Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Melissa: A debate is brewing in this country regarding an academic concept known as critical race theory. Here to help discuss this issue, and the rights of our viewers, is Managing Partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin Harding and Mazzotti.
Paul, we’ll jump right into it. Can you help our viewers understand what exactly critical race theory is?
Paul: Well, critical race theory is in fact just that. It’s a theory that, institutionally, folks of diverse backgrounds are being treated differently. So what it’s not, it’s not a situation we’re looking at racism, and, you know, you can join this club, you can’t join that club. It’s very confused. It’s, do we have embedded in our system, something that’s preventing certain groups from getting certain benefits? We see it a lot in the banking. It, kind of, came out that if you live in a certain zip code, you may not get that mortgage, or maybe at a higher rate, sort of irrefutable. So, that’s the kind of thinking and the kind of process that they want people to understand, including our children.
Melissa: Legally, who decides what the curriculum consists of in New York State?
Paul: So the New York State Department of Education, they set the goals. We like our children to learn this, but it’s the local districts that set the curriculum, so how that’s gonna be taught. And we see it does vary from county to county. So, it really comes down to the local administration of the goal.
Melissa: Oh, I’m glad you bring that up. Is CRT actually being taught in New York schools right now? And how are other states handling this issue?
Paul: Well, diversity is being taught. CRT is not being taught, not officially being taught. It certainly has never been a mandate. There’s some talk that in New York City, that maybe some of that is working its way into the districts, and we see that hitting the news. But we’ve got other states that are working towards legislation to either implement it, and some states have already come forth with legislation saying, “We are never gonna teach it.” So, you want a hot button? Bring that up at some point, you know, in some conversation, everyone seems to have a very strong opinion.
Melissa: Yeah, obviously, we are seeing, you know, viewers, and really just people all across the country now. If we do have some viewers who, maybe, are in favor or opposed to critical race theory in schools, what would you say is their best course of action?
Paul: Yeah, we say the least best course of action is just talking about it, you know. The best course of action is going to where you can make a difference. And that’s gonna be the local level. That’s gonna be at the board level, school board level. Attend the meeting. Find out what your kid’s curriculum is anyway. You may be surprised on other fronts, what’s being taught there. But that’s where you can get your opinions, sort of, out there, and effectuate change if possible.
Melissa: All right, some helpful information. Paul, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. Of course, if you’d like more information on this topic, you can visit our website, cbs6albany.com.