Lawmaker warns Palm Beach School Board about critical race theory

Financial concept about Critical Race Theory with sign on the white notepad.
Is it being taught? Palm Beach County officials say no.

Rep. Rick Roth came to the Palm Beach County School Board with a question — and a warning about an issue that’s roiling school districts across the country.

It’s called critical race theory and the West Palm Beach Republican told a joint meeting between the legislative delegation and the School Board Wednesday that he’s hearing concerns it’s happening in the same schools both he and his children call their alma mater. And it’s a concern that might cause an exodus from public schools, he said.

“Is there curriculum material or teacher training that separates students based on race or teaches students through the lens of racial discrimination?” he asked.

Critical race theory has emerged as a political issue this past year. Roth said he heard about it during a Facebook discussion with Rep. Randy Fine of Brevard County. Critical race theory is an academic concept that posits systemic racism is embedded into American institutions and processes. Gov. Ron DeSantis has riffed against it. The Virginia Governor’s race included an advertisement for the Republican candidate featuring a mother who was unable to get a novel about slavery’s horrors taken out of the curriculum because of the Democratic candidate’s policies.

Superintendent Mike Burke said the district does not teach critical race theory to Palm Beach County students. They do learn about history, according to state standards, which do not gloss over historical facts like slavery that might make some people feel uncomfortable.

The term, “critical race theory,” Burke said, is being used to get people angry about what’s going on in schools, but he welcomes the opportunity to talk about it.

“This is a manufactured term to incite, to try to divide us,” Burke said.

“Boom,” said Sen. Bobby Powell, a Democrat from West Palm Beach, nodding in approval.

Roth also wanted to know if “gender fluidity” was being taught. He said he’d heard enough to be concerned.

Burke said “gender fluidity” is not being taught in Palm Beach County schools, but “tolerance” is.

“We want everyone to feel welcome on our campuses,” he said.

Roth said Palm Beach County schools will be asked to prove it in specific, concrete terms.

“I’m just saying as a friendly warning that I have friends that are … requesting books and requesting materials or going to public school libraries,” Roth said.

Sen. Tina Polsky, another Democrat, said she found it “shocking” that individual school districts are being accused of this.

“We obviously have standards up at the state,” she said.

Roth, later, said he is not accusing, just trying to start a conversation.

“I brought it up so I can have an open dialogue with the superintendent,” he said.

School Board member Erica Whitfield said Wednesday’s meeting reflected what’s going on nationally with schools, and she had a plea regarding a current joint resolution that would require school board candidates to indicate their political affiliation when running.

“I’m really hopeful that you will not vote to support partisan races for school boards,” she said. “I think it could be very detrimental to the schools in the state of Florida … What we want on our school boards is people who want to represent the community and not have to pick a side.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Anthony

    November 11, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    When will reporters challenge the merits of what lawmakers say and stop reporting their falsehoods…you’re helping keeping too many of us ignorant…

  • Kenneth

    November 11, 2021 at 3:45 pm

    The following companies support, fund, Joe Biden, the Democrat party, BLM and other far left organizations. Financial BOYCOTT whenever possible the following socialist enablers. Patriots, pass this along….

    American Airlines
    American Express
    Bank of America
    Baskin Robbins
    Best Buy
    Carl’s Jr.
    Capital One
    Corona Beer
    Dell Technologies
    Delta Airlines
    Discovery channel
    Discovery Plus
    Dunkin Donuts
    Ford Motor Co.
    General Motors
    Goldman Sachs
    Jack in the Box
    Johnson & Johnson
    Levi Strauss & Co
    Little Caesars
    Lowes Hardware
    Modello Beer
    Nerd Wallet
    Pacifico Beer
    Rocket Mortgage
    Sonic Rest.I
    State Farm Insurance
    Target Stores
    The General Insurance
    United Airlines
    US Bank
    USA today
    Varo Bank
    Wells Fargo

    • Concern Citizen

      November 11, 2021 at 4:36 pm

      And how many of these companies donate dollars to Republicans or news organizations such as OAN?
      Addressing the CRT issue, how many K to 12 schools teach CRT in American? Please let me know. Also, I want no school teaching my children about our wars against the Germans. Coming from German heritage, I find it offensive that my children will learn that Germany fought the USA.

      • Darlene

        November 11, 2021 at 5:57 pm

        Zero. You think goldman sacs , face book, twitter would give money to Republicans? Your way behind. Do some research, most of the list is obviously far left. Google….. woke companies.

        • Concern Citizen

          November 11, 2021 at 7:52 pm

          Do your research my darling Darlene. Facts are interesting.

  • Carol

    November 11, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    Biden sure is one old used weakling who hates white people. To allow black activists to mind fk your child lol.

  • ScienceBLVR

    November 12, 2021 at 6:42 am

    I can suggest a few books you might find in a school library for Rick and Randy to read.. How about Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 where firemen burn books, or Inherit the Wind where ignorance trumps teachers like John T. Scopes? Here is hoping the kids are a little less cognitively challenged and more open minded than parents and politicians.

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    November 12, 2021 at 8:22 am

    Hello, to those who are far lefties above…CRT teaches our kids that racism is embedded in our country, that our country is bad. Classic Marxist/Leninist tactic to indoctrinate our children. But the far left never lets facts get in the way of their propaganda. The former Dean of the College of Education at FIU admitted to me that he was a Leninist. Get it yet?

    • Rosemarie Jensen

      November 12, 2021 at 9:58 am

      it would be nice if journalists actually fact checked and included “CRat is in fact not in state developed curriculum that has been run by republicans s since 1998. And really white people, try cleansing your racist hearts. What are you so afraid of? Being treated the way you have treated Non whites for 250 years?

      • Gail

        November 12, 2021 at 10:42 pm

        Okay let’s also teach how blacks make up the overwhelming majority incarcerated in prisons and jails and have for decades? At 13% of the population is a near trick. You’re racist keep your propaganda for your children.

  • Tom Palmer

    November 13, 2021 at 8:29 am

    It seems the burden of proof is on this Republican bozo. School officials aren’t obligated to prove anything. Besides, even if they did, the right wingers would say it was all lies because it doesn’t match what they believed going into the discussion. Lot of manufactured outrage out there.

Comments are closed.


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