A national pledge for educators who want to commit to teaching critical race theory, even if states ban the use of race as a lens for educating, has gained almost 5,000 signatures across the nation.
The pledge, called “Pledge to Teach the Truth: Despite New State Bills Against It,” has attracted the signatures of around 80 Minnesota teachers.
The pledge aims to create a coalition of teachers who vow to teach about how “the major institutions and systems of our country are deeply infected with anti-Blackness and its intersection with other forms of oppression.”
It claims that America was “founded on dispossession of Native Americans, slavery, structural racism and oppression; and structural racism is a defining characteristic of our society today.”
The pledge was created by the Zinn Education Project, which is named after historian Howard Zinn, whose work has been challenged by some authors. The Zinn Education Project exists to equip educators and students with material not “found in traditional textbooks and curricula.”
Some Minnesota signees wrote comments in addition to their names.
“It is vital for our students to learn about the oppressive forces that shaped our country and how they continue to do damage,” said Megan Lewandowski from St. Paul.
“Teachers have the power to be a force for justice and disrupting legacies of oppression,” Shelley L. Gatti of Minneapolis wrote.
Other teachers cited the “shameful[ness] of our ‘historical amnesia'” and stressed the need for “anti-racist education.” The pledge affirms that teachers who sign will “not be bullied” into not teaching critical race theory, and that they will uplift “the power of organizing and solidarity” while educating youth.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis City Council has claimed that critical race theory must be “baked into our systems.”
The names and cities of the Minnesota educators who signed the pledge are listed alphabetically by city below.
Dehlia Seim, Katie Ruhland
Marina Konold, Matt Gockowski, Reid Fore
Amber Rice, Andrea Saenz, Anneliese Paulson, Audrey Cullen, Candace Burckhardt, Daniel Husman, Denise Felder, Dylan Perry, Elizabeth Ihde, Elizabeth Moklestad, Kate Harris, Kristen Pehl, Kristina Kvarnlov-Leverty, Lauren Wilvers, Lisa Parra Staves, Mary Cullen, Michelle Kelly, Paul Spies, Peter McKown, Richard Beach, Robert Lewis, Roxanne Gould, Ryan Bour, Sara Nelson, Sarah Hassebroek, Shannon Karkula, Shelley L Gatti, Suzanne Blum Grundyson, Walter Johnson, Zina Toure
Bonni Hill, Laura Wagenman
Jennifer Wernau, Joseph Mish
Amy Lyga, Ann Hebble, Anna Robinson, Bobbie Olson, Brian Lozenski, Brionna Harder, Danielle Deschaine, Glenn Thomas, Jane Gottfried, Kelsey Groebner, Laura Tucci, Laura Weaver, Mara Johnson, Mark Roudané, Marni Wilson, Matthew Hausman, Megan Lewandowski, Nick Miller, Nicola Turnet, Sarah Smith, Theresa Haider, Tiffany Dreher, Tom Lucy, Wendy Harris
South Saint Paul
West St. Paul
Alexandra Fagan, Kerry Forsell
Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.