Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law on Friday preventing local governments from teaching critical race theory (CRT), a quasi-Marxist ideology at the center of a cultural tug-of-war between parents and school districts nationwide.
The measure, known as Arizona House Bill 2906, will prohibit “the state and any local governments from requiring their employees to engage in orientation, training or therapy that suggest an employee is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” said Ducey’s office in a statement.
The bill was passed in the House 31-25, while the Senate passed it in a 16-12 vote, according to online records.
Ducey signed a separate bill last week that aims to bar the teaching of CRT in schools. The law says that schools can’t teach that one race or ethnic group is superior to another and cannot claim that a person is racist because of their race.
While some critics of the push to end CRT say that it’s not Marxist, others have pointed out that it is an outgrowth from the earlier critical theory, which was originally a European Marxist school of thought.
According to the Legal Insurrection Foundation’s Criticalrace.org, CRT differs from the Civil Rights movement because its proponents “challenge the very foundations of the liberal order, such as rationalism, constitutional law, and legal reasoning.”
“Critical race theorists argue that American social life, political structures, and economic systems are founded upon race, which (in their view) is a social construct,” the site says, noting that CRT is often associated with the so-called “anti-racist” movement. “Systemic racism, in the eyes of critical race theorists, stems from the dominance of race in American life,” it further states, adding that such ideologues believe such systems need to be dismantled.
Other critics, meanwhile, have described CRT as merely the application of Marxist class struggle along racial lines, with CRT proponents denigrating white people as oppressors and Western culture as oppressive.
In one instance in Loudon County, Virginia, amid a parental pushback against the school’s CRT curriculum, one father said it “actually increases racial tensions as opposed to bringing people together and treating everyone the same and treating people the way they themselves should be treated.”
Earlier this year, a Loudon school board advisory committee recommended firing teachers who opposed the mandated CRT-based “equity” training. “Anti-racist” advocates in Loudon then reportedly started allegedly started making lists of parents who opposed the programs.
But proponents of CRT, including some school board members and the head of the American Federation of Teachers, have claimed that it teaches the “honest history” about race relations in the United States.
They’ve also asserted that parents who have pushed back against critical race theory are misleading other parents and have mischaracterized curriculum that touches on racism as CRT. Some in the media have alleged that these parents are playing into the hands of Republicans, who are trying to win back Congress in the 2022 midterms.
And several school boards have begun to employ a strategy claiming CRT opponents are trying to censor what teachers can say in classrooms or make them not teach certain historical topics such as Jim Crow laws, slavery, or the treatment of Native Americans. However, those who support anti-CRT legislation and mandates said the laws do not discourage critical thinking or bar teachers from teaching about slavery, Jim Crow, or other controversial aspects of U.S. history.