This paper recently published a letter to the editor entitled, “We Need School Board Members Who Reflect Values of the Entire Community,” which focused on the supposed harms of teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Rye schools. The author posits that teaching which acknowledges the role of systemic racism in American society is detrimental to Rye’s students. I disagree.
No academic theory perfectly describes the world as it is. Every theory is liable to incorporate the biases of its authors. However, CRT does describe and theorize on important truths about American society. Namely, that systemic racism exists, that it benefits white people at the expense of non-whites, and that because systemic racism benefits those in power, the powerful have little incentive to change the current system. These truths are expressed in hard data. The average Black family has just 10 percent the wealth of the average white family. Black Americans are at least five-times more likely to become incarcerated than white Americans despite the fact that there are far more white people in the United States than there are Black people.
Teaching simple facts about systemic racism cannot harm the City’s students. To the contrary, it will prepare them to navigate the world, not as we would like it to be but as it is.
The author of the letter to which I am responding is correct in one regard: we need school board members who reflect the town’s values. As a graduate of Rye High School, it is my hope that Rye values truth over an invented and contrived history. Hiding students from the history and current state of our country is as wrong as it is dangerous. If we want Rye schools to remain the draw that they are, we should not be afraid of teaching Rye’s students the truth.
- Benjamin Berner