CRT and SEL: The Hidden Agenda in Chatham County Schools

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

Chatham County, North Carolina schools are apparently mired in politically biased curricula and serious disciplinary issues. The upcoming midterms have ignited tensions in North Carolina's Chatham County School District among parents and teachers alike. An anonymous teacher/whistleblower in the School District came forward in mid-August with a large file of photos of materials from the District's required "racial consciousness training" conducted in early August. Senior administrators were required to attend a 2-day "white privilege" training. Teachers and counselors were mandated to undergo 2.5 hours of equity training prior to starting school.

The teacher also shared a training agenda for the Spring of 2022. Many of the materials are from the Pacific Education Group, a Left-leaning educational consulting firm "focusing on consulting and training services around racial equity and critical race theory." Other materials were from Dr. Duchess Maye's EduConsulting firm, which focuses on SEL, among other things. Several examples of the materials are shared below:

[gallery type="slideshow" size="large" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="44345,44346,44347,44348"]

Critical Race Theory (CRT), Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and other indoctrinating programs that favor "protected classes" like race and gender identity are becoming the norm in schools across the country. Many parents and teachers fear that schools are sacrificing the basics like reading, writing, and arithmetic in favor of what are, for many, politically charged concepts. They also feel the curriculum increases divisiveness in schools by focusing on the color of one's skin and other superficial traits that have little to do with the temperament or character of the individual. Detractors of CRT and SEL maintain that the family unit is a better environment to discuss how best to navigate the treatment of others and moral issues.

Many parents and teachers in the District feel the school board and its recently hired Superintendent Anthony Jackson are "actively working to hide the CRT curriculum," according to Amy Kappelman, a parent in the District. Kappelman told UncoverDC that Jackson is also allegedly working to integrate "anti-racist education" in the schools. The Superintendent and administrators have attended WeARE training, an organization dedicated to "distmant[ling] systemic racism in education." Video introduction here.

WeARE/anti-racist training

Some in the District say, "What's the big deal? This has been going on for years." While that may be true, parents do not like being lied to, and because of the hidden agendas, many parents are not aware of the politically biased curricula being taught in the schools. The school board often ignores parents and categorically denies the teachings using the usual trope that "CRT is only being taught in universities." Unfortunately, the evidence does not seem to support that notion. It is difficult to have constructive conversations about an existing curriculum when school districts deny its existence. Many parents in the District feel completely unheard.

Incidentally, John Amanchukwu spoke at the Sept. 12 school board meeting. Amanchukwu is a youth pastor who "is concerned with all children whether they are black, white, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, other or Asian. It really doesn't matter." He wrote the book Eraced as an answer to Ibram X. Kendi's book, How to Be an Antiracist. His remarks on CRT in the schools can be viewed below:

According to Kappelman's notes from the Sept. 12 Chatham County School Board meeting,  the room for the meeting was strangely arranged to allow school board members to have "their backs to the community members in attendance. This arrangement was opposite of meetings held in the Old Courthouse and Horton Middle School where they faced the audience and seemed like a strategic choice." Rules for public comment were changed last minute. Board members also allegedly treated proponents of the curriculum more favorably. This kind of behavior has emerged to be all too common in districts across the country. An excerpt of the meeting notes follows below:

School Board Meeting/Chatham County/Sept. 12

Woke "Disciplinary Measures" Lead to Increased Unruly Conduct

Parents and teachers are also deeply concerned about discipline in schools. According to Kappelman, a parent of four children in the District, Jackson has been extremely soft on discipline in the schools. She told UncoverDC that after two years of at-home learning, many children in the District are not only behind academically but also "unruly and out of control." She added:

"Many of the children are out of control. Teachers are being told not to discipline them. Meaningful consequences for their behavior is non-existent. Teachers' hands are tied. They don't feel like they have the ability or the community and administrative support to control the kids in their classrooms because the District has aligned itself with the restorative justice curriculum that uses "Talking Circles" to manage out-of-control kids. So many teachers are leaving in the county. Many left last year because they are not allowed to discipline their students. One teacher told a parent she loves the kids, but she wants to leave because of the lack of concern for the needs of the teachers in the classrooms from the leadership. Teachers are telling parents they badly need help with unruly students and are often asked to do more with the little time they have, like driving buses. Parents are also hearing that more teachers want to leave, but they are now being given a sign-on bonus to coerce them to stay. If they don't stay, they have to pay it back." 

"In addition, most of our schools share school resource officers (SROs). Fights break out all the time in the parking lot where her daughter attends high school and no one does anything. One time the kids were fighting. Parents arrived and then they started fighting. It is ridiculous."

Reliable law enforcement is an important part of discipline in schools. The county sheriff is in charge of assigning SROs. According to Kappelman, the current Sheriff, Mike Roberson, is completely derelict. Kappelman happens to know the candidate running to replace him in November. She forwarded some telling statistics from the candidate for Sheriff, Marcus Globuschutz, that are telling of Roberson's leadership.

