Arntzen, a Republican, asked fellow Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen for a legal opinion on teaching anti-racism and critical race theory.
Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is an area of legal study and analysis founded on the premise that racism has been and remains systemic in the United States. The theory examines the history of racism in institutional areas such as the criminal justice system and education as barriers to overcoming inequalities.
“Anti-racism” is named specifically in federal parlance, which Arntzen writes is often associated with critical race theory. In his request to the attorney general, Arntzen raises concerns about whether the teachings violate the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the constitutions of the United States and Montana.
“OPI is seriously concerned about the effect of this proposal on the education of Montana students,” the request said. “It also raises serious questions as to whether it encourages schools to treat students differently on the basis of race in violation of federal and state non-discrimination laws.”
OPI has not received this type of grant in the past and had no plans to apply, a spokesperson for the agency said.
Issues such as systemic racism have become a growing part of the national race conversation following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.