Dozens of education groups blast critical race theory bans
Efforts to restrict critical race theory infringe on the right of educators to teach and of students to learn, a broad coalition of civil rights advocates, historians and other education organizations said Wednesday.
“A whitewashed view of history cannot change what happened in the past,” said a joint statement from the Association of American Colleges & Universities, the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association and PEN America. “A free and open society depends on the unrestricted pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.”
The new policies that have emerged in about 20 states characterize critical race theory and education about racism as “divisive concepts.” But the policies define these concepts with only “a litany of vague and indefinite buzzwords and phrases, including, for example, ‘that any individual should feel or be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological or emotional distress on account of that individual’s race or sex,'” the statement says.
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.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbot signed a bill Wednesday barring CRT in Texas public schools. “House Bill 3979 is a strong move to abolish critical race theory in Texas, but more must be done,” Abbot wrote in a brief statement.
Abbot on Wednesday also signed a bill creating the Texas Holocaust, Genocide, And Antisemitism Advisory Commission. This new organization will, in addition to other activities, work with schools and colleges to develop effective methods to combat antisemitism and implement Holocaust and genocide courses.
.@AAUP, @AHAhistorians, @aacu, and @PENamerica have authored a joint statement stating their "firm opposition" to legislation, introduced in at least 20 states, that would restrict the discussion of “divisive concepts” in public education institutions.https://t.co/e6JjSaL4nx
— American Historical Association (@AHAhistorians) June 16, 2021
Efforts to restrict critical race theory seek to usurp the judgment of professional educators and transfer the power of setting curriculum to elected officials, says Wednesday’s joint statement, which was undersigned by 75 other education organizations.
“The purpose of education is to serve the common good by promoting open inquiry and advancing human knowledge,” the statement says. “Politicians in a democratic society should not manipulate public school curricula to advance partisan or ideological aims.”