Teaching About Critical Race Theory


Critical race theory is a 40 year-old academic concept which argues that “historical patterns of racism are ingrained in law and other modern institutions, and that the legacies of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow still create an uneven playing field for Black people and other people of color” (New York Times). In other words, racism is not only the product of individual prejudices and discrimination but is systemic in America. There is an ongoing controversy regarding whether critical race theory should be present in K-12 education. Teaching about critical race theory is important when teaching about racism in modern American society. While the term “critical race theory” does not often come up in the classroom, its emphasis on the presence of systemic racism is essential in teaching about race and racism.


There are many resources available online for teaching about critical race theory, which has been a hot topic in the media and among politicians. For educators who want to focus on teaching their students about the ongoing controversy, U4SC has Teaching About the Critical Race Theory Debate. U4SC also offers Teaching About Race, Teaching About Anti-Racism, Teaching About White Supremacy and Systemic Racism, and several other related topic resources.

In addition, educators should be aware of their state’s laws related to teaching critical race theory and related concepts in the classroom.

Lesson Plans

  1. The 1619 Project: The 1619 Project “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” This project and its resources can be used by educators to teach their elementary, middle, and high school students about CRT and ultimately about the true history of the United States. (The 1619 project has been banned in certain states in addition to anti-CRT bans, so it is important for educators to be aware of what their state laws are.)


  1. What Is Critical Race Theory, and Why Is It Under Attack?: Education Week provides an article discussing critical race theory and why it is under attack. It explains what critical race theory is, whether critical race theory says all white people are racist, what any of this has to do with K-12 education, and what is going on with these proposals to ban critical race theory in schools. The article is meant to be a starting point to help educators grasp the core aspects of critical race theory and the current debate.
  2. What Is Critical Race Theory and Why Are People So Upset About It?: U.S. News offers an article explaining what critical race theory is and why people are so upset about it. The article covers what critical race theory is, why people are talking about critical race theory and the 1619 Project right now, what is at stake politically with critical race theory, where critical race theory goes from here.
  3. What Is Critical Race Theory, and Why Is Everyone Talking About It?: Columbia has published an article discussing what critical race theory is and why everyone is talking about it. In this article, three Columbia Law School professors explain critical race theory and how it is misunderstood, specifically outlining why this is urgent and necessary work, the importance of forcing legal scholars to ask questions, and why this is about racial justice. 
  4. What Critical Race Theory Is — And Isn’t: CNN provides an article outlining what critical race theory is and isn’t. The article explains what critical race theory is, who came up with the idea, how it has evolved over the years, where it is taught, and why there is so much resistance to it.

Informational Sites

  1. What Is Critical Race Theory?: The New York Times provides an article with information on what critical race theory is. This was published after the Daily’s episode The Debate Over Critical Race Theory came out, and it goes over the definition of critical race theory, examples of how critical race theory is being taught in schools, criticism of the theory from the left, and what listeners should read it they want to learn more about critical race theory.
  2. Critical Race Theory – A Brief History: The New York Times has published an article giving a brief history of critical race theory. After walking through the basics on critical race theory and the debate surrounding it, the article discusses what happened forty years ago and what critical race theory is used for today.
  3. Critical Race Theory (1970s-Present): Purdue Online Writing Lab offers some information on critical race theory. This informational article contains an introduction, common questions, an explanation of why this approach should be used, and important terms (white privilege, microaggressions, institutionalized racism, social construction, intersectionality and anti-essentialism).


Teaching about critical race theory is important because a common misconception about racism is that it continues through individuals with prejudices when it is largely perpetuated by the laws and regulations of American social institutions. Overall, one of the most important parts of this process is understanding what anti-CRT laws mean for educators. This article from Learning for Justice explains many related concepts, including whether educators can teach issues pertaining to racism, whether the anti-CRT laws are legal, and what they can do to address these laws.