Ed Commissioner talks about critical race theory

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green on June 9, 2021. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

Rhode Island’s education commissioner says the discussion about critical race theory focuses on what she calls “cultural responsiveness and sustainability”, and rather than being politicized, should be an opportunity to learn and move forward together.

In her first comments on the subject, Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green says the discussion should be “including everybody’s experience and culture.”

“You cannot have different versions of history. I think we talk about what’s happened and then how do we work together to include every culture as we move forward.”

Infante-Green, a Latina, said schools and society cannot stand still on issues of race, gender and culture.

“We have to keep evolving, we can’t keep thinking the way we thought in the 1960’s, the 1930’s. History has taught us we evolve as a nation, and the way that we evolve is by having conversations about learning about each other, about amplifying.”

Infante-Green’s comments come after a South Kingstown mother drew national attention, criticized by members of the town school committee, who threatened to sue Nicole Solas for filing about 200 public record requests for information regarding critical race theory instruction in her child’s school. The school committee later rescinded its threat to sue her.

“This is about me fighting for my kids, this is about me demanding transparency from public officials,” Solas told WPRO’s Tara Granahan on Monday.

“Parents, they want to know exactly what’s going on. So, even though I was given a few examples of, “well, we don’t call them boys and girls”, that’s not good enough for me. In fact, that just made me have even more questions,” Solas said.

Infante-Green said the discussion about instruction in the schools should not be politicized.

“I don’t really see where the debate is, and I don’t like conversations about inclusivity to be politicized, because that’s not where we are, that’s not where we should be. This is about us learning about each other.”

“To everyone, let’s learn together, let’s move forward together,” Infante-Green said.

“I think that if we don’t give ourselves that opportunity to learn, and how we talk about it is important. So, I welcome us all to have an open conversation.”