ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. — In an open letter to the Penn Harris Madison School District, a group of parents called out Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker’s lies that Critical Race Theory is not being taught at Penn High School.
In the letter, the parents wrote in part:
Dr. Thacker has recently issued a public statement which says that “PHM is not teaching CRT”. We do not believe this is an accurate statement. We believe that it uses the term “CRT” in the narrow sense of the academic legal theory historically taught in graduate school, which obscures what is actually taking place in the PHM curriculum.
Through the materials released to the public via recent FOIA requests, we have been and continue to be alarmed at some of the what the district has incorporated (or intended to incorporate) into it’s “Social Emotional Learning” (S.E.L.) curriculum which have (1) associated negative characteristics with particular races, (2) referred to the idea that hard work results in achievement as a myth, and (3) equated
incredibly mainstream political slogans such as “Make America Great Again” as equivalent to the KKK and Neo-Nazis on a “Pyramid of White Supremacy”.
We see these events as evidence that despite the recent public statement to the contrary, PHM curriculum is being infiltrated by the tenets of a deeply divisive political philosophy under the guise of “anti-racism” that has come to be associated with the term Critical Race Theory (CRT). Specifically, we see the following practical aspects of CRT in the SEL curriculum:
- Promoting the idea that a person’s identity is primarily defined by the groups that they may be perceived as belonging to rather than as individuals.
- After dividing people into such groups portraying them as uniformly “oppressors” or
“oppressed”. This leads to negative stereotyping of certain groups.
- Smearing of anyone who objects to this stereotyping as a racist themselves.
This open letter comes after Dr. Thacker sent the following email to parents earlier this month, falsely denying that CRT is not being taught at Penn High School.
Dear P-H-M Families,
At the Monday, June 21, 2021, P-H-M Board meeting, I shared information regarding P-H-M’s social-emotional learning and diversity initiatives. As part of the growing national discussion about race relations, many parents are reaching out inquiring about critical race theory.
As I stated at the Board meeting and several members of the administration have stated in response to parent emails, P-H-M is not teaching critical race theory.
Many people have also requested more information about our Social Emotional Learning and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion lessons.
To help clear up misinformation and misconceptions of what we are teaching and our intentions, P-H-M will be hosting public information sessions before the start of the school year in August. We are still in the planning stages, but we will be sharing information with everyone very soon.
We hope that our students, parents, staff and community will join us to learn more. Stay tuned!
I wish you and your families a very happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.
Dr. Jerry Thacker
Superintendent of Schools
You can read the full open letter written by the parents to the school board below.