The critical race theory debate is ongoing and has had a large media presence as of late. Some states, including Florida and Georgia, have already introduced bans on teaching critical race theory and related concepts in K-12 schools, and many plan to do so in the future. Opponents of critical race theory, many of whom are conservatives, object to critical race theory because they believe it accuses all white Americans of being racist and creates more divisions among people by race. On the other hand, supporters of critical race theory and those who are anti-anti critical race theory argue that critical race theory merely states that racism is systemic, present in U.S. laws and regulations. Teaching about the critical race theory debate is important because students should be given the opportunity to understand both sides of this debate on what information about race and racism should be discussed in the classroom and form their own opinions about where they stand.
There are a multitude of resources available online for teaching about the critical race theory debate. For educators who want to place more emphasis on the theory itself rather than the controversy surrounding it, U4SC has Teaching About Critical Race Theory. 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.
- Bills Banning Critical Race Theory Advance in States Despite Its Absence in Many Classrooms: U.S. News provides an article discussing bills banning critical race theory advance in states despite its absence in many classrooms. This article explains the reports and studies that have shown many students do not have many opportunities to discuss race/racism in their classrooms, while also digging into the conversations and legislation from GOP-led states that are banning critical race theory due to divisive conversations occurring in the classroom about racism and oppression.
- Teachers Say Laws Banning Critical Race Theory Are Putting A Chill On Their Lessons: npr offers an article discussing how teachers say laws banning critical race theory are putting a chill on their lessons. In light of this new legislation in several states, educators are being forced to second-guess whether they can have discussions with students about race and systemic racism during this critical time. Many are unsure of how to proceed without opening up their school systems to a possible lawsuit. For educators who are looking for a resource focused on how these anti-CRT bills are affecting other educators and school districts, this article is perfect!
- The Brewing Political Battle Over Critical Race Theory: This brief article from npr centers on the brewing political battle over critical race theory. Quoting from both supporters’ and opponents’ points of view, the article explains the rallying cry among some Republican lawmakers, how CRT may be “a stand-in for this larger anxiety” about people being upset about continued racism, the legislative action on state and national levels, how the idea that American society is post-racial is false, and the fact that CRT may be a motivator for the midterms.
- This Ninth Grade Class Shows Critical Race Theory Has A Place In Schools: Forbes provides an article detailing how an ethnic studies class in San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) aiming to provide “culturally relevant content” has benefitted students. An early study found that students taking the course had better attendance and grade averages, and the benefits have only grown over time. This course gives students “the opportunity to see their community reflected in the curriculum” and goes to show that good can result if schools can adopt a more sensitive approach to issues around race and ethnicity rather than taking the topics out of the curriculum altogether.
- Here’s What Black Students Have to Say About Critical Race Theory Bans: CBS News offers an article in which Black students from across the country share their thoughts about critical theory race bans. Overall, these students believe the ban is essentially a ban on “teaching the truth in history” and think it is so important for all kids, but especially Black kids, to learn about race and racism.
- Head of Teachers Union Says Critical Race Theory Isn’t Taught in Schools, Vows to Defend “Honest History”: This article from CBS News discusses how Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), has said that critical race theory isn’t even taught in elementary or high schools and calls the anti-CRT movement a “culture campaign” to “limit learning and stoke fears about our public schools.” Weingarten believes that these restrictions will only harm students and vows to defend members of AFT who get into trouble for teaching “honest history.”
Opponents of Critical Race Theory
- Teaching Race Doesn’t Mean Teaching Critical Race Theory: Fox News published an article discussing why teaching race doesn’t mean teaching critical race theory. The article defines critical race theory as a school of thought that “places race and racism at the center of public life and American institutions” and further explains that CRT drives a wedge between races, having a detrimental effect on Americans of all races. Ultimately, the article says the left wants to define America only by its mistakes, while the right also wants to teach our redemption.
