Controversy over critical race theory hits higher ed

Oklahoma City Community College will offer a summer Race & Ethnicity course after a "pause"
By: | June 8, 2021
Several states have banned teaching critical race theory in K-12 schools and some lawmakers are now turning their attention to higher education.Several states have banned teaching critical race theory in K-12 schools and some lawmakers are now turning their attention to higher education.

The controversies over critical race theory that have roiled K-12 are creeping into college curriculums in several states.

Kansas’ state universities must generate a list of courses that cover critical race theory after a state senator asked the Board of Regents to look into the topic, The Kansas City Star reported.

The board oversees the University of Kansas and Kansas State, Wichita State, Emporia State University, Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State universities.

The request was made by state Sen. Brenda Dietrich, a Topeka Republican. “I think that’s really one of the most important things we do as legislators: we find out information and we pass it on to our constituents. I think we have an obligation to make sure it’s accurate,” Dietrich told The Kansas City Star.

Elsewhere, Oklahoma City Community College administrators announced the school would offer a summer Race & Ethnicity course as originally planned. The college had hit “pause” on the class while its Academic Affairs and legal counsel made sure it did not violate a state law banning the teaching of critical race theory.

The only change is that the course is now optional, rather than a requirement in a respiratory therapist degree program. The college has also added other courses that meet that degree requirement.

“We aim to lower the temperature of extreme positions, to expose our students to a wide range of views about the complexities of race and ethnicity, and to challenge our students to think, practice civil discourse and debate, and embrace every opportunity to learn about experiences others have had that are different than their own,” the college said a statement. “This includes sober reflection and instruction about the legacy of racism in the United States.”

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have introduced a bill that would ban “race or sex stereotyping” in K-12 and college instruction, the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal reported.

The bill would also bar University of Wisconsin system schools and technical colleges from making employees participate in anti-sexism and anti-racism training.