The Biden administration says that it was a mistake to promote an activist handbook that included critical race theory (CRT) in schools.
“The Department does not endorse the recommendations of this group, nor do they reflect our policy positions,” the Department of Education (DOE) said in a statement, referring to a book from the Abolitionist Teaching Network called “Guide for Racial Justice & Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning.”
“It was an error in a lengthy document to include this citation.”
The Abolitionist Teaching Network’s Twitter account, which uses jargon that’s heavily used by CRT proponents or individuals within the “antiracist” movement, describes itself as an activist group that promotes “liberation” for “Black, Brown, and Indigenous folx, inclusive of all intersecting identities.”
The group also calls (pdf) on educators to “remove all punitive or disciplinary practices that spirit murder Black, Brown, and Indigenous children” and to “build a school culture that engages in healing and advocacy.” It doesn’t offer an explanation about how certain forms of disciplinary practices “spirit murder” the aforementioned minority groups.
The group’s handbook also states that social and emotional learning is a “covert form of policing used to punish, criminalize, and control Black, Brown, and Indigenous children and communities to adhere to White norms.”
The group doesn’t make any specific mentions of CRT on its website, but it uses many terms and ideas from the ideology—including that U.S. institutions are inherently racist. A number of Republican-led states have signed executive orders or have approved legislation prohibiting curriculum that claims the United States was founded on racist principles or that any groups—namely white people—are inherently racist.
In recent years, CRT has become somewhat of a catchall term used to describe the “antiracist” movement and training or instruction around “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Opponents of the theory say that it’s an outgrowth of the European Marxist critical theory school, which itself drew on the writings of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and others.
CRT typically divides society into “oppressors” and the “oppressed,” based on the alleged inherent privilege derived from being a member of a particular race or gender. Critics say it employs heavy use of the Marxist “struggle” ideology and tactic that advocates for the destruction of history, traditions, and culture of a society.
Proponents have said that attacks on CRT are part of a Republican-backed plan and have attempted to separate it from Marxism or communist movements. They’ve also claimed that it provides a more accurate interpretation of U.S. history.
Around the United States, there has been a growing movement of parents who have become increasingly dissatisfied with the CRT-derived curriculum being taught in their children’s classrooms.