superintendent.  

His first official meeting and the board was expected to focus on school funding and school sports. But instead, audience members spoke about critical race theory and whether or not it should be taught in the classroom.

Dozens of concerned Rochester residents showed up at Tuesday's board meeting telling the board they are against putting critical race theory teachings in the K-12 curriculum. 

The board listened while residents shouted their opinions. 

But critical race theory wasn't even on the board meeting's agenda, and members told ABC 6 News that they aren't even considering bringing the controversial theory into Rochester classrooms. 

"And one last question, If your bathroom mirror showed your character instead of your reflection...Could you admire yourselves? Or would you be so ashamed you'd have to look away?" one resident said.

The group organized through Facebook and signed up ahead of time to discourage the board from adding critical race theory to the classroom curriculum. 

"They wanna teach that America is bad and they wanna indoctrinate our kids and I do not want that," Jan Throndson, another Rochester resident, said. 

Several people spoke, and often shouted, their beliefs about critical race theory as well as other topics like mask mandates and racial equity. 

"Now you're flying a pride flag? There's only one flag and it's that the American flag," another resident said.

But, critical race theory wasn't even on the agenda. Board members say it wasn't even a thought. It wasn't even something being discussed as an option for the district. 

"While people can come down and talk about anything they wanna talk about, it's not even something being taught or even discussed right now in Rochester Public Schools. Equity very much is, but not critical race theory," Superintendent Kent Pekel said.

The new superintendent said that most of what residents said tonight was just untrue. 

"We are not trying to indoctrinate people in Marxism. We are trying to teach people to think critically," Pekel said. 

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