Critical race theory: Katy ISD parents at odds over author's visit

Katy ISD has cancelled one author’s virtual event and pulled his books from school libraries over concern it promotes a critical race theory curriculum.

The decision comes after hundreds of parents signed a petition.

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10-year-old Cora Krueger was one of many elementary school kids at Katy ISD who was supposed to attend a virtual speaking event for Jerry Craft, the New York Times bestselling author of 'Class Act’ and ‘New Kid’.

"I was disappointed. I heard some information about his books and they seemed really good," said Cora.

Craft’s appearance Monday morning was suddenly cancelled, and his books were removed from school library shelves pending an official review.

Some parents like Kristen Krueger, Cora's mother, are appalled at the district’s decision.  

"In our family we believe all books should be books that people have access to reading," said Krueger, who has two kids enrolled at Katy ISD.

Krueger's reaction is a stark contrast to the 400 plus who signed a now deleted petition before Craft's appearance, raising concerns that his books pushed a critical race theory curriculum.

On Tuesday, Krueger wrote a letter to board trustees and administrators asking them to reconsider.

"I found it shocking that the ISD would instead take the word of 400 parents which in a district that serves almost 3,000 families seems almost insane. It's an insanely small representation.

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"My hope is not only will they welcome the author back but with an apology for creating this sort of scandal around his book which is based on just a handful of people who are not representative of our city or our school district," Krueger said.

As of Tuesday night, more than 800 people have signed a counter petition asking Katy ISD to welcome Craft back.

Dr. Darius Benton, an assistant professor of Communication Studies at the University of Houston Downtown, believes the district may have missed a teaching opportunity and wishes that critical race theory hadn't become so politicized.

"Recently, it seems as if anything race related has been dumped into critical race theory and that's not what it is critical race theory. It's actually like a graduate-level concept that was initially taught in law schools.

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"It really looks at how racism is systematically embedded in systems, organizations, society, law, government, and policies. We have to be really careful when we do these things because now we may start promoting censorship," Benton said.

In a statement, Katy ISD said, "Katy ISD library books are routinely reviewed through this process. Pending the outcome of a review committee, school day activities associated with the selection under review are temporarily placed on hold.  School activities pertaining to selections under review and hosted outside of the instructional day, however, may continue as a formal review process takes place."