LAATSCH: Critical Race Theory Will Not Be Taught in Saline Schools; But the District Will Focus on DEI, Culturally-Responsive Teaching

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What is critical race theory? Depends who you ask.

Across the country, battles are raging about whether it should be taught in school. 

It won't be taught in Saline Schools, Superintendent Steve Laatsch said Tuesday during the board of education meeting. But that doesn't mean the district isn't pushing forward to create a more culturally inclusive curriculum.

"We're not teaching critical race theory in Saline but what we are doing is focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and culturally responsive teaching so that all our students feel part of our schools and our curriculum," Laatsch said. "(We're) reading books, from different perspectives, and different diverse, authors' points of view and listening to our students and families so that they know their voices are being heard."

One of the ways the district planned to ensure this was the creation of a new position, a director of culturally responsive instruction, in the district. The district began advertising for the post this spring but recently changed its track.

Laatsch, who directed curriculum and instruction as assistant superintendent, will continue to lead in this era. The department has been re-organized after a review and needs assessment, Laatsch said.

The new Saline Area Schools Teaching and Learning Team is:

  • Steve Laatsch - Superintendent / Instructional Leader
  • Kara Davis - Teaching and Learning Team Lead
  • Channon Washington - Culturally Responsive Consultant
  • Kelly Widman - Instructional Designer (Heritage Media Center Specialist)
  • Jenn Nelson - Instructional Designer and Literacy Coach
  • Molly Garcia - Director of Student Services
  • Monica Ellis - Assistant Director of Student Services
  • Katie O’Keeffe - EL Teacher and EL Coordinator
  • Caroline Stout - MTSS District Coordinator
  • Sherry Soenen - District Liaison for Intensifying instruction
  • Robyn Schmidt - Technology Liaison for Curriculum and Instruction
  • Meg Phillips - Project Lead the Way Support

"It's my strong belief that the reorganization of the curriculum and instruction department will provide us with a better opportunity to build on the momentum that we have been gaining and further accelerate culturally responsive instruction," Laatsch said.

Laatsch said the team includes educators from various areas of education.

"And this is because we want to better serve the whole child. We don't look at our systems of support as silos. We are one complex teaching and learning team that works together to best support our students," Laatsch said.

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