More than 25 Republican-led states have now either passed or proposed restrictions on how teachers can discuss racism and sexism in a movement against critical race theory that started under President Donald Trump.
Critical race theory (CRT) is a decades-old academic framework that investigates how racism has been embedded in government policies and laws since the country’s founding. Conservatives have insisted that there is no systemic racism and that schools are trying to indoctrinate students by teaching CRT — even though there is no evidence that most schools do. Though CRT is invoked in Republican political rhetoric, most of the state restrictions don’t specifically mention it.
Ten of the 17 members of Sununu’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion resigned this week and released a letter (see text below) saying the conversations about race and other forms of oppression that will now be restricted are “essential to advancing equity and inclusion in our state.”
The letter says that the governor’s action “is in direct conflict with the stated purpose of the Council laid out in your 2018 Executive Order instructing us to identify ways to ‘combat discrimination and advance diversity and inclusion.’ ”
Sununu released a statement that appeared to dismiss the resignations while calling them “politically charged.” One of the members who quit is Devon Chaffee, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, and Sununu blamed the ACLU.
“The Governor’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion has been going through a transition period for the better part of a year, through COVID and the passing of the former Chair, my good friend, Rogers Johnson,” the governor’s statement says in part. “Some members had already indicated to our office that they were already planning to move on after the first few years and we wish them well and thank them for their great work.”
The resigning members of the council said they had spent hundreds of hours talking with people in numerous communities across the state over the past several years.
“Governor, we feel obligated to inform you that — contrary to your recent public statements — systemic racism does in fact exist here in New Hampshire,” the letter says. “You appointed us to explore these issues, and we have reported our findings to you in detail every step of the way. …
“We sent you two letters urging you to oppose this damaging legislative proposal, both in its original form and as passed by the Senate, and requested a chance to meet with you to seek a solution that didn’t derail the important efforts underway in New Hampshire,” it says. “The Council has continuously worked to deliver to you our findings, sent you our opinion that this would weaken — not strengthen — the state’s anti-discrimination laws, and urged you to oppose this provision. Your disregard of this work makes clear that we are no longer able to fulfill the Council’s mandate.”
Last month, thousands of educators and others protested virtually and in person in more than 20 cities to make clear that they would resist efforts to restrict what teachers can say about race.
Here’s the text of the letter: