A growing number of states are passing laws prohibiting inculcation of the quasi-Marxist critical race theory (CRT) in schools and other government institutions, in response to mounting opposition to the ideology.
North Carolina and Utah have passed anti-CRT bills in one legislative chamber thus far. Lawmakers in several more states have proposed such bills, but haven’t had much success pushing them through.
Some of the bills aim to keep CRT out of the classroom, while others are limited to bans on CRT-based training for government workers.
The measures don’t mention CRT specifically, but focus on its tenets, such as banning inculcation of “divisive concepts” that claim, for instance, that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously” and that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
The bills usually include a clause that makes clear teachers are free to talk about CRT or related topics, as long as they don’t endorse such “divisive concepts.”
The Biden administration is pushing in the opposite direction. The Education Department outlined new priority criteria last month for a $5.3 million American History and Civics Education grant, as well as exemplary materials for K-12 educators. The department cited the “1619 Project” and Ibram X. Kendi’s “antiracist idea”—both of which are underpinned by CRT —as leading examples of the kind of content it wants to promote in history and civics classrooms across the country.
The grant offer was part of the reason that Tennessee Rep. John Ragan introduced the state’s anti-CRT legislation as a “preemptive strike,” he told The Epoch Times.
His other reason was a stream of “complaints from constituents across the state,” he said.
The language of Ragan’s bill was inspired by the executive order issued last year by President Donald Trump that banned federal agencies, contractors, subcontractors, and grantees from instructing their employees to follow CRT tenets. President Joe Biden has since rescinded that order.