COBB COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) -- Parents lined the sidewalk at the Cobb County School Board waiting to be allowed inside one-by-one to comment on whether to ban Critical Race Theory (CRT) in classrooms or not.
The Cobb County School Board engaged in a vigorous debate, at times nearly yelling in arguments over the divisive topic.
The board’s chairman Randy Scamihorn struggled to define the concept of Critical Race Theory but said he believed it is based on Marxism and he had concerns that some educators on social media indicated that they wouldn’t incorporate it in classroom lessons.
Board member Tre Hutchins asked Scamihorn to define the concept and questioned whether it was an actual practice in schools or if the ban was a response to social media and politics. The two argued with both declaring the debate had become offensive.
The CRT concept originated in the legal world. According to the American Bar Association, CRT is “a practice interrogating the role of race and racism in a society that emerged in the legal academy and spread to other fields of scholarship. It critiques how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuates a racial caste system in society.”
Critics of the anti-CRT movement argue that the concept has come to the forefront of public school debates as a result of conservative politics and not the actual classroom curriculum. Proponents of banning CRT say it has no place in classrooms. The concept is not an academic curriculum or teaching.
Very few opponents of the concept were able to define it in Thursday’s meeting, many citing comments and blogs on social media.
Leroy Emkin argued that racism does not exist in present society and race does not need to be taught in schools.
“What is there to be taught about race? We are all humans,” Emkin argued. “There is no systemic racism in this city, in this state, or in this country and anyone who claims there’s critical race theory themselves must be a racist,” the Cobb community member exclaimed.
Valerie Testman has two children in Cobb County public schools and supports having discussions on racial influences in society.
“It’s kind of hard probably to avoid those conversations this day and age, but the issue I do not believe is to avoid them,” Testman told CBS46. “It is to guide those conversations so that we make sure truths are being told at every single grade level and not anything being watered down washed over,” she said while telling another resident that no child should be made to feel bad about themselves because of their race although she said that her children have experienced negative racial sentiments while in school.
Inside the meeting, school board chairman Randy Scamihorn read a resolution declaring that the district would not allow the teaching of CRT or the 1619 Project, (which chronicles the beginnings of slavery in America), in any Cobb schools.
“Critical race theory has become a conservative talking point from people who have no idea what it is,” said school board member Charisse Davis before abstaining to vote.
The board’s three black school members abstained from voting resolution. Dr. Jaha Howard called it nonsense and ridiculous.
“We were operating with no definitions,” Dr. Howard told CBS46. “It’s embarrassing to vote on something with no definitions, so I am not going to vote for or against something that we are not clearly defining,” he explained.
The four remaining board members and Chairman Scamihorn voted yes on the resolution recommending that Superintendent Chris Ragsdale adopt a ban on CRT.
Ragsdale expressing a month ago that he will not support it in Cobb Schools stating, "As long as I am Superintendent, I will commit to keeping any theory or curriculum, which is not part of Georgia's standards, out of every Cobb County classroom."