We don’t teach critical race theory, wearing masks and vaccinations are optional

About a dozen people blasted the Miami-Dade school district for teaching critical race theory, mandating students to wear masks in the classroom in the upcoming school year and forcing them to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

The problem for those critics, according to Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, the district does none of these things — nor does it plan to.

“Let’s begin with what we don’t do, what we have never done, and what we have no plans to do,” Carvalho said at Wednesday’s school board meeting following an hour and a half of public comment period.

The meeting featured several speakers who accused the district of teaching the controversial framework that aims to contextualize how racism historically impacts current public policy and society.

“We don’t teach critical race theory. It is not now, nor has it ever been, part of the state-approved curriculum or standards. It’s never been a part of the text books and curriculum materials that the state allows us to buy,” Carvalho said.

Critics of the theory, also called CRT, say it fosters racial division and paints all white people as racist.

“It’s ridiculous. And, what it is is brainwashing our children in order to make them believe that there is something wrong with them. That the way that they’re born as being white, that the sins of their great grandparents are somehow their fault. It’s not. That is racism,” said Ruth Swanson, who is not a parent, but a “concerned citizen.”

Other people who spoke at the meeting said CRT was based on Marxist ideology and is being pushed by the teacher’s union. They said they would fight to purge it from Dade schools.

“We will ensure that the hateful, disgusting CRT is rooted out of our school systems. This Marxist indoctrination of ceaseless division based on a false dichotomy of oppressor and oppressed has no place in the America civil society, and certainly not in a K through 12 school amongst brothers and sisters who want to live together in solidarity and friendship,” said Daniele Salib, a parent of children in the district.

Several other people spoke during the meeting defending the district, including several public school teachers and union members, who said there has never been any push to teach critical race theory.

Teacher Mark Plyler said the number of people who came to Wednesday’s meeting to criticize the district over issues that don’t exist shows it’s an organized effort by some conservatives to attack the teacher’s union.

The discussion around critical race theory is just another boogie man to demonize our educators, divide our communities and create a problem where there is none,” Plyler said.

Critics also attacked the district for mandating students wear masks when they return to school in the fall — even though that, too, is not happening.

“By now, we know this is an arbitrary mandate and the science and studies have proven the negative implications on our children’s health,” said parent Meghan Goicouria. “You will use fear to control our children and manipulate them into thinking that this piece of paper over their nose and mouth is the only way to health if they choose to attend school.”

However, Carvalho announced in May that masks will be optional for the 2021-2022 school year.

“It will be a parental choice,” he said.

Finally, Carvalho addressed the people who spoke Wednesday saying the district would require returning students to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“We have never, nor shall we, mandate vaccination of students or personnel. That is, by the way, not a decision that the district or the School Board controls. That is a decision of the state of Florida. The Department of Education, and the Department of Health,” he added. “So, the issue of mandatory vaccinations is not something that this board has entertained or will entertain.”

Several people who signed up to speak Wednesday against critical race theory, mandatory mask wearing and vaccinations did not get a chance to do so before the 90 minute time limit. They loudly complained and only left when School Board Vice Chair Steve Gallon III threatened to have them removed by police officers.

“What we will not suffer in this place are acts of civil disobedience,” Gallon said.