MISHAWAKA, Ind. — Penn Harris Madison’s 2018 teacher of the year gave an impassioned speech at the school district’s board meeting earlier this week where she spoke up against a proposed resolution banning Critical Race Theory in curriculum by claiming CRT isn’t being taught. There’s only one problem — she literally wrote her 2021 master’s thesis about how she incorporates CRT into her teaching and gave a roadmap on how CRT could be adopted by teachers district-wide.
“No, Critical Race Theory is not part of my curriculum.” Penn High School Early College Academy English Teacher, Danielle Black, stated. “But to say a communications teacher shouldn’t teach students to use their voices is simply ludacris. So, if we adopt something that specifically forbids the teaching of CRT, I could face disciplinary action for simply doing my job of encouraging all of my students to use their voices.”
Black gave the prepared speech to board members on Monday night as they were discussing whether or not to add the CRT resolution to its agenda. The board ended up voting 5-2 against the resolution.
“Public school teachers are almost never indoctrinators and should never be feared or fought against based on that erroneous belief, which it feels like you’re doing when you bring up the need for a CRT resolution.” Black said. “You can trust the teachers of PHM that we are teaching what we say we are.”
Black also took several shots at REAL News Michiana without naming the news outlet.
“In 2021, I started being maligned with accusations of liberal teaching due to my graduate thesis using Critical Race Theory as a framework for better understanding my students.” She said. “For the past year and a half, I fight a debilitating and well founded fear because of twisted narratives about me personally. Speaking up today brings up that terror afresh. But, this is too important no to finally speak… We’re living under constant fear of being misrepresented.”
In Black’s speech, she made erroneous claims that she was being misrepresented. When, in fact, RNM published her entire thesis for everyone to read for themselves. This was done to ensure nothing was taken out of context. All 42 pages of her thesis, in which she gives detailed descriptions of CRT being incorporated into her curriculum, can be read below.
Black submitted her Thesis titled, Raised (Counter) Voices: the Power of Sponsorship and Culturally Relevant Teaching, as part of her English M.A. from IUSB.
The abstract of the thesis describes her paper, in part, as the following: “All of these research goals are implemented through the frameworks of literacy sponsorship, Critical Race Theory, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, and Funds of Knowledge scholarship to establish connections between our particular case study and larger conversations about combatting structural racism.”
Black’s paper focuses on the fallout from the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, and an erroneous open letter from a group of democrat, socialist activists to PHM in which “alumni and students” claimed the school district was structurally racist. The letter lies and takes incidents out of context to prove the district was involved in overt and unconscious racist behavior. You can read that open letter here.
Black’s paper is essentially a roadmap of how to indoctrinate more students and teachers in communist Critical Race Theory teachings.
“I felt it was urgent to bring more research to bear, to gather scholarly contexts for understanding and addressing the work of structural racism in our community.” She writes in the beginning of the thesis.
However, Black also lays out how she has already implemented CRT in her own classroom.
“In the fall after the events of Summer 2020, I entered my public speaking class with some new curriculum ideas pushing for greater racial awareness and justice.” She wrote, while then describing her goal of destroying “a monolithic Whites-only viewpoint.”
She also talks about anti-police lessons she taught in multiple classes.
In Comm 101, she discusses “a lesson modified from Teaching for Black Lives dealing with the topic of police violence toward African-American men.”
She also writes about a “Cafe Conversation using expert and student-created poetry related to police violence.”
In the paper, Black focuses much of her thesis on something she calls “Counternarratives,” which is devoid of factual information, and simply runs off of how someone feels about a particular scenario. She then credits Critical Race Theorists for the idea.
“Critical Race theorist Richard Delgado begins by describing how counternarratives allow us to ‘sharpen our concern, enrich our experience, and provide access to stories beyond the stock tale.’” She wrote. “There is a… growing interest in this methodology of counter storytelling to fight racism and highlight voices of color. In their seminal work on Critical Race Theory, the framework that highlights the tenet of counternarratives, Delgado and Stefancic state, ‘Stories can give (victims of racial discrimination) a voice and reveal that others have similar experiences. Stories can name a type of discrimination (e.g. microaggressions, unconscious discrimination, or structural racism); once named, it can be combated.’”
“By welcoming counternarratives, educators are actually serving to empower their students toward greater understanding and empathy.” Black also wrote. “While critical race theory work sometimes threatens to be discouraging and hopeless, it also offers power to the disenfranchised through, among other opportunities, counternarrative expression.”
“While even the simplest of counternarratives… serve as crucial tools in combating monolithic stories and making sure all voices are heard, it was the seminal work of Gloria Ladson-Billings and William Tate and expanded by scholars such as Geneva Gay, that moved CRT into the educational landscape fully.” She wrote at one point.
One of Black’s stated goals is to continue to push CRT onto everyone within the district.
“I was concerned that the momentum inspired by the open letter (as mentioned above) might fade and that the attention of the school administration might shift away from the hard work toward racial justice.” She wrote. “There needs to be more system-wide professional development of educators and more accountability so that all students have these same opportunities to learn about and confront racism.”
She also discusses how CRT was put into PHM’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. She describes how some teachers “bought in” to the SEL curriculum, but goes on to say not all have.
“Penn High School administration and leaders conducted professional development prior to the event so teachers were more prepared, but it was not enough. As a result, one student reported, “In my class there was confusion though. It was suggested that we be ‘colorblind.’ — ‘Clearly, more teaching of teachers needs to take place.’” She wrote, while suggesting CRT should be taught to children as young as toddlers. “Even toddlers can have educated teachers who teach equitable lessons that empower children of color and grow all toward a more equitable world; however, it’s going to take a systematic approach.”
The paper seems to ignore any criticism of CRT teachings, which essentially say white people are oppressors and people of color are the oppressed. Instead, she appears to push to divide students by race even further in the concluding pages of her thesis.
“If students of color are asking us to lead in this area, no matter our level of comfort, educators and school systems as a whole owe it to them to do it.” She wrote. “All students will benefit from more education and more action regarding racism.”
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Her reaction is typical of anyone who is guilty of doing exactly what they say they are not doing.
Her fear of “disciplinary action” for “simply doing my job” would never happen if “Critical Race Theory is not part of my curriculum” and “…the teachers of PHM … are teaching what we say we are.” This is nothing but hypocrisy. If she is indeed a “communications teacher”, then she failed miserably with her speech.
Keep going, James and Matt; You know you’re over the target when the hornets start swarming. You have the community support.
Oh my, I would be so embarrassed if I were her. How humiliating.