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Utah parents, advocates weigh in on critical race theory education debate

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A group of parents in Utah are starting a campaign against teaching critical race theory in schools. (KUTV)

A group of parents, organized by the group Utah Parents United, plan to ask the Canyons School Board at a Tuesday meeting not teach critical race theory.

That’s according to a post on that group's Facebook page.

It's a term getting a lot of attention these days. Critical race theory examines the ways in which race and racism influence American politics, culture and the law. There seems to be an agreement by people on both sides of the discussion that going through the pages of history is important. It's exactly how it's done that's causing some controversy.

“In its essence, very bottom level, it is Marxism, it is Marxism teaching,” parent Gloria Vindas says of critical race theory.

Vindas has a school-aged child and thinks teaching about another race's culture is a good thing. Where she draws the line is when a specific organization is introduced into the teachings that doesn't teach the history behind the so-called movement.

“I support cultural diversity and inclusion, but I do not support an organization, especially the collegiate level curriculum that kind of trickles down into our school systems, of critical race theory,” Vindas said.

When asked what's wrong with teaching about someone else's movement, Vindas says, “then say that's what it is. Say that they're going to be teaching on that movement; don't tell us that it's something else.”

BEYOND THE BOOKS: Pushing back against understanding in Utah schools

James Yapias, the education chair of the Salt Lake NAACP branch, says it's important to understand each other.

"When we talk about critical race theory, it's not about learning about someone's specific culture, it's more about the understanding of its history,” Yapias said.

Yapias says the key is to teach something that is unbiased.

Teachers are allowed to teach history, but also I think they should be able to tell the full story of everyone's contribution to this country," Yapias said.

The Utah Board of Education says critical race theory falls under curriculum, which is governed by each district. Canyons School District spokesman Jeff Haney says critical race theory is not part of the curriculum being used by the district, and there are no plans to incorporate it into their curriculum or instruction.