Controversies over the teaching of critical race theory are roiling school districts just as administrators are navigating the post-COVD transition back to full-time in-person learning.
Along with the question of whether students will wear masks in 2021-22, how to teach about racism will be one of the biggest challenges superintendents and their teams face in many states over the coming months—particularly in states where policymakers have already banned critical race theory in schools.
Critical race theory, also known as CRT, focuses on a legacy of racism and discrimination that its proponents contend is intertwined throughout U.S. history and institutionalized across society. Opponents contend it paints all white people as racist and could harm white students.
In June, a broad coalition of civil rights advocates, historians and other education organizations said efforts to restrict critical race theory are an attempt to “whitewash” history and infringe on the right of educators to teach and of students to learn.
More from DA: Clash over critical race theory consumes K-12
“The purpose of education is to serve the common good by promoting open inquiry and advancing human knowledge,” said a joint statement from the Association of American Colleges & Universities, the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association and PEN America. “Politicians in a democratic society should not manipulate public school curricula to advance partisan or ideological aims.”
But in May, attorneys general from 20 states sent a letter urging the Biden Administration not to include critical race theory in any upcoming history and civics guidance for K-12 schools. “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 to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
CRT state-by-state: To ban or not to ban?
Here’s a look at how policymakers are handling critical race theory in schools.
States that have banned or restricted teaching of critical race theory (as of June 29):
- New Hampshire
Where new bills or state education policies would restrict teaching about racism:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
States where critical race theory bans have failed:
States that have reaffirmed teaching Black history and anti-racism: