Texas employee course cut after GOP governor candidate alleged critical race theory

AUSTIN – Despite some internal objections, the Texas Child Protection Agency stopped offering two diversity training courses to its social workers late last year, shortly after a Challenger for the post of GOP governor to Governor Greg Abbott called them “Marxists” and filled them with “critical race theory”. », Confirm the emails published by the department on Friday evening.

The Department of Family and Protective Services also stopped requiring child welfare workers seeking promotion to attend classes about two weeks after the former Dallas state senator , Don Huffines, lambasted the program as needlessly confrontational.

Department spokespersons did not respond to a request for comment on Friday evening on why it stopped offering the training and whether it did so due to pressure from Huffines.

It wasn’t long before Huffines took the credit on Saturday. “I said I would have this toxic material removed,” he said. tweeted. ” I held my promise.

Department head Jaime Masters reports directly to Abbott, who recruited her in Kansas for the Protective Services position just over two years ago.

In a four-minute video made as part of his campaign to overthrow Abbott, Huffines called on the two-term Republican incumbent “to stop using taxpayer dollars to promote critical race theory” and to call in instead a special session of the legislature “to eliminate this poison” from every public body and university.

“The people pushing this shit have to be fired,” Huffines concludes in the Nov. 4 video.

Huffines pointed to two documents written in the formation of the ministry. One in September 2020, a course titled “Knowing Who You Are”, includes sections on Racial and Ethnic Identity and Institutional Racism. A PowerPoint document from November 2020 explores similar topics.

It is not known how many people took the training.

From emails obtained by The morning news from DallasOn November 19, Erica Bañuelos, CPA Field Director, informed staff that two of the “Know Who You Are” courses would no longer be offered or required for promotion.

Four days earlier, Bañuelos, who oversees thousands of social workers in different parts of Texas, warned CPS Associate Commissioner Deneen Dryden in an email that “the staff on the ground are going to have a lot of questions about the cancellation of courses “.

Although it was not mentioned in his November 19 announcement, Bañuelos privately suggested to Dryden that a class titled “Undoing Racism” would also be discontinued. The National Association of Social Workers offers an anti-racism course under this name. Department spokesman Patrick Crimmins, however, said he couldn’t immediately say whether such a course was dropped.

“The staff already have a lot of work to do on equity in the community and they just want to make sure they can keep doing that work,” Bañuelos wrote to Dryden.

On behalf of the social workers, Bañuelos asked if they could take such courses if they were offered “in the community”. It is not clear from the published emails whether Dryden, whom Masters recruited from the Kansas Child Welfare Agency in May 2020, has already responded.

In 2005, the legislature required the ministry to “develop and deliver cultural competency training to all service delivery staff.” Lawmakers also called on him to partner with community organizations and churches “to provide culturally competent services to children and families of all races and ethnicities.”

For a number of years, the CPS had a special office tasked with curbing the agency’s tendency to remove more children suspected of abuse from black and Hispanic birth families than from white families – a phenomenon known as name of “disproportionality”.

In an email to Field Support Services Manager Melissa Hobbs, about an hour after it was announced that the training courses would no longer be offered, Lucia Montes, social worker at Austin CPS, expressed his “strong disagreement”.

While diversity training can be difficult, “I firmly believe that the department has a responsibility to have these difficult conversations, especially with people who find them difficult,” wrote Montes, who cited instances where she observed racial insensitivity on the part of CPS colleagues.

“The Department still has a long way to go to address these inequalities within it,” she said.

Former state senator Don Huffines, presented at an event hosted in October 2019 by opponents of then-President Donald Trump's impeachment in Richardson, Texas, announced on Monday that he was would run for governor next year.

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