Posted on September 30, 2021

Conservative Koch Network Disavows Critical Race Theory Bans

Thomas Beaumont, Associated Press, September 29, 2021

As conservative political groups mobilize to ban in schools what they call critical race theory, one prominent backer of Republican causes and candidates is notably absent.

Leaders in the network built by the billionaire Koch family say they oppose government bans over teaching about race and history in schools. While they note they don’t agree with the ideas at the center of the fight, they argue the government bans, now enacted in 11 states, stifle debate essential to democracy.

“Using government to ban ideas, even those we disagree with, is also counter to core American principles — the principles that help drive social progress,” said Evan Feinberg, executive director of the Koch-affiliated Stand Together Foundation.


The Koch organization first went public with its position last spring, as state lawmakers and conservative groups began passing legislation that bans from classrooms specific concepts, including the idea that racism is systemic in society and the U.S. legal system.

The efforts were prompted in part by backlash to The 1619 Project, a New York Times Magazine initiative aimed at rethinking the role of slavery in the nation’s history and development.

In a letter published in The Chronicle of Higher Education in May, Charlie Ruger, the Charles Koch Foundation’s vice president of philanthropy, described Republicans’ push to ban these concepts from schools as a gag on free expression.


The Koch political behemoth — a multibillion-dollar umbrella of foundations and a political action committee — was built by brothers Charles and David Koch out of the family’s Kansas-based business empire during the 1980s and 1990s. Though David Koch died in 2018, the network has continued to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into organizations and politics that push for small government, lower taxes, deregulation, free speech, academic freedom and a conservative judiciary.


{snip} Last year, the Koch network helped create Heal America, a faith-based program aimed at fighting “racial injustice with love and redemption,” according to its website. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and television commentator Van Jones, a Democrat, have both participated in events.