Critical Race Theory fears a mixture of the predictable, the extravagant and the justified

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For other perspectives read: States are right to pass CRT laws | Teaching critical race theory is patriotic.

Republican lawmakers from about two dozen states have introduced or obtained passage of bills to censor children’s education on race.

What exactly are they afraid of?

Much of this stems from the demagoguery of President Donald Trump’s “liberal indoctrination of American youth” last year, when he created a commission to promote “patriotic” education in the classroom. (President Joe Biden killed the panel.)

This is partly due to the reaction to the New York Times Pultizer Prize-winning “Project 1619,” which argues that black Americans first brought to this country as slaves are the foundation of American democracy. – and that the conservatives fear that this is a kind of revisionism that will infiltrate schools. (The class program for the project has already been developed.)

And some fear that children may be exposed to vaguely understood academic concepts like Critical Race Theory, which right-wing critics say stigmatizes whites as oppressors.

“Critical race theory says I am a white supremacist,” Texas lawmaker Steve Toth, a sponsor of the state’s school censorship law, told an Austin TV station.

He is wrong about critical race theory and what it says about him. But the accumulated fear behind this wave of legislation is a mixture of predictable, extravagant and even justified.

Police class discussions on race and racism

Project 1619, for example, while it was a noble and ambitious effort to illustrate the centrality of slavery in American history, oversold its premises to the point of committing a historical misinterpretation that the editors initially denied and then seemed to concede only partially.

A classroom in Rye, NY, in May 2021.

Even so, addressing all of these concerns by controlling class discussions about race with state law is like using a shotgun to drive mosquitoes out of a bedroom.

First of all, the new laws may very well be a violation of freedom of expression.

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Beyond that, legislation is far too blunt and impractical a tool to surgically restrain some controversial theories of education without cooling all discussions on the subject of race. Concerned Texan educators rightly feared their state’s new law – with its long list of racial concepts and views that ‘can’t’ be taught – could end the classroom debate about race as a factor. contributing to hiring, housing, police shootings, presidential elections and countless other places.

Critical race theory is often misunderstood and misinterpreted

How is stifling this kind of discussion a healthy way to expand the minds of young people?

In addition, school districts that violate such laws risk losing state funding, and as judicial policy expert Jeffrey Sachs argues, “the people who actually analyze these (racial) terms… will be the paranoid headmaster of a cash-strapped high schoolthe city attorney shouted that prevention is better than cure. “

Critical breed theory: What is it and why do Republicans oppose teaching it in schools?

A key target of this educational censorship is the often misunderstood academic concept of critical race theory. Basically, this decades-long academic framework, which examines the circumstances in which statistics show a disproportionate impact on minorities, attempts to explain why these inequalities persist and offers achievable goals for overcoming them – in areas such as bank lending. , discriminatory work practices, populations, police shootings and even higher rates of COVID-19 in black and Latino communities.

Rally Against Critical Race Theory in Leesburg, Va., June 12, 2021.

Rally Against Critical Race Theory in Leesburg, Va., June 12, 2021.

This suggests the reality of white supremacy in social systems and that racism has become endemic to legal processes and public policies. Critics hang on to these terms to claim that the theory tries to divide Americans. But a better answer than trying to root it out of classrooms is to employ teachers who can help students think through the concept for themselves.

As USA TODAY contributor Larry Strauss, an English teacher at a high school in South Los Angeles, explained, “I don’t teach critical breed theory and I never will. students) about it and help them understand its claims and the appropriate evidence to support those claims – but it should always be up to the students to come to their own conclusions. ”

He is absolutely right.

Lawmakers should stay out of the classroom. The curriculum, whether racial or ‘rhyming’, is aimed at school board members, principals and teachers themselves – education experts accountable to the class and to the teacher. the community – to sort it out for the educational enrichment of their students.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its editorial board, which is separate from the press staff and the USA TODAY Network. Most editorials are associated with an opposing view, a unique feature of USA TODAY.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Teaching Critical Race Theory Does Not Try to Divide Americans




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