Editor’s note: E-City Beat respects this writer’s request for anonymity, for obvious reasons. We would like to also mention the upcoming appointment of a GFPS School Board member. The GFPS Selection Committee will conduct an interview for the two applicants from 2-4 PM on July 16 at the district office. The interview session is open to the public.
I’m a long-time Great Falls citizen and a fan of your blog. Since Critical Race Theory has been in the news a lot lately, I thought it might be worth checking out how CRT has made its way into the Great Falls Public School district.
I am a retired teacher, and am friends with many teachers in Great Falls. Several members of my family even work for the school district. In many ways, our district is (thankfully) a lot more conservative than other AA Class districts throughout Montana.
I never saw a lot of overt teaching of how white students are inherently racist (beyond the normal social studies curriculum, which tends to put a lot of blame on western civilization for all of the world’s problems).
But there is one way that CRT has infiltrated even out here, and that is through the practices of so-called “restorative justice” and “standards-based grading.”
I don’t know how well-publicized restorative justice is in our school district, but there have already been several faculty meetings about it in the various secondary schools. Many teachers were told that they would all start implementing it soon. However, the way it gets implemented is vague. Right now, it appears mostly in the way administration handles disciplinary issues.
Traditionally, there were consequences for breaking rules. A student attacking a classmate, for example, would result in automatic suspension or expulsion. Under the tenets of restorative justice, however, things like suspension or expulsion are frowned upon and even avoided if at all possible.
This is because restorative justice is the belief that “punishment” for breaking a rule should be avoided, in favor of other practices like having “one-on-one conferences” with a student.
Restorative justice goes beyond just consequences, though. It seeks to actually redefine what constitutes a “problem behavior.”
Under restorative justice, things that our own childhood teachers would have considered “insubordination” may now just be shrugged off as no big deal.
There’s a lot out there about restorative justice, but you can read more about it from this informative article written by proponents of the practice: https://www.wested.org/rd_alert_online/restorative-justice-an-alternative-to-traditional-punishment/
Restorative justice has its roots in Critical Race Theory. Just Google “restorative justice” + “critical race theory” for endless sources to back this up.
Restorative justice made the news when critics pointed out how it actually enabled the Parkland school shooting: https://www.theblaze.com/news/2018/03/02/how-obama-school-discipline-guidelines-allowed-school-shooter-to-buy-gun-despite-troubling-past
Our district has many examples of severely troubled students, with well-documented histories of violence and insubordination, who have received little to no consequences for their ongoing behavior. Ask any teacher you know about this, and I’m sure they can give you many examples.
Whether this is restorative justice, or just admins not wanting to rock the boat, I do not know. And I’m not saying students never get expelled, but I do believe teachers today are putting up with far, far worse behavior than they used to. And oftentimes, with little to no consequences for the students in question.
I assume the restorative justice part of Critical Race Theory made its way into our district because of threats from the ACLU, which you can read about here:
The ACLU believed that because non-white students had a higher incidence of being written up in Great Falls, this was evidence of widespread “racism.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it was shortly after this report was published that teachers started getting lectures from administration about how restorative justice and standards-based grading was the future.
Here are some examples of restorative justice being mentioned openly in school documents and articles about the district:
I’ve also attached an image I’ve obtained from the official school software used for behavioral reports (write-ups) for students. Note the “restorative practice option” as one of the available consequences.
Standards-based grading is also linked with Critical Race Theory. Faculty members were told (again, by admin with zero input from any parents or teachers) that this is the direction our schools and district would be moving in.
In a nutshell, standards-based grading is the philosophy that grades should only be assigned based on whether the student in question knows the information listed.
Under standards-based grading, things like following deadlines, following rules, neatness, attention to detail, creativity, honesty, attitude, etc. are not allowed to be factors in a grade.
For example, a teacher could not give a student a bad grade in math if the student never turned in his multiplication assignments, as long as the kid could demonstrate that he already knew his times tables.
I don’t believe most parents in our community would approve of this grading philosophy, or the philosophy of restorative justice, but these changes were never made widely known to the public. Teachers were just told about them with no discussion, and expected to follow along.
The following link is from the GFPS web site, with the title: “What’s Coming – Standards-Based Report Cards.” https://www.gfps.k12.mt.us/Page/363
Some articles effectively criticizing standards-based grading and linking it to CRT can be found here:
And here is one of many articles arguing how standards-based grading is a remedy to the “racist” practice of traditional grading:
So I apologize for such a long email, but I thought I should really get this info out there since Critical Race Theory is such a hot topic.
I don’t know whether our administrators are pushing this stuff because they don’t know any better, or sincerely think it’s going to help, or what. I get the impression that it’s being forced on them from people even higher up.
I suspect former superintendent Tammy Lacey had a lot to do with getting this stuff introduced, but I have no evidence of this beyond my hunch.
A concerned parent and former teacher,