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Furor Over CRT, Pulling Books is “Manufactured Crisis”: Dallas ISD Leader

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa of Dallas ISD was among three leading local educators who spoke with The Texas Tribune about polarizing, political issues facing schools

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Three prominent North Texas school leaders spoke at length this week about their feelings on each of those controversial issues like critical race theory, pulling books from school libraries, and remote learning during the pandemic.

The Texas Tribune hosted a roundtable featuring the superintendents of the two largest local school districts, Michael Hinojosa of Dallas ISD and Kent Scribner of Fort Worth ISD, as well as Jeannie Stone, who resigned as superintendent of the Richardson ISD late last year.

Hinojosa, who is set to step down from his post before the end of 2022, stressed the much-publicized concern about how to teach and discuss race in schools, which has broadly been referred to as critical race theory, is purely political.

“This is a manufactured crisis," said Hinojosa. "This is not real. This is a national playbook by some very smart, organized people.”

Each of the three school leaders agreed that critical race theory is not taught in their schools.

“There definitely is something that is ‘critical race theory,’" said Stone. "It is not taught in schools,” said Stone. “And I think that was the narrative that was crafted really last summer and it took, it caught on like wildfire. I’ve never seen anything like it. ‘Equity’ became a four-letter word. And the work that we were doing that was making a huge difference for our kids was suddenly, a lot of it was called wrong.”

Scribner, who has announced he will step down at the end of his current contract in 2024, noted that much of the supposed controversy over these issues is being injected by a vocal minority, as opposed to it being a reflection of the thoughts of the general community.

“And I think one of the challenges is that there is an imbalance in the ecosystem,” Scribner said. “We are hearing from a well-organized, nationally-funded strategic, small group, and there is a large group of our population who has been silent.”

Each of the three school leaders said that the pandemic, and the pivot to remote learning, negatively impacted the education of the vast majority of students.

Hinojosa said that a “supermajority” of Dallas ISD students, between 90% to 95%, struggled in the remote environment.

“I’ve had my issues with the governor, but the best thing the governor did is force us to come back and tell us we weren’t going to have any money if we didn’t come back in October,” Hinojosa said. “Now, we had a disagreement over how we come back. We felt like masks were necessary. So it has been one issue after another, and none of these things were in our strategic plan.”

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