Critical Race Theory


We’re a district that serves majority Students of Color, and racial equity work is foundational to our strategic priorities, all of which directly impact student outcomes. When it comes to our District’s racial equity work, our policy focuses on eliminating bias, particularly racism, bigotry, and cultural bias, as factors affecting student achievement and learning experiences.

There are widely differing understandings of what Critical Race Theory means. This webpage provides accurate information about racial equity work in District 287 and our position on Critical Race Theory.

In the words of Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council of Great City Schools:
“If our history makes some people uncomfortable, then so be it. If some people need to be reminded that everyone was born equal and that no one is superior to anyone else, then let’s remind them. If some people are surprised to learn that our culture and institutions, including our own schools, have advantaged some and disadvantaged others, then it’s about time. This is not an unfortunate by-product—this is the purpose of education. And it is perhaps the most patriotic act possible. Because if we believe that our children are heirs to a great nation that is striving to be better and more equitable, then we need to make sure that they understand both the history of that nation, and the important role they will play in determining its future. In our quest for a more perfect union, a great nation is not afraid of or threatened by this history or the discussion of it. On the contrary, it is our ongoing dialogue and steady—if not smooth—progress toward justice and equality that makes us great.”

Superintendent Position Statement on Critical Race Theory

We’re a district that serves majority Students of Color, and racial equity work is foundational to our strategic priorities, all of which directly impact student outcomes. We understand that fixing our education system for Students of Color benefits all students. When it comes to our District’s racial equity work, our policy focuses on eliminating bias, particularly racism, bigotry, and cultural bias, as factors affecting student achievement and learning experiences.

Do we explicitly teach Critical Race Theory (CRT) as part of the curriculum in the classroom? No. CRT is just that - a theory. It was developed over 40 years ago by lawyers, activists, and legal scholars and may be taught in some universities’ Masters or Doctoral programs. It is not included in the Minnesota Department of Education’s K-12 Social Studies Standards and is not taught in our schools.

We do, however, embed racial equity work in our schools. What does that look like?

It means we teach history from all sides, making sure the history of Indigenous people, Black people, and immigrant groups are represented in social studies. It means we promote culturally responsive teaching by connecting students’ cultures, languages, and life experiences with what they learn in school. It means that we recognize that race-related trauma plays a role in our student’s mental health, and we focus on Social Emotional Learning strategies and trauma-responsive practices that support them. It means we proudly honor graduates with “Bilingual Seals” for their multilingual abilities. It means we encourage conversations about race, looking at data by race which helps us take meaningful actions and measure progress toward student achievement, and ask staff members to participate in professional development about race. It especially means that we examine our practices and policies to determine what changes are necessary so that we can produce more equitable outcomes for students.

We use a Racial Equity Impact Analysis Tool in our decision-making to ensure that racial equity is front-and-center in discussions, and examine how Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and low wealth communities may be affected by a proposed action or decision of the District. This tool prompts us to ask: What are the racial equity impacts of this decision, who will benefit from and/or be burdened by this decision, and are there strategies to mitigate any unintended consequences of this decision?

In the Twin Cities, we’re still suffering and healing from the pain we all went through when George Floyd was murdered a little over a year ago. Our students, families, staff, and community are grieving. In my school district, which focuses on trauma-responsive practices, we found that talking about race and racism is essential for individual and community healing. The research around trauma is clear: unprocessed trauma leads to more harm. We’re focused on healing, and racial equity work is part of that healing.

There are widely differing understandings of what CRT means. Misinformation campaigns promote the idea that there isn’t a race problem in America. In my state, we have one of the largest racial achievement gaps in the nation. As a white woman and an educational leader, I can tell you that these gaps have everything to do with the failure of our systems to support students, in particular Students of Color. Students who are BIPOC are hurting while we are spending time getting comfortable being uncomfortable having conversations about race.

There is a lot at stake for our nation. When public schools don’t serve students well, especially Students of Color, it contributes to substandard learning opportunities and poor life outcomes. There has been bi-partisan acknowledgment and work over the past few decades to hold schools accountable for helping all students thrive. We are making progress, but it's still not fast enough, which is why our focus on racial equity now is essential.

