Conservative group wants teachers to wear bodycams so they won't teach Critical Race Theory

14 July 2020, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: A police officer is wearing a body cam. Photo: Sebastia...
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Critical Race Theory has become the latest shibboleth to be stripped of all context and meaning to serve, instead, as a catch-all term for any sort of educational framework that conservatives don't like. The fact that it is, in actuality, a very specific academic construct with a very specific definition is irrelevant to the growing chorus of Republican lawmakers who have co-opted the term. For the GOP, Critical Race Theory is an amorphous boogieman, useful as part of their ongoing effort to impose restrictive parameters in the classroom.

In Nevada, that debate has produced one of the most appalling efforts on the part of right wing groups yet: a plan to outfit teachers with body cameras, like those worn by police, to ensure they don't sneak any unapproved thoughts on history and racism into their lessons. According to the Associated Press, the conservative Nevada Family Alliance put forth the idea of turning the classroom into a panopticon in response to a Washoe County plan to expand the district's elementary school curriculum.

"You guys have a serious problem with activist teachers pushing politics in the classroom, and there’s no place for it, especially for our fifth graders," Karen England, the groups Executive Director said.

In a statement to Newsweek, England was up front about the proposal's goals as both a surveillance technique, and chilling mechanism.

"Creating a record that could be viewed by appropriate parties, if necessary, might be the best way to urge teachers to stick to traditional teaching," England said.

"If police do a better job interacting with the public when they are wearing body cameras, how much more important is it for teachers to do the same?" she continued.

Putting aside the fact that England's premise isn't actually true, her comparison is noteworthy in that it it views both police and teachers through the same lense, rather than acknowledging the seismic differences between someone whose job is to enforce laws and someone tasked with teaching and inspiring.

The Washoe School District, meanwhile, has stressed on its website that any expanded curriculum proposals are designed to "provide opportunities for valuing human dignity, fostering cultural diversity, and building critical thinking."

"The materials are not aligned with Critical Race Theory," the district stated. "There has been a lot of misinformation, and we want to be clear that this is false."