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The Debate Over Critical Race Theory

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s friday, september 17th. >>>> Understanding critical race theory More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. ###### The latest data from San Diego county show that, while the current surge of covid-19 cases appears to have slowed over the past two weeks….three times as many people died from COVID-19 last week compared to the week before. . Dr. Mark Sawyer is an infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s hospital. “I’m hopeful that we’re over the immediate problem but we will have another surge unless we get a higher percentage of our population immunized.” Among the most recent deaths, 80 percent were unvaccinated and nearly all had underlying conditions. ######## The San Diego association of governments, or SANDAG, is out with their mid-year report on crime. The agency compiles statistics from all eight law enforcement agencies in San Diego county. The report says murder is down in the first six months of this year compared to last, but up from the same period in 2019. Sandag’s director of program research & management Cynthia Burke says aggravated assault is up. “those were up 20% from 2021 to 2020, but even more telling is that the percent that involves a firearm was up 55%.” property crime was up from last year, but lower than in 2019. ######### San Diego Comic-Con says badges will go on sale a week from Saturday for its event over Thanksgiving weekend. The three-day "Special Edition" convention will be the first Comic-Con event since 20-19. Convention-goers will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test to get in. Online ticket sales will start at 11 a-m on September 25th. The price of a three-day adult badge is 150-dollars. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. It’s called Critical Race Theory…. Something studied in law school as an academic framework that examines the impact of systemic racism on institutions and laws. But somehow it is now front and center in the ongoing culture war over what our children are learning in K-12 schools. KPBS’s Jade Hindmon explores what students are actually learning in school and how Critical Race Theory is being misunderstood. Schools are back in session and tensions continue to boil over at school board meetings when Critical Race Theory is mentioned. The furor is being fed by social conservatives and right-leaning media who say it is replacing the traditional teaching of history and social studies in K-12 schools. But that’s not what’s happening. In fact, If you’re taking a class on Critical Race Theory, you’re probably in law school. Khiara Bridges is a UC Berkeley law professor and the author of Critical Race Theory: A Primer. “No kindergartner that I know is familiar with the constitution. In fact, no 12th grader I know has a baseline level of knowledge to engage with critical race theory. So Critical race theory is not being taught in k-12 schools.“ 15 sec So, if Critical Race Theory isn’t being taught in K-12 schools, what is the controversy? As many schools incorporate a better understanding of the ongoing impacts of racism and bigotry in their curriculums, conservative activists are responding by pushing for sweeping bans to suppress education about race and American History. “Any conversation that proposes race still matters in American Society.... That race has an impact on whether you live or die, whether you're sick or healthy, whether you are employed or unemployed, whether you get incarcerated or not … any talk about race that is less than celebratory and says we triumphed abolished slavery and passed the civil rights act...anything that challenges that narrative and suggests we still have work to do … that’s “critical race theory” according to these conservative activists and that’s what they are trying to keep out of k-12 schools.” Let’s look at The Ramona Unified School district. The School Board there recently banned what they called 10 concepts about race from being taught in the classroom. As reported in the San Diego Union Tribune, the school board president said the goal is to make sure lessons focus on American Exceptionalism. “The goal of banning critical race theory or ethnic studies is to maintain this idea of a White, masculin, Christian American exceptionalism and that's precisely what is so dangerous about these bans.” Sara Clarke Kaplan is a professor of ethnic studies and executive director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. She says Ramona Unified’s ban and those like it across the country are actually seeking to remove ethnic studies from the classroom. I think we can think of American Exceptionalism as justifying Andrew Jackson's crusade against indigenous people, as originating a trail of tears, as suggesting that Africans who were kidnapped and enslaved were in fact being saved from their dark life in Africa. All of these deeply oppressive systems have their roots in American Exceptionalism.10:04 Scholars argue that Ethnic Studies curriculums help correct the myth of American Exceptionalism by highlighting the untold struggles and contributions of people who’ve been historically marginalized. “Once we can diagnose a situation and understand that we have a role to play in it then we are obligated to think about how to change the parts of it we don’t lik ... That’s what ethnic studies does… How do you understand history, sociology, cultural production and how do you understand how we can change it? That’s the goal. Not to make people feel bad. And to that point … Bridges says it’s time to move the conversation beyond erroneous terms and the manufactured conflict over Critical Race Theory. Do you want our kids to learn the full scope of American History...the good, bad ugly and unfinished? Do you want our kids to learn everything about this country or a myth? I think most sober thinkers would say let's teach them everything because that’s the only weapon we have against repeating the mistakes of our past.” Jade Hindmon KPBS News. ########## As the nation celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, one local community college is promoting a special program to support Latino students in transferring to a four-year university. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has the story. The Grossmont College program is called PUENTE...the spanish word for “bridge”. Puente students are Latino and often the first in their family to go to college. They receive one-on-one counseling, mentoring, and classes in English proficiency. The goal is to get them to graduation...Veracruz Sanchez is a PUENTE professor and graduate of the program. SOT :11 ““We need to tell our students that ..yes...they can go to school...yes they can go to college...and yes they can more importantly graduate. I don’t think being a Latino is a disadvantage. It’s the thing that makes us strong.” Professor Sanchez is also an author of three Chicano-themed books. MGP KPBS News ########## A weekend long event that provides resources to Veterans is underway in Vista. KPBS north county reporter Tania Thorne gives us the details. Green Oak Ranch in Vista is a place of healing for US veterans this weekend. For the 5th year, North County Veterans Stand Down brings resources for Veterans to one place. Kelly Luisi with Homeless Veterans of San Diego says this year the event is needed more than ever. “Were coming off such a difficult year with COVID and the eviction moratorium that were seeing more and more homeless, younger veterans and more and more families. The event is open to all veterans, their families, and their pets until Sunday at noon. TT KPBS News. ########## Coming up.... a lucha libre league is coming to san diego this weekend, hoping to branch out to a new generation of fans of Mexican wrestling. We’ll have that story next, just after the break. If you’re looking for the high flying theatrics and over the top flair of lucha libre, or Mexican Wrestling, you don’t have to go south of the border to see it in person. In fact, you only have to go as far as Logan Heights, where Mujeres Brewery is exposing a new generation of fans to the traditional spectacle. It’s happening tomorrow at 6:30PM. Take a listen... San Diego Union-Tribune Reporter Andrea Lopez Villafana covered the story. She spoke with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon. That was San Diego Union-Tribune Reporter Andrea Lopez Villafana, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon. You can watch Lucha Libre this saturday at 6:30pm at Mujeres Brewery. That’s it for the podcast today. Tomorrow and sunday we’ll have special bonus episodes of the podcast featuring KPBS’ Summer Music series. In the meantime, be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a wonderful weekend.

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What exactly is critical race theory and why are some people so up in arms about it in our schools? Legal scholars say the concept has been hijacked, rebranded and is being used as a political weapon by conservative activists who don't want ethnic studies taught in school. Plus, at Grossmont College the Puente Program supports Latino students through graduation. And, a Logan Heights brewery is hosting a regular showing of Lucha Libre — the high flying traditional sport of Mexican wrestling.