WALLER — In a smaller, rural area outside of the Houston metropolis, Waller parents have found that their school district isn’t a “conservative stronghold” like they thought.
Josh Posey, a Waller ISD father, confronted the school board last fall with evidence of sexually explicit materials in school library books. However, the books were only the beginning; Posey and other parents have hit walls with Waller ISD administration over issues such as the sexual violence seminar shown to students (the school then refused to allow parents to review the seminar’s content).
Now, as the school year comes to an end, classes such as English Language Arts (ELA) and Art I are including assignments that promote social issues to “manifest justice” and highlight racial privilege.
Critical race theory—the hotly contentious racist ideology that teaches individuals should be punished or promoted because of the color of their skin—assumes that any racial disparities are evidence of systemic racism.
The Texas Legislature ostensibly banned the practice of teaching CRT in public schools, but the legislation is vague and lacks a viable enforcement mechanism. Therefore, Senate Bill 3 is essentially useless to parents attempting to remove CRT from their children’s classrooms (and libraries).
In ELA, students read the book “Harbor Me” as a class. The book examines various social issues through the eyes of young teens. It includes the stories of a girl whose father is imprisoned, a boy whose father is being deported, and perhaps most importantly, a boy whose parents told him to never point a gun—even a fake one—at a police officer.
This explanation from the boy’s parents is clearly meant to highlight the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who drew a gun from his waistband as police approached and was killed. The gun was later found to be fake, a pellet gun without the orange tip to signify its pretend status.
Posey said that the book, meant to showcase the plight of minorities and racial privilege, is not the issue in this case. “What I really don’t like is that the teacher is facilitating discussion off of a book that has half-truths in it.”
According to Waller ISD policy, teachers are required to present both sides of a controversial topic when covering an issue.
“We’re all about critical thinking,” said Posey. “We don’t have a problem talking about controversial issues. But for children under the age of 18, they’re still learning; they deserve to hear what the other side is, especially if we expect them to make up their own minds about stuff. But that didn’t happen.”
Posey claims that in the class discussion, one student asked the teacher if her point was that black people are disadvantaged because they don’t have the same opportunities as white people. “And she said, ‘Yes, that is correct. That’s what I’m saying,’” according to Posey.
Although Posey and his family knew that the ELA teacher did not believe as they did, he said, “We were tolerating this teacher’s point of view. We don’t expect everyone to believe what we believe and be lemmings. We found her to be one of our son’s best teachers that we liked. And so, it gave us a little more incentive to give her leeway when she’s obviously injecting her point of view into something. But this really goes beyond what we’re able to tolerate.”
“That’s really what set us on fire … when you confirm that opportunities exist for some races and not others,” said Posey, whose biracial son is being told in class that he won’t receive the same opportunities as others.
“I’m completely okay with talking about tough issues,” Posey confirmed, “if the teacher is able to stand in the center and facilitate critical thinking on both sides.”
Throughout the year, this teacher, with a minor in Africana studies, has highlighted social justice issues and minority oppression through her in-class library. The teacher has also skirted the issue of teaching CRT by allowing students to “preview” books for 15 minutes before deciding whether they want to read them.
“But she’s promoting this ideology [through her in-class library] that people of color are unfairly oppressed by white police officers, by the system in our country,” said Posey. “And that’s the tenets of critical race theory. As we continue through the school year, we found that she’s using teaching points, like that Nike commercial, that is legitimately a Black Lives Matter allyship between Nike and BLM.”
“When you present one side of something that talks about racial privileges and how people are oppressed because of their race, but other people have a different race and you never present another side, that becomes the only truth that you’re teaching,” said Posey.
Posey filed a grievance against the teacher and sought to audit the class per Waller ISD policy earlier this week. He has been held off until Friday.
Meanwhile, in art class, students have been instructed to create a poster to “manifest justice” on a social issue, according to the assignment sheet viewed by Texas Scorecard. Students were also instructed to include a call to action on the issue.
Posey says this is unusual for a class that has focused all year on sketching, using pastels, and drawing the view outside the window.
“We think that there’s no coincidence that there’s just weeks left in school, and these assignments are coming forth,” says Posey. “Because what are you going to do when the summer gets here? Nothing, right? The issue will die.”
“If we’re already at this point, as an insignificant, nobody, small-town school district, how bad will it be in 20 years if parents don’t stand up and stop this?” Posey asks.