June 15, 2022, 7:02pm, By Carl Campanile
State Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa accused upstate Rep. Elise Stefanik of dabbling in conspiracieswith her questions about critical race theory— but the congresswoman countered the schools boss has yet to fully address her concerns.
The GOP lawmaker was met with a blanket denial that the state “does not provide critical race theory” after she asked Rosa for a “complete accounting” of how her department was spending federal pandemic recovery funds, and whether any of the dollars were going to CRT-related instruction.
“As frequently indicated, the state Education Department does not provide critical race theory. It does, however, provide critical thinking. This allows our children to distinguish fact from opinion, achievedeeper understanding…,” Rosa replied in a May 10 letter.
“Your accusation — whether intentional or negligent — is disappointing. What lesson are we teaching our children when a U.S. Representative traffics in conspiracies — and conflates opinions with fact.”
Stefanik, a top House Republican, then charged Rosa with sidestepping and refusing to provide the documents while spewing an uglypersonal attack.
“Instead of addressing my questions into the blatant misuse of federal taxpayer dollars, Commissioner Rosa shamefully attacked me. The facts in my letter were clear, and the implementation of CRT by any other name in New York classrooms is wrong,” Stefanik told The Post when asked about the commissioner’s criticism.
“It is no surprise the Far-Left department would fail to fully comply with my request for the truth and revert to petty name-calling, because they know how outraged parents would be if they knew their hard-earned taxpayer dollars were used to peddle this radical ideology.”
She continued, “This is no conspiracy theory – it is a commitment to the facts. I will continue to lead the charge for transparency and, as the most senior New York member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, am committed to critical oversight on behalf of New York parents and families.”
Stefanik dashed off a follow-up letter to Rosa — co-signed by Virginia Rep. Virginia Foxx,theranking Republican on the House education oversight panel — on Wednesday demanding more information.
“Your failure to offer a full response to the prior request for information appears to be an attempt to obscure how you are utilizing the funding and what you are encouraging local educational agencies to implement,” the letter states.
A state Education Department spokeswoman said, “The commissioner’s response provided the information that was requested.”
“The use of the funding provided to schools in New York has been consistent with the federal law and the plans submitted to USDE,” the statement said. “The premise of the original letter and the most recent one is grounded in a shameful and overtly partisan campaign to denigrate and undermine efforts to ensure our children are welcomed and supported in our public schools with fair treatment, equity and opportunity for all.”
The congressional scrutiny over CRT is not going away anytime soon. Republicans are likely to take majority control of the House of Representatives, which means they will have the power to hold hearings on racialized education and a haul in educators to testify.
Stefanik and Foxx are pressing NY education officialson how they’re using federal taxpayer dollars provided through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) on “social emotionallearning” and “culturally responsive and sustaining education.”
The lawmakers said education officials failed to provide requested documentation on the use of these funds and instead referred them to the state’s Elementary and Secondary SchoolEmergency Relief Planon its website.
The state plan said students should “learn to critically examine root causes of inequity” and promote “justice-oriented citizenship” and that school districts “share best practices” on such approaches.
But the lawmakers claim many of the state’s social emotional learning resources “contain divisive and politically charged ideologies that do not belong in America’s K-12 classrooms” — in other words, critical race theory that focuses on white guilt, white privilege or white oppression.
“This underpins our significant concern with your use of taxpayer funds,” Stefanik and Foxx said.
They noted that one of the resources promoted by NYSED is the“Say Their Names” toolkitused by Chicago Public Schools that states “no white person has ever lived in a non-racist North America” and “having white privilege…means that we have some advantages, simply because we’re white”, while also advocating for the beliefs of the Black Lives Matter organization.
“The fact that these are the resources NYSED promotes only reinforces the need for full transparency,” Stefanik and Foxx said.
Stefanik and Foxx asked Rosa for correspondence between state and federal education officials regarding SED’s pandemic recovery plan, a complete accounting of spending, all memos and guidance provide to local school districts including “discussing the decision to use the federal pandemic funds to support Critical Race Theory or its key concepts under the guise of SEL [social emotional learning’ and CRSE [Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education].”
Last month, The Post revealed that some New York City schools have been offering an inflammatory children’s book titled “Our Skin.’’
The book teaches kids as young as 2 that the concept of race was created by white people who claimed they were “better, smarter, prettier, and that they deserve more than everybody else.”
Rosa, in her initial response to Stefanik, lectured that the congresswoman had “conflated” social emotional learning with critical race theory, a “canard” she said originated withconservative activist Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, who is not educator.
She said SED’s use of funds under the American Rescue Plan complies with the law and has been implemented in a transparent manner.
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