Superintendent Sandy Lewandowki

Equity and Non-Discrimination Policy

Image of document

In January 2020, the District 287 School Board approved a revised equity and non-discrimination policy that focuses on the elimination of bias, particularly racism, bigotry, and cultural bias, as factors affecting student achievement and learning experiences, and to promote learning and work environments that welcome, respect, and value diversity.

District 287 uses a Racial Equity Impact Analysis Tool to examine how Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and low wealth communities may be affected by a proposed action or decision of the district.

Critical Race Theory, in the context of District 287’s policy, assists the district to understand the role of race and racism in its educational policies, practices, and decisions. 

Equity and Non-Discrimination Policy

Information and Reading

Information icon

There is a lot of misinformation spread about what Critical Race Theory is and isn't. We recommend reading the following articles to gain a stronger understanding of Critical Race Theory.

Washington Post: Critical race theory: Experts break down what it actually means

Contact District 287

Image of a contact form

We understand your interest in expressing your personal views to our elected officials and administration. We will provide your message to District leaders. However, please know that we prioritize responding to members of our school community, such as parents of District 287 students.

Contact District 287 about Critical Race Theory.


FAQs

Does 287 teach Critical Race Theory?

Do we explicitly teach Critical Race Theory as part of the curriculum in the classroom? No - it’s a theory that was developed over 40 years ago by lawyers, activists, and legal scholars and may be taught in some universities’ Master’s or Doctoral programs. It is not included in the Minnesota Department of Education’s K-12 Social Studies Standards and not taught in our schools. 

Here’s are some examples of what District 287 does teach:  

  • They teach history from all sides, making sure the history of Indigenous people, Black people, and immigrant groups are represented in American history teaching. 
  • They promote culturally responsive teaching by connecting students’ cultures, languages, and life experiences with what they learn in school. 
  • They recognize that race-related trauma plays a role in our students’ mental health and we focus on Social Emotional Learning strategies and trauma-responsive practices that support them.
  • They proudly honor graduates with “Bilingual Seals” for their extraordinary multilingual abilities.
  • They examine our practices and policies to determine what/if changes are necessary so that we produce more equitable outcomes for students.
Is Critical Race Theory in your district's policy?

Yes. In January 2020, the District 287 School Board approved a revised equity and non-discrimination policy that focuses on the elimination of bias, particularly racism, bigotry, and cultural bias, as factors affecting student achievement and learning experiences, and to promote learning and work environments that welcome, respect, and value diversity.

Critical Race Theory, in the context of District 287’s policy, assists the district to understand the role of race and racism in its educational policies, practices, and decisions. 

Equity and Non-Discrimination Policy

Does 287 partner with The 1619 Project?

Yes. Last year District 287 began an ethnic studies project that supports students in middle and high school to explore African American History as it relates to their personal and family experiences, community, future goals and aspirations.

District 287’s partnership with The 1619 Project Education Network has helped develop this new course. Critical Race Theory is not embedded in this curriculum. No funds from our school district were used to develop this project, as it is funded through a grant, which was approved on the consent agenda in June 2021. Additionally, no students currently participate in the ethnic studies course as it is not yet being offered.

The 1619 Project is one source among many for providing a wide range of perspectives and voices in helping students develop critical thinking skills, understand different viewpoints, and see their historical perspectives reflected in the curriculum. The ideas expressed help to show the contributions of African Americans in building the wealth and power of the United States and to fully realize the values of democracy, equality, and liberty embedded in our founding principles.

What is the Racial Equity Impact Analysis Tool?

District 287 uses a Racial Equity Impact Analysis Tool to examine how Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and low wealth communities may be affected by a proposed action or decision of the district.

  • Who participated in completing this analysis?
  • What are the racial equity impacts of this decision?
  • Who will benefit from and/or be burdened by this decision?
  • Are there strategies to mitigate any unintended consequences of this decision?

Racial Equity Impact Analysis Tool

Is Critical Race Theory included in State Standards?

No. Critical Race Theory is not included in the Minnesota Department of Education’s K-12 Social Studies Standards and is not taught in District 287 schools.

Do you teach/train your staff in Critical Race Theory?

No. Critical Race Theory is not taught to our staff. However, we may use some of the concepts of Critical Race Theory when developing professional development for our leaders and staff. For example, examining practices that create or contribute to inequities, is a tenet of Critical Race Theory, which is a regular practice in our district to ensure equitable outcomes for students.