Posted on February 2, 2022

Hispanic Students Were Forced to Learn Critical Race Theory

Robby Soave, Reason, January 31, 2022

During the 2020 fall semester, Kali Fontanilla—a high school English language teacher working in the Salinas, California, school district—noticed that many of her students were failing one of their other classes: ethnic studies. This was at the height of the pandemic, and instruction was entirely online, leaving many students in the lurch. Still, Fontanilla thought it was odd to see so many Fs.

Salinas has a majority Mexican population; all of Fontanilla’s students were Hispanic and were learning English as a second language. Education officials who propose adding ethnic studies to various curriculums—and making it mandatory, as the Salinas school district did—typically intend for privileged white students to learn about other cultures. There’s a certain irony in requiring members of an ethnic minority to study this, and an even greater irony in the fact that such students were struggling intensely with the course.


This made Fontanilla curious about what the course was teaching. All of the high school’s teachers used the same online platform to post lesson plans and course materials, so Fontanilla decided to take a look. She was shocked by what she saw.

“This was like extreme left brainwashing of these kids,” says Fontanilla. “Critical race theory all throughout the lessons, from start to finish. The whole thing.”


“The teacher had the kids all learn about the four I’s of oppression,” says Fontanilla. The four I’s were institutional, internalized, ideological, and interpersonal oppression. “And then there was a whole presentation on critical race theory and they actually had the students analyze the school through critical race theory.”

Slides from lesson plans provided by Fontanilla confirm that the ethnic studies course references critical race theory by name.

The original meaning of the theory, at least when taught at the college level, is that racism so pervades U.S. society and U.S. institutions that it is impossible to separate race from other issues: All policies, structures, and laws were built under the auspices of racism, a sort of original sin that shapes the country’s institutions. {snip}

“The kids don’t even want this stuff,” says Fontanilla, noting that the ethnic studies course replaced a much more popular health class—in the midst of a pandemic, no less. “Most of them are just like, ‘Why do we have to take this class?'”

They would have to direct that question to California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature, which decided to mandate ethnic studies for all public schools. Newsom vetoed a previous mandate, which came under fire because the proposed curriculum included “jargon such as ‘cisheteropatriarchy’ and ‘hxrstory,’ and refers to capitalism as a form of power and oppression alongside white supremacy and racism,” according to Cal Matters.

The legislature re-worked the ethnic studies proposal, and on October 8, 2021, Newsom signed the mandate into law. {snip}

In a statement to The Epoch Times, Dan Burns, superintendent of Salinas Union High School district, denied that the course was based on CRT, though he conceded that CRT “is addressed in our course as one of the frameworks within the K-12 Ethnic Studies Outcomes list.”

Indeed, CRT is referenced in the district’s ethnic course syllabus, which is available online. The syllabus stresses that students will study “intergenerational trauma” through an interdisciplinary and critical lens. Scholarly articles about critical race theory are included in the suggested curriculum, including “Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth,” by Tara J. Yosso, a UCLA professor of education who specializes in critical race theory.

One of suggested activities for students is an “intersectional rainbow.”

“Students will rank their various identities with corresponding colored strings to create intersectional rainbows. Gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, beliefs, nationality, ability, age, etc.,” reads the syllabus. {snip}


Other possible classroom activities include hosting a mock trial where they accuse various historical persons of being complicit in the genocide of Native Californians and “creating a social justice oriented counter-narrative.”

Salina’s version of the course included a “privilege quiz”: Students were expected to rank themselves based on their marginalized status or lack thereof. The lesson plan included an image of two white girls—former Republican President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, to be precise—at the top of the privilege hierarchy.