Is Critical Race Theory Being Taught in FCPS?

Image: “Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire.” via and

Brandon Level

In November of 2017, The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and School Board (FCPS), constructed and adopted a “joint social and racial equity policy”. Ever since then, FCPS has been in the headlines for teaching what some disgruntled parents and talk show hosts call “Critical Race Theory”. 

When the policy was first adopted, it was set in place to help both boards “look intentionally, comprehensively, and systemically at barriers that may be creating gaps in opportunity…”; however looking back, some parents and educators feel that the policy has failed to achieve those goals. The policy reads, “Equity generates better economic outcomes—greater economic security for families, increased revenue for businesses, and an even stronger local economy, says a growing body of economic research.” A link to the full policy can be found here.

Critical race theory, defined is by as “a conceptual framework that considers the impact of historical laws and social structures on the present-day perpetuation of racial inequality: first used in legal analyses, and now applied in education, communication studies, and sociology.” However, more conservative leaning bodies and people such as Florida’s State Board of Education, define it as a “theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice.” With so many different definitions and opinions, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to come to agreement on the true definition.

A parent by the name of Sue Zoldack spoke at a School Board Meeting on June 24th; she reads from a study guide given to students at Chantilly Highschool for the assigned summer professional development, “Racist ideas are embedded in the formation of the US government by founding fathers, racist ideas along with economic greed are the central to the formation of this nation, meritocracy and the American dream narrative are rooted in whiteness…” She was met with applause from the crowd, and a silent school board.

There are a couple other instances of similar ideas being taught in K-12 schools here in FCPS. In a video of an 8th grade English class obtained by Dr. Karlyn Borysenko, an Organizational Psychologist and Journalist, a teacher asks her students a question. “Let’s just say you have two people who are hungry, and you possibly could give each of them a big mac… does that necessarily mean that that was equal…” She goes on, “If one person gets full off of the big mac and the other person doesn’t get full, is it still equality?… No, just because you give people the same thing doesn’t make it equal, you have to give them what they need to be equal, yes, this is equality.” In the video, the teacher acknowledges white privilege exists, an increasingly controversial issue. The 8th grade teacher told the class that the unit was developed by FCPS and that all of the 8th grade teachers in the county are all teaching reading and writing via the idea of justice or social injustice. With that being said, this curriculum was most likely a result of the equity policy.

One other prominent example of what some parents may consider to be Critical Race Theory, is when a summer learning guide for second graders was distributed at Bailey’s Elementary School for Arts and Sciences, located in FCPS. The guide links a YouTube video under the “Suggested Texts” section where the narrator reads a poem called “Safe”. At the 0:40 second mark, the narrator reads, “I feel safe when there are no police.” Those words prompted quite an uproar on twitter when the story was released by Asra Nomani. Some say that the quote was fine, and that it affirms what so many students are feeling. Others have been calling to “defund schools like this” or tweeting, “school choice should be a national mandate”, in response.

I reached out to an FCPS English teacher here at Centreville, Christopher Evans. I asked, “Do you teach Critical Race Theory in your English class?” He responded, “No, I do not. Critical Race Theory, as far as I’m aware, is a topic that is only really discussed at a few universities for students doing graduate degree work.” He also says, “At its core, the Equity Policy is meant to engender an inclusive environment for all, and I try to adhere to this in my classroom.” 

So no, looking at the textbook definition of Critical Race Theory, you’re not going to find it lodged in the FCPS curriculum. Headlines only begin to surface in the news when schools or teachers go off the script. When looking at hot topic issues like these it’s important to look at the facts and only the facts. It’s always in your best interest to check over your students’ classwork and homework to assure that they are being taught appropriate material.