A top House Republican is accusing New York education officials of using federal pandemic-relief funds to promote “critical race theory” in public schools across the state.
Upstate Congresswoman Elise Stefanik recently fired off a letter to state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa demanding a “complete accounting” of how her department is spending the billions of dollars it received in COVID-19 emergency funding — including for any CRT-related instruction.
“I write with serious concern that the New York State Education Department (NYSED) is using federal taxpayer dollars provided through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to promote Critical Race Theory under the guise of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education (CRSE),,” writes Stefanik, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, in the letter provided to The Post.
Stefanik said New York’s school coronavirus-relief spending plan talks about addressing “anti-racism and anti-bias,” “privilege” and “implicit bias” — instead of solely focusing on learning loss and academic achievement.
“This formulation of anti-racism is not about upholding the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, but instead advocates for the discriminatory treatment of Americans on the basis of race,” the congresswoman seethed.
“Shrouding the racist and divisive ideology of Critical Race Theory with vague and seemingly innocuous terminology does not diminish the harm it poses to students.”
Stefanik’s letter was sent to Rosa on the same day The Post revealed that some New York City schools have been offering an inflammatory children’s book titled “Our Skin.”
The book teaches kids as young as 2 that the concept of race was created by white people who claimed they were “better, smarter, prettier, and that they deserve more than everybody else.”
It adds that “racism is also the things people do and the unfair rules they make about race so that white people get more power.”
As for the state’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan, it urges schools to “address critical topics related to personal, student, and community well-being, including trauma-responsive practices, social emotional learning, restorative practices, mental health education, culturally and linguistically responsive-sustaining practices, implicit bias and structural racism, and facilitating difficult conversations about race.”
In her letter to Rosa, Stefanik requests a listing of all “social emotional learning”-related activities in New York schools, as well as “any memos or other materials discussing the decision to use the federal pandemic funds to support Critical Race Theory. ”
State education officials denied to The Post on Sunday that federal pandemic funds are being used to implement CRT in New York schools.
The Education Department said the funds are being used to support the safe return of in-person instruction, addressing the impact of lost instructional time through interventions such through summer learning and extended day and after-school programs or extended school year programs.
The funds also address “the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on economically disadvantaged students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care,” the statement said.
“None of the policies or initiatives advanced by NYSED or the Board of Regents are related to Critical Race Theory,” the department added.
“The Department is committed to ensuring New York’s schools are places where all students are welcomed and supported, provided with equitable opportunities to succeed, and valued for the cultures, languages, and life experiences they bring to the classroom.”