As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, where thousands of students K-12 were forced to learn from home, we see parents becoming more and more involved in their child’s education, as the average American home has transformed into both the work space for the parent and the school for the child. While parents defend their interest in their children’s education as looking to ensure the education their children are receiving is quality, the overinvolvement in curriculum has rather the opposite effect. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a concept parents in recent months have been avidly protesting against teaching to K-12 students. Contrary to this opposition, however, Critical Race Theory is not being taught in K-12 at all.
In a 17 year Google Trends highlight, search results for “Critical Race Theory” have only exploded in interest since June of 2021. This implies that people are ill-informed about what CRT is in the first place.
CRT refers to a theorem practiced in law concerning the intersection of race and law and further explorations of a racially biased justice system. While this theorem may be controversial to some parents, it is not actually being taught in K-12 schools, as it is a high level law theorem discussed in law school. Thus, this begs the question — if parents are not protesting the teaching of CRT in their child’s school… what are they protesting?
What parents are protesting is the blaming of one specific racial or ethnic group in teaching history as they believe it is the political-division of America today. The Idaho State law bill NO. 377 entitled “Dignity and Nondiscrimination in Public Education Act” bans teaching in history that, “individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin.” This law, similar to others being introduced across the country, asserts that educators are banned from teaching students history from a specific perspective or describing how this history involves race, ethnicity, gender and religion.
Nevertheless, this is not what the law is being used to ban in practice, as there is a gray area of what educators are permitted to say about historical issues involving race, religion and ethnicity. Slavery and the Holocaust fall within this area. For example, the statement “white people have contributed to slavery because of the racial hierarchy of the time, which has effects on racial relations today,” would be banned as a result of the Idaho bill, as this statement discusses a racial group heading an action and furthermore that the historical action has effects on society to this day. The bill seeks to avoid involving discussions of race, ethnicity, gender and religion in teaching topics that concern these very concepts, such as slavery.
The bill also impacts the teaching of ethnicity-related historical events such as the Holocaust. In one Texas school district, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District, Gina Peddy, was recorded on tape as saying “Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979… And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.” The application of the House bill in which Peddy was referencing is being used to teach America’s children an unbiased view of underlined racial events in world history such as the Holocaust, however, “unbiased” and “Holocaust” in the same sentance does not seem to make much sense ethically to some protestors, and neither does avoiding discussions of race in inherentley race-related topics such as that of slavery.
Discussions surrounding race-related history may be uncomfortable for some, however, there is no sugarcoating history, and race is impossible to remove from events such as slavery and the Holocaust. Several bills like Idaho’s have been passed throughout the country since September, which raises questions surrounding what type of history will be taught to the younger generations. States including Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Tennessee have passed similar legislation which bans the teaching of CRT. With curriculum surrounding race-related events in history being controlled in certain aspects, it begs the question of whether this will improve the quality of education and, furthermore, the wellness of our society, or worsen it.
One thought on “Critical Race Theory is not being taught in K-12”