It appears that the left might be striking back against attempts to prohibit the teaching of certain elements of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the classroom. After at least three states have passed legislation outlawing the theory’s teaching and more poised to impose similar measures, the hard left is planning to push back using the legal system.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, recently declared that the organization would take legal action to shield any educator who “gets in trouble for teaching honest history.”
During a virtual professional development conference for members of the union, Weingarten argued that “culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism or discrimination as [critical race theory] to try to make it toxic.” She also claimed these individuals were “bullying teachers and trying to stop [them] from teaching students accurate history.”
The debate over CRT being taught in classrooms has intensified over the past few months and has transformed into an inferno of a conversation on racism, history, and education. Arkansas, Tennesee, and Texas have already passed bans on critical race theory with more states on the way.
The Washington Post reported that Weingarten’s group is “preparing for litigation [to counter these laws] as we speak.” Andrew Crook, her spokesman, indicated that they have not yet honed in on specific targets but that the organization has “a legal-defense fund ready to go” and that they have about $12.5 million in its coffers specifically allocated for combating anti-CRT laws.
The conflict over CRT largely centers on conservatives’ contentions that teachers are using elements of the theory to indoctrinate students into a belief system that causes them to view themselves as “oppressor” or “oppressed.” Many different cases of this type of teaching have come to light as parents view the curriculum or respond to complaints from their children.
On the other hand, leftists claim that CRT is not being taught in schools and that the theory, along with the other types of teaching being used, is only about teaching accurate American history and helping children learn about racism. They also contend that those criticizing CRT don’t actually know what it is and that they are applying the label to any ideas that make them feel uncomfortable.
There is truth to the claim that many on the right are incorrectly applying the CRT label. However, even in these cases, the reality is just as bad as the theory itself. For example, the 1619 Project has nothing to do with Critical Race Theory. But the inaccurate narrative it promotes is every bit as dangerous as CRT. Much of what many conservatives believe to be CRT is actually woke theology, which again, is just another pernicious piece of pedagogy that many teachers are using in their classrooms. Even so, it is abundantly clear that at least some tenets of CRT are being distilled into the classroom environment.
In addition, the left’s insistence that this issue is simply about teaching history is deceptive. As stated previously, there have been many reports of white and minority students being grouped into various categories based on their skin color.
An Illinois teacher recently filed a lawsuit against her school district alleging that it segregated teachers by skin color during a training exercise. (See: Illinois Teacher Sues School District Over Critical Race Theory and Discrimination.) A Pennsylvania couple is suing their school district after it refused to allow their kids to be exempt from lessons that included topics like “white privilege,” “Black Lives Matter,” and assigned Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” as required reading. (See: Pennsylvania Parents Suing School District Over ‘Woke’ Curriculum)
Recently, the National Education Association (NEA) indicated it would promote Critical Race Theory in about 14,000 schools nationwide. While the NEA is not responsible for determining what type of curriculum is used in the classroom, they wield tremendous influence over school boards who do. While most schools are not teaching CRT or other types of woke theology, this is clearly an effort to remedy that situation. (See: Critical Race Theory Proponents Just Gave the Entire Game Away)
As it stands currently, opponents of Critical Race Theory in classrooms seem to be winning the messaging war. Multiple polls have been released showing that the majority of Americans do not favor having the tenets of CRT taught in their children’s classrooms. (See: Left-Leaning Study Reveals Some Catastrophic News for Democrats)
Still, the Critical Race Theory issue is not just relegated to the classrooms. The hard left is attempting to infuse this line of thinking, along with other precepts of woke theology, into other American institutions like the U.S. Armed Forces. This battle is far from over, but if conservatives can develop ideas and solutions to address the problems that CRT claims to solve, they can defeat this and other Marxist ideas from becoming dominant in American society.