Arizona Teachers Round Up for Lessons on Advancing Critical Race Theory Again

By Corinne Murdock

2021 marks the seventh year of The Equity Event, an annual speaker series for teachers hosted by the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA). This event serves as a touchstone for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives enshrined in school policies statewide.

ASBA characterizes itself as a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that offers training and leadership assistance to public school governing boards.

According to The Equity Event save the date published by ASBA, this year’s Equity Event will have a special focus on culture, race, and ethnicity.

Following the clarifying statement of this year’s focus, the ASBA site insinuated in the following paragraph that the gaps in opportunities and outcomes across school districts might have to do with equity concerning culture, race, and ethnicity.

“Every school district has gaps in opportunity and outcomes,” wrote ASBA. “What are the barriers preventing your district from closing them so that every student can reach their full potential? How can you and your board overcome them?”

The event description continued on to say that past series have uncovered the realities that adversely impact students, such as family income, physical ability, or immigration status. ASBA then stated that culture, race, and ethnicity are related to each of these realities.

Then, ASBA says that race should be focused on more intensely. The association encouraged attendees to become aware of barriers or biases that they aren’t aware existed in themselves.

ASBA has three keynote speakers lined up this year. Calvin Terrell, known for his Ted Talk that advances a kind of secular humanism; Dr. Jennifer Harvey, gay reverend and proponent of antiracism and critical race theory; and Bill de la Cruz, an all-around advocate for racial awareness and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

A pre-conference to The Equity Event on April 21 will include scheduled appearances from a similar string of guests focused on the Latino and Latina communities in the state.

Guest speakers will be Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Rios; Executive Director of ALL in Education, Stephanie Parra; President & CEO of Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Monica Villalobos; University of Arizona Ph.D. Associate Dean for Community Engagement, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Maribel Alvarez; Arizona State University School of Social Work’s Office of Latino Projects Director, Dr. David Becerra; University of Arizona School of Education Educational Policy and Practice Associate Professor, Dr. Nolan Cabrera; Chief Development Officer and Former Valle del Sol Leadership Development Director, Angela Florez; National Association of Latino Elected/Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund Director of Civic Engagement Research, Dorian Caal; and four school board members from across the state, Eva Carrillo Dong, Devin Del Palacio, Monica Trejo, and Tadeo De La Hoya.

One of the guest speakers for the pre-conference, Cabrera, has caused controversy in recent years. His past work within the Tucson Unified School District with Mexican American Studies classes was panned, and in 2019 he accused University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins of not recognizing White Supremacy because Border Patrol agents were visiting a campus career fair.

The rest of the speaker series will focus on equity across all races overall.

The Equity Event will take place virtually from April 22 through the 23. Registration opened March 8, and the deadline to register was Wednesday, April 14.

Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to corinnejournalist@gmail.com.

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