Critical Race Theory: Progression or Regression?

Today's critical race theory ("CRT") curriculum seeks to "de-centralize whiteness," and schools around the country are beginning to separate students and teachers by race—a practice that civil rights activists of the 20th century devoted their lives to abolish. Schools are creating "diversity, inclusion, and equity" committees; teachers must confess their racist tendencies; and students must participate in "privilege walks," where white students take three steps forward and black students take five steps backwards to represent their oppressed status.

Ian Rowe from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) discussed CRT in this AEI podcast. Rowe argues that CRT in schools today ventures into abusing and violating The Civil Rights Act of 1964, as it essentially teaches children that their value is based on their skin color. This is untrue, and Rowe highlights how people keep going back to this idea in order to make progress, but instead move away from a world that is free of racism.

He points out the flaws in our system:

Fundamentally, we have a civics problem in our country, in which young people don't have a clear understanding of the...origin story of our country, the don't have even an understanding of our accurate history; what is now happening is that there has been this introduction of false history...being taught.

Rowe wants school boards to know that when it comes to CRT: there is another option. Rowe and others of 1776 Unites (website here) have created a genuine, authentic, and compelling way to teach American history. He describes it as a more complete telling of the African American experience in the United States that includes slavery and oppression, but also a story of resiliency and triumph in the face of those obstacles. More than 17,000 people in all 50 states have already downloaded the curriculum.

Contrast that with content such as a project by the New York Times called the "1619 Project," which claims America was not founded in 1776:

Rowe explains:

[The project] claims that the founding ideals were false when they were written—can you imagine that? Those founding ideals of family, faith, hard work, entrepreneurship, free enterprise—it was the embrace of those founding principles that empowered discriminated Americans, especially black Americans, to move from persecution to prosperity."

Another AEI fellow, Max Eden, took to the New York Post to speak about the dangers of CRT:

This year, Biden’s OCR [Office for Civil Rights] suspended a decision that Illinois’ Evanston/Skokie School District violated Title VI’s prohibition on racial discrimination when it segregated staff by race, instructed teachers to treat students differently based on race, publicly shamed white students based on their race and taught that “whiteness” was a contract with the devil.

The action sent a clear signal that OCR didn’t intend to enforce anti-discrimination law to protect white students or teachers.

AEI fellows are not alone in the fight against CRT. Kimberly Hermann is General Counsel of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which has submitted a formal comment to the Department of Education on its rule related to CRT. The letter from the Southern Legal Foundation states:

Today, we find ourselves on multiple battlegrounds fighting to save the American Republic. One of the most important battlegrounds is the fight against illegal and unconstitutional curriculum in our K-12 schools that treat our children differently based on race. It divides our country. It is not healthy. It erases decades of progress. And it pits our children against each other, teaching them to hate one another.

[T]hese proposed priorities are just the beginning of the federal government’s aggressive attempt to control our nation’s K-12 classrooms and replace history (and objective truth) with identity politics and a warped view of American civics and institutions.

Rowe, Eden, and Hermann will speak on the Critical Race Theory Panel at the 2021 National Policy Conference on September 24th in Arlington, Virginia.