James Varney, Washington Times, May 2, 2021
Lawmakers in at least a dozen states have introduced bills to stop schools from adopting a curriculum sweeping the country that teaches that White people are inherently racists, but only in Oklahoma has the legislation become law or gained traction.
Stopping the racism-centric education model, known as critical race theory, has become a cause celebre among conservatives, yet many bills in mostly Republican-run legislatures that would keep the curriculum out of K-12 schools have failed to garner widespread support.
A survey by The Washington Times found state legislatures littered with remains of bills that targeted critical race theory.
The legislation died in Republican-led Mississippi, South Dakota and Arizona and in the Democratic-majority legislature in Rhode Island. In Arkansas, three bills to block racism-centric curricula have died and a fourth has been introduced.
However, Idaho last week became the first state to ban its use for “indoctrination” in public schools, and legislation also has made it to the governor’s desk in Oklahoma.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed the legislation late Wednesday, which, while it doesn’t ban teaching about the theory, does say that educators may not make students “affirm, adopt or adhere to” several major tenets of critical race theory, such as that individuals of any race are responsible for past actions done by members of the same group.
In Oklahoma, the office of Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt did not respond Friday to a request for comment, but Republican state Sen. Shane Jett, who introduced the bill, said he is confident that the governor will sign it.
The bill would prohibit “certain employees from being required to engage in certain training, orientation or therapy that presents any form of certain stereotyping or blame.”
Legislation also is still alive in New Hampshire, Texas, Iowa, Missouri and West Virginia.
Supporters of the bills offered various explanations for the hard slog.
What plays a major role, said several lawmakers sponsoring the bills, is the risk of being labeled a racist.
“Some Republicans may not understand the threat that CRT ideology is to American values or the extent to which CRT is being pushed in organizations, public universities and public schools,” said New Hampshire state Rep. Keith Ammon. “A few buy into the objections from the left without giving the issue much study. And still others may fear that if they publicly support it, they’ll be called bad names in the press and it will hurt their political ambitions.”
Arkansas state Rep. Mark Lowery, a Republican, introduced a bill prohibiting critical race theory’s tactics, which he said could be described as bullying in school.
The bill came out of committee with strong support but then died in the full House, where Republicans hold a 76-24 majority.
“Fellow legislators came up to me and started showing me these text messages they were getting from university people claiming they would lose the accreditation and the like,” he said. “That isn’t true, none of that was true, but suddenly I could see people getting cold feet.”
Critical race theory, the brainchild of far-left academics, has swept through many elite private schools and is now making inroads in public schools nationwide. It holds that White people are inherent “oppressors” and retain political and economic power by subjugating people of color.
The pedagogy teaches that American institutions are suffused with racism and must be torn down to rebuild society along with what critical race theorists define as “anti-racist” lines.
When Americans see how critical race theory accuses White people of deep flaws regardless of their thoughts or actions, they are appalled, Mr. Jett said.
For the most part, lawmakers and supporters of the bills remain confident.
“Parents do not want to see their children brainwashed to believe the American system of government is evil and racist,” Mr. Jett said.