- There’s Cause For Concern in Teaching Critical Race Theory: This opinion piece from the Boston Globe takes a look at why critical race theory is concerning. The article centers on the Wellesley Public Schools system, which like many other school districts, has focused many resources on teaching aspects of racism in America. Parents and other critics are concerned because while CRT is not being formally taught in K-12 education, its concepts are seeping into classrooms. The author specifically notes that “CRT seemingly brings with it an unspoken set of rules about who may say what to whom, and so speech that can be interpreted as hateful… is often suppressed, even punished, a situation that the courts have regularly found violates free speech rights…” and explains how a focus on race in schools has meant that “teachers and school officials have begun to treat those affected by racism differently.”
Supporters of Critical Race Theory / Anti-Anti-Critical Race Theory
- There Is No Debate Over Critical Race Theory: The Atlantic has published an article outlining why there is really no debate over critical race theory. It walks through how Republicans have buried the actual definition of critical race theory and proceeded to attack made-up definitions. Black Lives Matter demonstrators, cancel culture, 1619 Project and American history, and anti-racist education have all been lumped into the “monstrous evil” of critical race theory. According to the author, Ibram X. Kendi, this isn’t an argument because CRT critics are arguing against themselves, making up claims and sources of their criticism as they go along.
- Opinion | Let’s Talk About Critical Race Theory Bans in Schools: This podcast from The Argument focuses on critical race theory bans in schools. Jane Coaston and her guests Chris Rufo and Professor Ralph Richard Banks disagree on how concerned people should be about CRT taking over the American education system. For educators interested in finding a resource where they can hear the different sides of this argument, this podcast will be very helpful!
- State Lawmakers Are Trying to Ban Talk About Race in Schools: The ACLU provides an article detailing the nationwide attempt to ban discussions about race in the classroom. The article explains how these bans not only set back progress on addressing systemic racism in the United States but also takes away young people’s chance to have an inclusive education about race and the right to express themselves around these issues.
- Why Are States Banning Critical Race Theory?: Brookings Institution published an article covering why states are banning critical race theory. The article starts off by explaining what critical race theory is and what it isn’t. In short, opponents of CRT fear that it labels all white people as racist and classifies Black people as victims, but in reality, critical race theory states that U.S. social institutions have racism embedded in laws, regulations, and procedures. It goes on to provide information on anti-CRT legislation in the U.S. and explain why forbidding teachers from even mentioning race/racism puts a chill on lessons and classroom conversations.
- The Maddening Critical Race Theory Debate: This opinion piece in the New York Times takes somewhat of a different stance on critical race theory. The author, Michelle Goldberg, identifies her position as anti-anti-critical race theory because she disagrees with some ideas related to CRT around limiting speech, but she is extremely concerned by the efforts to demonize and ban it. Goldberg explains both sides of the debate, while giving insight into her perspective on the topic.
- Critical Race Theory – The Concept Dividing the U.S.: BBC News provides information on critical race theory—the concept dividing the U.S. The article discusses what critical race theory is, how critical race theory is taught, why the debate became a national controversy, what supporters and opponents say, who seems to have the upper hand, and where this debate goes from here.
- Critical Race Theory in the Classroom – Understanding the Debate: ABC News offers information on understanding the debate on critical race theory in the classroom. In this article, the author explains what critical race theory is and what makes the theory so controversial. Then, educators weigh in on the importance of teaching about race!
- What Is Critical Race Theory, and Why Do Republicans Want to Ban It In Schools: The Washington Post has published an article discussing what critical race theory is and why Republicans want to ban it in schools. The article covers what critical race theory is, what the criticisms of CRT are, what conservatives mean when they use the term ‘critical race theory,’ what CRT has to do with schools, and what the status of efforts to ban critical race theory is.
Teaching about the critical race theory debate is important because this ongoing controversy all comes down to how systemic racism and anti-racism should be taught and what information about our country’s history of racism should be taught in the classroom. This debate is not one that should be taken lightly! Again, a reminder that educators should be aware of their state’s laws on teaching about critical race theory and related concepts before using any of these resources in the classroom!