Critical Race Theory draws mixed comments at Polk County School Board meeting

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Critical Race Theory is a subject that’s continuing to spark debate in the classrooms.

Right now, critical race theory is not taught in public schools in Florida, but during a Polk County School Board meeting Tuesday, community members shared their opinions about the topic.

The concept examines the way race and racism influences politics, culture and the law.

Last month, the Florida Department of Education approved a resolution that says teaching critical race theory inside the classroom violates state standards.

The decision came at the request of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has knocked the theory.

“Let me be clear, there’s no room in our classrooms for things like critical race theory, teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money,” DeSantis said.

Terry Coney is the president of the Lakeland Branch of the NAACP, which held a forum last week to inform and educate the community about the topic.

“Some people may not like that but it’s still part of American history and we should use that to make a more perfect union,” Coney said.

Coney says the Governor and others are pushing a negative narrative on history.

“Critical race theory is being used to promote something that it’s really not.,” Coney said.

Superintendent of Polk County Public Schools Frederick Heid sat in that forum, which some in the community criticized him for.

Superintendent Heid defended his participation in the discussion and asked the community to embrace that he’s willing to take on difficult conversations and topics.

“My position is how do we best support our students,” Heid said. “We have a long way to go for all children in our community.”

Superintendent Heid says the data suggests that they have a lot of inequities for their students, which is an area they need to focus on.

“Our mission is to educate all children in an equitable manner, all means all. And right now the data does not lie, all of our students don’t have the same opportunities and we want to make sure we do that regardless of race, religion or gender,” Heid said.

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