There are 176 staff member positions with 53 openings. Over 100 have quit or retired since July 2021; that's 2.5 million to 3 million tax dollars spent on training and equipping these officers. On average, there are 5 deputies working 707 sq miles. At times it's 3 or 4 working. Michael Roberson is on his 5th vehicle in 6 years as Sheriff. One guy has been working drugs for the last 3.5 years in this county. Just recently, Michael added 2 more since I started calling him out. Memorial Day weekend, he and his wife were caught Joy riding on the lake on the Sheriff's Office Boat.

Roberson makes the deputies work 25 hrs per year on community service projects on their own time. If they do not do it, they are not eligible for raises or promotions. In the last 2 years, 1 deputy was arrested for DWI in a county car, 1 arrested for DWI, 1 arrested for a sex offense with a child, 1 arrested for discharging a weapon in Pittsboro while drinking and 1 fired for trying to sell a stolen car, that he knew that it was stolen. Overdoses are on track to be up 2400+% since being elected Sheriff in 2016. Violent crime is up 50.6% in Chatham Co since Roberson took office. On average violent crime has decreased in NC by 4% in the same time frame.

Globuschutz says the sharing of SROs in schools is problematic. He said that while there is an SRO in every high school, many schools share. "In Siler City, one SRO covers Chatham Middle, Siler City Elementary, and Virginia Cross. (Possibly Silk Hope Too). Bennett shares one with Bonlee, JS Waters, and Moncure. Horton Middle shares with JS Waters and Pittsboro Elementary. I don't know about how Perry Harrison, North Chatham, but I'm sure there are only two schools per SRO up there."

Political Bias May Be Affecting Disciplinary Decisions

One of the more disturbing issues in Chatham County schools is the alleged disparity in the treatment of students. It is a treatment that seems to be dependent on where one's beliefs fall on the political spectrum. In March, there was an incident on the playground at J.S. Waters School in Goldston. A group of children were playing a game about slavery. They staged a slave auction and one of the children chosen to be a slave was a bi-racial child. The children were allegedly putting bids on the slaves and "one student was the Slavemaster because 'he knew how to handle them.'" It caused a huge uproar. The children were suspended. Chatham Organizing for Racial Equality (CORE) was called in. The Superintendent wrote a stern letter. Multiple meetings to help with the "trauma" were held.

On the other hand, a father at the Sept. 12 board meeting told the story of the way his daughter was "bullied" for her religious beliefs by her teacher with "no corrective actions." Ryne Smith said that his 8th grader, Mattie, was "bullied for her faith." He wrote the following comments below, which are accompanied by his public comments in this video at the September school board meeting.

"What all this is about is where Mattie, my daughter, was bullied for her faith. The teacher asked her what her 3 favorite things were. She said Art, Basketball, [and] the Bible. Meaning her Bible. The teacher asked what she thought of the God of the Old Testament versus the God of the New Testament. She said she really didn't know cause she is still studying the Old Testament. He then proceeded to bully her about her faith in front of her class. He told her that his wife was an Atheist and they did not believe in God and that there was no God. Telling her God is not real cause you can not psychically see him or touch him. He then used a brick wall as an example of something that is real. You can psychically see it and touch it. I'm assuming he doesn't believe in gravity also. I have went through the principal and also the assistant superintendent and the superintendent, plus talked with a school board member. They said they have done something about it but being it was not a repetitive offense, he could not be dismissed. He bullied my daughter in front of the whole class when all he had to do was just move on. She has a first amendment right to her religion. He violated that. The teacher tried to proselytize the kids in that classroom. Indoctrination in the classroom. The schools are supposed to be neutral grounds. All the school has to say is that it's handled. Why is that bully still in the classroom? This was the first day of school. He is a new teacher. We have not seen any punishment or corrective actions. Will you please help me get the word out so this cannot be overlooked.? Thank you. Ryne Smith"

Chatham County School District in North Carolina is small and diverse, with "19 schools and 8,832 students with a minority enrollment of 50%. 26.3% of students are economically disadvantaged." University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is right next door in Orange County. Many of its professors and staff live in Chatham, taking advantage of the lower taxes and relatively comfortable rural lifestyle. Durham is also an adjacent county. All are relatively Liberal politically due to the university system and transients from some big cities in the northeast.

Amy Kappelman is a mother and parent of four children in the District. She is the Chair of Moms for Liberty in Chatham County. She is committed to getting a more representative balance of perspectives on the Chatham County School Board. Moms for Liberty has endorsed school board candidate Jessica Winger, a school board candidate and also a mother of four. Winger's platform espouses the "rebuilding of trust between families and schools" and "an unbiased education" for all children. She is a Parent Representative on a School's Leadership Team (SLT), an active PTA member, and a substitute teacher for Chatham County Schools.

Tim Moore is also running for the Board of Education. He is a veteran, married for 35 years with 5 children, 4 of whom are adopted. He believes parents have a right to know what is being taught in schools. He wants to return to the basics of reading, writing, math, and science. He is also very concerned about the mental health of our youth. He wants teachers to have the support they need to recognize mental health disorders in children.

*This column was amended to include Tim Moore, candidate for the school board in Chatham County. The omission was inadvertent.

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