Currently, there is spirited discourse, as well as confusion, surrounding the application of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in educational institutions across the country. At the same time, the use of Culturally Responsive Teaching & Learning (CRTL) in classrooms has also been a consistent point of discussion. We would like to clearly state that Critical Race Theory will not be taught in the Valley View School District. Neither the Illinois School Code, nor the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) requires that CRT be taught in schools. As for a Lesson On Critical Race Theory, scholars describe CRT as a practice not to be conflated with curriculum to be taught. Critical Race Theory may be an approach used to examine how racial dynamics implicitly or explicitly impact social structures, discourse, and practices that produce racial inequality.
Culturally Responsive Teaching & Learning is categorized as a professional practice that is grounded in neuroscience. As of February 2021, ISBE has approved Culturally Responsive Teaching & Learning Standards to prepare future educators to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. Additionally, CRTL positions current education practitioners to value, honor, support, and develop racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse learning environments. Creating educational spaces that are intellectually and emotionally safe is at the foundation of CRTL. As the asset of diversity continues to drive innovation in our nation, Culturally Responsive Teaching is necessary in order to develop every student to be an independent learner who takes responsibility for their own knowledge acquisition in partnership with educators.
In Valley View School District, our core values of equity, continuous improvement, and partnership drive our decision making process and implementation of actions to achieve our three critical priorities:
- Responsive & Caring Culture
- Learning & Growth
- Equitable Systems
Listed below are some fundamental, philosophical beliefs for the VVSD approach to provide equitable academic and social experiences for Every Learner:
- Our mission is to provide equitable opportunities for Every Learner. Every Day.
- Every student is capable of reaching rigorous academic, social, and emotional expectations, and it is our responsibility to ensure their success.
- Every student must be viewed as an individual within the context of their family and community and should see a reflection of themself in their learning environments.
- Learning must be centered around the experiences of all students present in our schools, including those students who represent traditionally marginalized communities.
- Every student is entitled to a learning environment that fosters respect for personal identity, recognizes students’ strengths, encourages academic risk taking and curiosity, and provides opportunities for self-advocacy.
- Successful students are capable of utilizing (developmentally appropriate) self-awareness and self-reflection strategies.
- Multiple lived experiences can exist among our school populations which contribute to multiple ways of understanding history, current events, issues, and relationships between people.
Terms & Definitions
Critical Race Theory
An approach used to examine how racial dynamics implicitly or explicitly impact social structures, discourse, and practices that produce racial inequality.
Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning
A multifaceted teaching approach to fostering higher-order thinking for every learner that simultaneously leads to disadvantaged students becoming independent learners.