20 states pressure Biden administration on critical race theory
Calling critical race theory “deeply flawed and controversial,” 20 state attorneys general have urged the Biden Administration to strike it from history and civics guidance.
The group also rejects the New York Times’ 1619 Project and similar curriculums that teach that racism is endemic and institutionalized in American society.
They are targeting two Department of Education Every Student Succeeds Act proposals issued in April that do not specifically mention critical race theory, also known as “CRT.”
The proposals would recommend that schools prioritize information literacy as well as history and civics projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse perspectives into teaching and learning.
“The (Department if Education) should make it clear that it will not fund projects that promote CRT or any projects that characterize the United as irredeemably racist or founded on principles of racism (as opposed to principles of equality) or that purport to ascribe character traits, values, privileges, status, or beliefs, or that assign fault, blame, or bias, to a particular race or to an individual because of his or her race,” the group wrote in a letter last week to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
The group also argues that CRT could put teachers at risk of discriminating against students “who are inappropriately defined as having ‘privilege’ or being ‘oppressors’ based solely on their race.”
“The implementation of these priorities will, in practice, lead to racial and ethnic division and indeed more discrimination,” the letter says.
But education professor Cleveland Hayes says critical race theory is an inclusive, not an exclusive philosophy.
If teachers are culturally responsive and inclusive, they are already teaching components of critical race theory, says Hayes, the associate dean for academic affairs and a professor in Urban Teacher Education at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
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“There are six guiding principles in the critical race theory framework and the one people are upset about is the one that says racism is endemic to the U.S., which is not up for debate,” says Hayes
More states prohibiting CRT
Some of these states whose attorneys general signed the letter—including Idaho and Oklahoma—have already prohibited schools from teaching critical race theory.
Tennessee on Monday became the latest prohibit critical race theory when Gov. Bill Lee signed a law that threatens to withhold funds from schools that violate the CRT ban, The Associated Press reported.
“We need to make sure that our kids recognize that this country is moving toward a more perfect union, that we should teach the exceptionalism of our nation and how people can live together and work together to make a greater nation, and to not teach things that inherently divide or pit either Americans against Americans or people groups against people groups,” Lee said, according to The Associated Press.
The Texas state Senate this week also approved a prohibition on the teaching of critical race theory, The Texas Tribune reported.
And Utah’s state House and Senate have passed a non-binding resolution urging the state board of education to ban CRT, NPR Utah reported.
Hayes, however, also urges white educators to look outside themselves to the bigger picture.
“If you’re white, don’t make this about you—it’s not about you,” he says.”It’s really about creating a space where all children can grow and we can learn more about each other.”