Myths and Facts Regarding Critical Race Theory and Gwinnett County Public Schools
Recently, a syllabus prepared by a teacher and submitted as part of the College Board AP Audit process in the summer of 2017 was shared by Heritage Action with several groups and purported to be the actual syllabus for the class. (The audit syllabus, in fact, was prepared for the review by College Board and was never used as a classroom syllabus.) As a result of Heritage Action’s claims, false and misleading information about our school system has appeared on several websites. The following facts contradict the misinformation that has been shared.
The myths below are quotes from misleading reports about this issue.
Myth: “Gwinnett County Public Schools teaches Critical Race Theory.”
Fact: Critical race theory, also called CRT, is not included in the district’s Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum or in the state’s curriculum standards which are included in the AKS. CRT is not taught in Gwinnett schools.
Myth: “This is a clear admission of guilt from Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest public school district in the state of Georgia. This week, Heritage Action staff uncovered an audit syllabus hosted on the GCPS website clearly stating teachers intended to teach AP Language students to analyze texts through the lens of critical race theory — soon after, the document was scrubbed from the site.”
Fact: GCPS does not teach CRT and the syllabus in question was never used in a class. Access to the file in question was restricted to avoid confusion after a reporter brought it to our attention that it was available through a Google search.
The audit syllabus in question was created by one teacher, not the district, and was submitted as part of the College Board’s AP Audit Syllabus process in 2017. It has never been used as an actual class syllabus. In fact, while the teacher knew there was not a live link to this audit syllabus on the teacher’s page, the teacher did not realize that this particular file was toggled to “active” in a web page folder, so it was searchable. To avoid any further confusion, the file for this syllabus—which has never been used for a course in a GCPS classroom—was switched to “inactive” status, so that it was no longer accessible with a Google search.
Myth: “Gwinnett County Public School’s apparent attempt to hide their left-wing agenda from public view comes after State Rep. Brad Thomas introduced a bill that would ban critical race theory in public schools.”
Fact: There was no “apparent attempt” to hide the audit syllabus. It was intentionally removed to prevent any further confusion as this is not a syllabus for any class in GCPS. Furthermore, Gwinnett County Public Schools’ agenda is to provide a quality and effective education to every child so they are prepared for college and the workforce.
Myth: “This is exactly why State Rep. Brad Thomas’ bill is needed: HB 888 would require curriculum transparency, a commonsense tool that gives parents the ability to oversee their children’s education, and prevent state-sanctioned discrimination.”
Fact: Gwinnett County Public Schools’ curriculum adoption process is very transparent and includes parent input. The district’s AKS curriculum was developed, and is annually revised, by our teachers, with input from our parents and community. Since 1996, teams of teachers have met each year to review the AKS for their grade level and/or subject area. The first teams reviewed the existing curriculum to propose what knowledge and skills were essential for each grade level—kindergarten through 12th grade—and for every course.
Teachers, parents, and community members throughout the district then evaluated the proposed AKS, providing feedback on what they believed to be the essential curriculum for all students. The final proposed revisions to the AKS were presented to the Gwinnett Educational Management System (GEMS) Oversight Committee, comprised of representatives from the community and school system, for validation.
This process is repeated each year to address any revisions or enhancements that teachers and/or the community believe are needed to improve our curriculum and to ensure alignment with changes at the state level. The GEMS Committee then recommends the validated revisions to the superintendent, who presents recommendations to the Board of Education for adoption and implementation in the subsequent school year.
With this process for curriculum development and improvement in place, parents can be assured that the curriculum their child is learning in a Gwinnett County classroom will be essential to his or her learning and embraced by our educators, parents, and the community.
Myth: “Tarece Johnson, the chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Public Schools Board of Education, has publicly endorsed CRT and openly displayed her hatred of white children.”
Fact: Dr. Tarece Johnson has publicly opposed legislation regarding CRT as she feels it would place a burden on educators and legal constraints on what educators could and could not say about racism, past and present. In a letter, she and 11 other School Board members from around metro Atlanta indicate that HB 888 would financially and publicly punish educators and school districts that use current events to encourage critical thinking around race and equal rights.
Dr. Tarece Johnson works as a diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice professional and her goal as a Board Member and current Board Chairperson, is to make sure that every single child—including white children—has what he or she needs to be successful. Dr. Tarece is an advocate for all of Gwinnett’s children.
Myth: “Gwinnett County Public Schools did not respond to a request for comment.”
Fact: Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Department of Communication and Media Relations did not receive an inquiry or request for a comment for this story from the media outlet that made this statement. In fact, once district staff became aware of the story, they reached out, sharing a comment that has not yet been added to the story.
The statement below was provided in response to media inquiries about the audit syllabus that included the following reference to critical race theory:
“Students will bridge the skills from AP Language to AP Research, analyzing the value of using different lenses in social criticism (Critical Race Theory, Feminist, Marxist, Psychoanalytic) to aid their analysis across issues, and the class will discuss how these perspectives apply to the different methods used by research fields.”
MEDIA STATEMENT: This syllabus was submitted to College Board by a teacher as part of the AP course audit process during the summer of 2017; however, the actual class syllabus provided to students that year and in subsequent years did not include any reference to critical race theory. CRT is not taught in this class and is not a part of Gwinnett County Public Schools’ curriculum.
The audit process is a means for teachers to show College Board that they know the material included in the scope of a course and that their plans would meet the expectations for an AP course. This process also allows teachers additional opportunities to review and plan how they will teach the course. While a topic and assignment may be included in a submitted syllabus to College Board, it does not mean that it must or will actually be included in the final course syllabus. Teachers continue to research and adjust their lessons. There are even times when a syllabus may be submitted through the audit process and that class ends up not even being taught. In this case, a reference to “critical race theory” was included in the audit syllabus but the teacher did not include it in the actual class syllabus and did not teach CRT.
The teacher did not realize that while it was not visible on the website, it could still be accessed via a Google search. This item was removed from the website platform’s file system on Thursday afternoon when this matter was brought to our attention. It was removed to avoid any further confusion as this is not a syllabus for any class at the school.