According to new documents received by Judicial Watch and exclusively provided to Fox News, Maryland’s most populous county, Montgomery County, launched a “psychoeducational lesson” teaching children in schools that there is a “dual pandemic” involving COVID-19 and “systemic racism.” Materials recommended that teachers buy the Ibram X. Kendi book “Antiracist Baby” as “the perfect gift” for “ages baby to age 3.”
The documents come amid intense debate about critical race theory (CRT) in schools, after Virginia Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin won the 2021 governor’s race on a platform banning CRT. Many parents have opposed CRT – a framework that involves deconstructing aspects of society to discover systemic racism beneath the surface – as divisive and racist.
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“This material details how extremist race politics and CRT are being used to target children for political ends,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement on the documents. “Politics should immediately be removed from the curriculum of Montgomery County Schools. These CRT-laden teachings have no place in any American classroom.”
In an August 26, 2020 email to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) principals, Associate Superintendent Janet S. Wilson announced that “all schools will be required to implement a student psychoeducational lesson during one of the school’s mandatory Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) block [sic] before September 18, 2020. This lesson will provide students crisis facts about the dual pandemic (COVID-19 and systemic racism) that is occurring around the country and here in Montgomery County.”
An instructional video for teachers begins with instructions on how to set up Zoom classes to make “students saving and sharing the chat for later” less likely, the instructor directs teachers to use a “scripted response.”
“We are currently living through a dual pandemic with COVID-19 and the Systemic and Structural racism occurring worldwide,” the instructor coaches teachers to say. “A pandemic is defined by an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population. As you can see from this slide [featuring a Black Lives Matter protest poster], both are affecting lives of people in our community and around the world.”
A PowerPoint presentation on “Family Guidance to the Psychoeducational Lesson” includes an elementary slide with a link to a video reading of Ibram X. Kendi’s book “Antiracist Baby.” A “Teacher’s Notes” slide advises teachers that the “Antiracist Baby” book introduces “the youngest readers” to antiracism and calls the book “the perfect gift” for “ages baby to age 3.”
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A glossary slide for secondary schools claims that “Systems of Oppression identifies inequity by calling attention to the historical and organized patterns of mistreatment. In the United States systems of oppression (like systemic racism) are woven into the very foundation of American culture, society, and laws.”
One slide asks, “Can Students opt-out [of the psychoeducational lesson]?” One bullet point reads, “Students cannot opt-out of the lessons.” However, the slide notes that parents may request “an alternative method” for their children “due to mental health concerns.”
A PowerPoint presentation titled “3rd through 5th Grade Psychoeducational Lesson” includes a slide labeled “COVID-19 and Social Justice,” which claims that “People in African American and Latinx communities have been more likely to get sick from COVID-19 because of how racism and unfairness impacts their lives” (emphasis original).
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Judicial Watch has obtained other records from MCPS, including documents related to the school district’s “Anti-racist system audit” and CRT classes. Thomas Pyle Middle School’s social justice class taught students that the phrase “Make America Great Again” was an example of “covert white supremacy.”