On May 10, Washougal School Board member Jim Cooper watched a livestream of the Camas School Board’s meeting, during which several parents discussed their concerns about critical race theory (CRT), an academic movement that examines social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism.
The next day, Cooper’s inbox was full of emails from Washougal parents, who parroted many of the talking points — some word-for-word — from the Camas meeting.
Cooper, who considers himself to be a reasonably well-educated and informed person, said he didn’t know too much about CRT, so he spent the next two weeks educating himself about the theory, even participating in a day-long equity conference sponsored by the Washington State School Directors Association.
“I learned that CRT is a distinct academic discipline within the fields of law and social science, but I also learned the words ‘critical race theory’ have taken on many different meanings to different people, rendering these terms less than useful,” Cooper said during the Washougal School Board’s May 25 meeting. “Indeed, the sudden emergence of the (letters) ‘CRT’ on the lips of parents and community members is amazing, something that never could’ve happened before information and misinformation were able to spread virally through social media channels.”
Cooper and several other board members delivered a strong message to those who believe the Washougal School District’s proposed equity, diversity and inclusion policy contains CRT during their May 25 virtual meeting.