Kofi Montzka is one of the scores of parents who have appeared recently in viral videos in which they offer scathing criticism of officials’ policies at school board meetings.
But Ms. Montzka, a Minnesota attorney and mother of three boys, has done more than just speak out: She has become an “ambassador.”
The term was coined by TakeCharge, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that seeks a holistic approach to problems facing Black Americans — and critical race theory in schools is one of its main targets.
“Critical race theory is racist,” Ms. Montzka said flatly.
As she told the Roseville School District near St. Paul, the common dodge from education leaders that they are not teaching critical race theory is false, “because I see it every day.”
Ms. Montzka said she sees her struggle against racist teaching practices as just one part of her work in the Black community.
Her admonishments to the Roseville board come at a time when parents around the country have taken aggressive action against equity initiatives in K-12 schools.
The policies are infused with critical race theory, a Marxist pedagogy that began in law and graduate schools and holds that America is racist to its core, requiring the dismantling of current institutions and their reconstruction along what proponents call “anti-racist” lines.
More than a dozen state legislatures have passed laws prohibiting critical race theory from public and charter K-12 school curriculums. The most recent was the Wisconsin Assembly last week, although that measure faces a certain veto from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, a former school superintendent.
Opposition to such policies has become so heated that the National School Board Association dubbed it “domestic terrorism” in a letter last week to the Biden administration. The letter cited tensions from COVID mandates to critical race theory in teaching materials.
“As these acts of malice, violence and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” the school board association wrote.
Ms. Montzka’s criticism did not approach the level of threats or violence, but it was impassioned. She said she was bewildered by segregated activities in her sons’ schools and lessons that taught them their lives would entail a perpetual battle against White supremacy.
It was risible for the schools to separate meetings by race after George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis police custody last year, she said.
“They actually segregated kids by race,” she told the school board, citing a district email to parents. “I couldn’t believe we were going back to segregation after all we fought for.”
At their core, Ms. Motzka said, policies that schools have enacted in the name of “diversity, equity and inclusion” are profoundly divisive and send a discouraging message to her sons and other minority students.
For example, the idea that disciplining students of color is “a pipeline to prison” gets things exactly backward, she said to applause from the audience.
“It’s hard to send my kids there if these are the messages they get, and my son wasn’t looking forward to school,” Ms. Montzka told The Washington Times. “Why should they try? It makes them doubt they will succeed. There are individuals who are racist, there’s no doubt about that, but this critical race theory is terrible in and of itself.”
Ms. Motzka overcame considerable hardship to earn her law degree, and she resents the idea she is somehow an exception among African Americans.
“The inference is that other Black people aren’t like you,” she said. “The challenges I had made me have the motivation: I wanted money and a family that stays together.”
TakeCharge ambassadors are active in at least five states, and plans are afoot to open new chapters in 11 more cities, according to its president, Kendall Qualls.