[ECity Beat] I’m a long-time Great Falls citizen and a fan of your blog. Since Critical Race Theory has been in the news a lot lately, I thought it might be worth checking out how CRT has made its way into the Great Falls Public School district.
I am a retired teacher, and am friends with many teachers in Great Falls. Several members of my family even work for the school district. In many ways, our district is (thankfully) a lot more conservative than other AA Class districts throughout Montana.
I never saw a lot of overt teaching of how white students are inherently racist (beyond the normal social studies curriculum, which tends to put a lot of blame on western civilization for all of the world’s problems).
But there is one way that CRT has infiltrated even out here, and that is through the practices of so-called “restorative justice” and “standards-based grading.”
I don’t know how well-publicized restorative justice is in our school district, but there have already been several faculty meetings about it in the various secondary schools. Many teachers were told that they would all start implementing it soon. However, the way it gets implemented is vague. Right now, it appears mostly in the way administration handles disciplinary issues.
Traditionally, there were consequences for breaking rules. A student attacking a classmate, for example, would result in automatic suspension or expulsion. Under the tenets of restorative justice, however, things like suspension or expulsion are frowned upon and even avoided if at all possible.
This is because restorative justice is the belief that “punishment” for breaking a rule should be avoided, in favor of other practices like having “one-on-one conferences” with a student.
Restorative justice goes beyond just consequences, though. It seeks to actually redefine what constitutes a “problem behavior.”
Under restorative justice, things that our own childhood teachers would have considered “insubordination” may now just be shrugged off as no big deal.
There’s a lot out there about restorative justice, but you can read more about it from this informative article written by proponents of the practice:
Restorative justice has its roots in Critical Race Theory. Just Google “restorative justice” + “critical race theory” for endless sources to back this up.
Our district has many examples of severely troubled students, with well-documented histories of violence and insubordination, who have received little to no consequences for their ongoing behavior. Ask any teacher you know about this, and I’m sure they can give you many examples.
Whether this is restorative justice, or just admins not wanting to rock the boat, I do not know. And I’m not saying students never get expelled, but I do believe teachers today are putting up with far, far worse behavior than they used to. And oftentimes, with little to no consequences for the students in question.
I assume the restorative justice part of Critical Race Theory made its way into our district because of threats from the ACLU, which you can read about here.
The ACLU believed that because non-white students had a higher incidence of being written up in Great Falls, this was evidence of widespread “racism.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it was shortly after this report was published that teachers started getting lectures from the administration about how restorative justice and standards-based grading was the future.
Here are some examples of restorative justice being mentioned openly in school documents and articles about the district, and can read about them here…
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[Editor’s Note: This article was first written and published at ECity Beat]