Former Broward Schools Teacher Teaches Critical Race Theory — Free Of Scrutiny From State Law
This back-to-school season comes with a vast number of challenges for students and teachers. With the pandemic raging on, school boards are forced to reassess their re-entry plans. But after an unprecedented year of social discourse regarding race relations and gender politics, many schools are also responsible for making sure that their curriculum meets new, stricter guidelines.
Florida banned public school teachers from teaching critical race theory in June. This includes examinations of the ramifications of colonization, slavery, and even the Holocaust.
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Despite that, former Broward school teacher Iman Alleyne is determined to teach American history as it truly happened. And after years of working for the public school system, and seeing how it negatively affected her own child, she ventured into alternative forms of education.
“Homeschooling just became the path,” she recalled. “And families started asking me, 'Hey, can you teach my kid?”
She, and a few like-minded teachers, created Kind Academy. It’s an inclusive network connecting families to Montessori schools and homeschooling channels while also providing guidance and supplemental materials for students still in public schools.
"We [Kind Academy] are very big on making sure that it's diverse and progressive-leaning," said Alleyne. "Students need to feel included," she continued, "if I don't have students that feel included, I can't teach. I can't have my students not feeling comfortable."
Free of the censorship often experienced by teachers working in public schools, Alleyne has found creative ways to incorporate critical race theory into her lesson plans. She says that kindergarten-aged students are capable of grasping race relations.
“I would teach like inclusiveness and diversity and equity and things like that for story times,” she said.
Alleyne said that giving kids the tools to critically examine race relations allows them advantages in adulthood. She says it allows white children to have a more accurate understanding of different races. For Black and brown children, it’s a vital matter of confidence.
“‘There's a king that looks like me? I can be a king. I can be president.’ They start to feel like they are capable of doing amazing things," she said.
When this curriculum isn't prioritized early on, Alleyne said, it gives students a skewed and unbalanced perception of not only history but civil rights in general.
"If they [Black children] grow up only seeing themselves come from enslavement, and that's the first picture that they get of their ancestors, what type of message are we sending to them?" said Alleyne. "And then what kind of message are we sending to white students that this is where their history begins? When you look at a black kid, you look over and the first thing you see is a person who is enslaved. What is that doing to the population? And I really do feel like if you want to change that, then you have to start somewhere else."
Alleyne understands that many parents, and teachers, do not have the luxury to exit the public schooling system. She encourages parents to supplement their children’s educations with other materials.
Beyond her teaching, Alleyne has written an article and a book dissecting the importance of CRT in the classroom and the potential dangers of the topic’s erasure. Her class, Black History From a Decolonized Perspective, is currently enrolling students for the fall.