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Rochester Public Schools, community members deny notion that critical race theory is being taught in schools

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The group of demonstrators who showed up to Tuesday's Rochester Public Schools (RPS) Board meeting demanded Rochester schools not teach critical race theory.

"It's not part of the Minnesota standards. We're not teaching it now, we don't plan to teach it, it's not appropriate for K-12 education. So, it was confusing the level of anger," said RPS President Jean Marvin.

Marvin says there is a misunderstanding, and the goal is to educate all children by providing them with the proper information.

"We absolutely respect the rights of every person to have their opinion and to express their opinion," said Marvin. "We do not tell kids what to think or what to say. That's just not part of how we teach."

Marvin says the concept of critical race theory was created for law students, in order to study how the interpretation of law and laws could lead to segregation and discrimination. An active member of Rochester's diversity council agrees with that assessment.

"In law schools, you might take a course in critical race theory. Maybe in a graduate program you would take a course in Critical Race Theory. It's not taught in the K-12 programs," said Charlotte Kunkel of Rochester's Diversity Council.

Kunkel claims the reason why these demonstrators were upset may be due to a misunderstanding of what critical race theory actually is.

"It's not based on discrimination, in fact it's trying to eliminate discrimination based on race. So, I think it gets confused, because in the social media, it's described as being anti-white," said Kunkel.

One Rochester business owner has multiple children in the city's public schools, and she says critical race theory isn't being taught either.

"You do need to admit, that hey this happened in an effort to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Jessica Phillips, Jersey Jo's Co-Owner.

All three people believe civil discourse and finding the facts is how education and discussion can move forward.

"Come to a table and have dialogue about what my perspective is, what your perspective is," said Kunkel.

"You need all the different experiences there so that it can be a conversation among a lot of different people," said Phillips.

"America is the greatest country in the world, but we made some mistakes," said Marvin.

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Noah Caplan

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