Teachers who are already overworked and underpaid now have to worry about the growing anti-Critical Race Theory movement and the impacts of its legislation in the classroom. Kim Morrison, an English teacher at Greenfield High School in Missouri, was fired after parents accused her of teaching Critical Race Theory, as reported by the Springfield News-Leader. The school board voted not to renew Morrison’s contract after allegations surfaced about a worksheet she used as part of teaching the book “Dear Martin.”
The young adult novel, written by Nic Stone, tells the story of a Black high school student who goes to a predominantly white preparatory high school. He falls victim to police violence and, to make sense of it, writes letters to the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr wondering what he would do. Morrison used a supplemental 15-question worksheet called “How Racially Privileged Are You?” as part of the book’s lesson plan. Afterward, Morrison was called to the principal’s office after receiving “ many complaints” from parents.
“That first meeting, when [the principal] showed me that she had a copy of the handout and she wanted to know the context, she said the people she’s hearing from said that this is CRT,” Morrison told the News-Leader. “I said ‘Well, it’s not CRT. I don’t know what CRT is because I didn’t go to law school and we didn’t cover it in grad school. This isn’t it.’”
“I said discussing racism is not CRT and she said she understood but that this is what she is hearing.”
Morrison explained that she purchased it from a database of instructional materials. It was intended to help students examine their own experiences and vantage point. “It was to prepare students for the conversation that was going to happen between two characters that we were about to read,” she said.
The teacher was called to the office again in mid-March, then asked to meet with Superintendent Chris Kell after school on March 16. The board voted not to renew Morrison’s contract in a closed session.
“Your decision to incorporate the worksheet associated with the novel ‘Dear Martin,’ due to the content and subject matter,” read a letter from the superintendent.
Kell pointed out this was the first time that accusations of critical race theory had been pinned on a teacher in the district.
“We have the best interests of our students, our community, our staff,” he said. “That’s why we are here. We are trying to provide that school district that everybody can be proud of. In a situation like this, it comes down to a school board vote at this point. I don’t feel like we teach critical race theory in our district.”