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The Biggest Lie About Critical Race Theory

What is and isn’t being taught in our schools

By Martin Marks, October 31, 2022 2:30 am

Sure. There are many lies, half-truths, and hyperbole emanating from the controversial concept known as Critical Race Theory (CRT). Many reasonable thinkers have already and continue to opine on the fallacies espoused in CRT, and the notions contained within—when held to scholarly scrutiny–appear to have fallen out of favor with all but the extreme Left—a not so insignificant number of individuals and institutions.

Yet perhaps the biggest lie out there concerning Critical Race Theory promulgated by the Left is that somehow it is not being incorporated into school curricula and taught to our children, but rather exists only at some esoteric university level for those choosing a pathway to a racial studies degree. Not so. Critical Race Theory, or more aptly, significant components of CRT are in fact being taught to our children in schools districts across the nation.

First, we ought to examine what exactly is Critical Race Theory. CRT has been around for several decades and essentially posits six concepts:

  1. Race is a social construct and not based upon biology or genetics. In this way, CRT proponents set forth that race has been used to associate a set of physical characteristics such as skin color with a generalized set of psychological and behavioral predispositions (both positive and negative), and therefore justify a system of oppression by white Americans of western European decent over persons of color.
  2. Racism, especially in the United States, continues to be the norm and not aberrational and is the experience of most people of color. And while the racism may not be as overt as it was 50 years ago and earlier, more subtle forms of generalized racism prevail in the form of what CRT proponents like to call “microaggressions”.
  3. The concept of “interest convergence” whereby any advances, whether they be legal, institutional, or attitudinal by people of color in American society were made because they ultimately served the interests of the political elite; the aforementioned white power brokers of western European decent looking to enhance American influence across the globe.
  4. Members of minority groups over time are attributed evolving negative stereotypes or “differential racialization” in order to serve the needs of the white power elite.
  5. The concept of intersectionality, where no one individual can be wholly defined by representation in any one group. Intersectionality is defined as “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping systems of discrimination and disadvantage.” 
  6. “The Voice of Color” thesis which holds that people of color are uniquely qualified to speak on behalf of others in their group regarding the effects of racism in society.

While the academic and intellectual criticisms of Critical Race Theory are vast and come from a cross section of the political divide, CRT has been generally criticized as being a vehicle that allows all facets of American life to be viewed through the prism of race, and that all of society’s individuals can be pigeonholed into either oppressors or victims. With a belief that posits that all white people (including white children) are inherently oppressors of people of color, and that all people of color should accept that they are victims of such oppression, how could any logical thinker not hold that Critical Race Theory is not only factually inaccurate, but also a danger to American society— especially when taught to our youngest students?

Ultimately, most CRT opponents proffer that the philosophy is being employed to further divide society on the basis of race rather than continue on a path to eliminate the nation’s remaining vestiges of racism. And while the debate over CRT’s legitimacy is a worthy one, it is not the central premise meant to be heard within. 

Radical Leftists and their willing enablers in the mainstream media such as NBC News, The New York Times, PBS, and others, somehow sensing that the concept of Critical Race Theory being formally taught to our children in K-12 schools is, at the very least inappropriate, have contended that CRT is not part of school curricula and lesson plans and is rather just some high-brow theory being taught in universities and law schools.  According to the Left, contention of CRT in K-12 curricula is simply an effort by conservatives to score some political points. Evidence would dictate otherwise.

Just a few short years ago in 2018 a comprehensive tome entitled Critical Race Theory in Education was published that provided for how CRT can be incorporated in education—primary and secondary education in particular. Some in the education biz were already on board and some have since taken the premise of the book to heart.  Accordingly, there have been many instances where the core tenets of CRT such as White Privilege and Systemic Racism have been found to be incorporated into school curricula.

Look no further than the State of Pennsylvania’s Department of Education website on Racial and Ethnic Identity with a recommended school reading list of many authors advocating the Critical Race Theory premise. 

In Buffalo, NY students are being taught the core premises of CRT with subtle lesson plans in kindergarten involving different color crayons and building to a crescendo in middle and high school where teachers are instructed to present lessons in “systemic racism,” with emphasis that American society was designed for the “impoverishment of people of color and enrichment of white people,” and that the United States “created a social system that had racist economic inequality built into its foundation.”

Then, of course there was the celebrated hullabaloo in Virginia last year leading up to the election of Republican Glenn Younkgkin over incumbent Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Among other issues, the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools took center stage with promises made to ban it as any part of K-12 curricula. Democrats decried this as a non-issue as they claimed CRT was not being taught in schools and this was just an attempt by Republicans to gin up support among their conservative base. Vile accusations of racism and white supremacy were made against Virginia Republicans as a result. (As an aside, Virginians elected an African American Lieutenant Governor in the same election……but I digress). Once again one would only have to look at the Virginia Department of Education website (at the time) to reveal that while the term Critical Race Theory was not specifically mentioned, many of the themes and vernacular of CRT, in addition to quotes from prominent CRT authors were present.

So, are these instances just the proverbial outliers as many on the Left would contend? Is this simply a game of semantics that would lead us to believe that CRT is not being taught to our children? New evidence arriving on the scene would prove otherwise. The initial results from a Manhattan Institute report are in and the results are fairly clear.  

A survey of 18–20-year-olds across the nation was done where these recently graduated young Americans were asked if at any time in their education were they taught about any of the above-mentioned 6 concepts of Critical Race Theory. 62 percent reported either being taught in class or hearing from an adult in school that “America is a systemically racist country,” 69 percent reported being taught or hearing that “white people have white privilege,” 57 percent reported being taught or hearing that “white people have unconscious biases that negatively affect non-white people,” and 67 percent reported being taught or hearing that “America is built on stolen land.” More than 90% of those surveyed reported being taught at least one of the CRT concepts.

Further, when these same respondents were asked if any opposing viewpoints or alternative theories were proffered in their lessons, 68 percent responded that they either were not taught about opposing arguments or were taught that there are no “respectable” opposing arguments,

Interestingly, these results did not vary in any statistically meaningful way for those who identified themselves as black or white, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, or publicly or privately educated.

When a student is presented with a lesson that is arguably controversial with no reasonable opposing viewpoint at an age that we can agree is more impressionable, can this be considered education or perhaps something else—like indoctrination?

So, while the phrase Critical Race Theory might not have been found in any official school curricula, or in any teacher’s lesson plan, it is patently obvious that CRT was and is being taught—or more aptly—fed to our young students. Accordingly, state legislatures across the nation have enacted laws that either specifically ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory or many of the concepts contained within.

 In California, however a predictable alternative approach has been taken. In 2021, the California Department of Education voted to adopt the fourth version of an ethnic studies curriculum after four years, three previous versions, and more than 100,000 objections. The objections were primarily based upon the concepts of CRT being prominently featured in the state curriculum. 

And while the state has taken a position, individual California school boards continue to grapple with, and in some instances have taken action on the promotion and teaching of CRT. Both the Placentia-Yorba Linda school district in Orange County and the Paso Robles school district in San Luis Obispo County have placed bans on teaching Critical Race Theory or elements of CRT in the classroom. Other districts are likely to follow.

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