WINFIELD, W.Va. — The Putnam County Commission gave unanimous approval Tuesday to a resolution calling for a stand against Critical Race Theory and the denial of any public funding toward its teaching.
Commission president Ron Foster said it’s important to take a stand against CRT locally.
“That’s really what we’re doing here, start it at the ground level, move out from there, not from the top down,” Foster said following the vote.
Critical Race Theory has been around for years but has generated additional controversy in recent months with debates among lawmakers in several states to ban its teaching.
CRT is an academic concept that says racism is part of everyday life, part of the social fabric, which impacts policies and many areas of life including the legal system.
Part of the resolution, which Foster read Tuesday says, “The commissioners of Putnam County are familiar with the residents of our county and know they are not racists and do not condone or practice white supremacy.”
The resolution makes clear the commission won’t fund programs where Critical Race Theory is promoted. Foster has been critical of comments WVU President Gordon Gee has made about CRT. The commission is scheduled to meet with Gee Wednesday. The county currently helps fund the WVU Extension Office in Putnam County.
WVU currently has no CRT classes and CRT is not part of the curriculum in West Virginia’s public schools.
West Virginia Department of Education Director of Communications Christy Day issued a statement following a request Tuesday from MetroNews.
“Critical Race Theory (CRT) is not included in the West Virginia Teaching Standards. Curriculum is delivered based on state standards, so if it is being taught, that decision would be made at the county level as county boards of education determine the curriculum that is used within their schools,” Day said. “The West Virginia Department of Education is not aware of CRT being included in the instructional resources currently chosen by any county in West Virginia.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) July 13, 2021
Meanwhile, no one spoke against the resolution when commissioners called for public comment. Four spoke in favor including two state lawmakers, Sen. Amy Nicole Grady, R-Mason, and Del. Jonathan Pinson, R-Mason.
Grady, a teacher, said CRT divides and doesn’t unite.
“I stand here adamantly against the teaching of Critical Race Theory,” Grady said. “In a time when we need to be united more than anything, it’s not time to teach our children to be more divided. It does not belong in our school system. This is nothing more than a political agenda to further divide our country.”
“This teaches children to be divisive. We try to teach our children to be acceptive, to be engaging with all folks,” Pinson said.
Commissioner Andy Skidmore said he spoke with representatives of various groups before Tuesday’s meeting and found no support for CRT.
“What we want to portray in Putnam County is not divisiveness, to be inclusive, accepting and I think we are here in Putnam County,” Skidmore said.
A copy of the resolution is being sent to the governor, legislative leaders and members of the state’s congressional delegation.