Earlier this month, the Legal Insurrection Foundation (LIF), in collaboration with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, offered an eye-opening webinar titled “How Critical Race Training is Harming K-12.” This followed LIF’s launch of a website that focuses on Critical Race Training (CRT) in higher education. With CRT now expanding rapidly in primary and secondary education as well, LIF assembled a diverse panel of educators and policy leaders in a discussion of this trend, why it endangers our children and what can be done about it.
William Jacobson, a clinical law professor at Cornell Law School and president of LIF, began the discussion by saying he first became concerned about the effects of CRT in higher education, noting there had been warning signs at many campuses where the assumption of “systemic racism” had become commonplace. In 2020 the influence and impact of CRT became clear.
This prompted LIF’s development of a website demonstrating the spread and harmful impact of CRT on college and university environments—both academic and social. The higher education-focused website has been very well received, but Jacobson then received numerous requests to expose how CRT is spreading to K-12 schools.
Jacobson is clear this is not a Left/Right issue and CRT contradicts our core principles around equality by recommending discrimination to achieve equity. Its proponents, he warns, are loud and persistent, and create a framework where opposition to CRT is labeled “racism.” He said most parents remain unaware of what is being taught and are shocked when they learn what is in the typical CRT curriculum.
Thomas Lindsay, a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, explained the origins of CRT in Critical Race Theory. The latter stems from Karl Marx’s premise that all history is the history of class struggle. In Critical Race Theory, however, all aspects of life are interwoven with racial prejudice and its logic and language stem from power dynamics. “White supremacy” and “systemic racism” are ever-present, and students must therefore learn not the traditional civics of the U.S. republic, but “action civics.”
In action civics, the teaching of core content knowledge—government structures and processes, Constitutional rights and responsibilities, etc.—takes a very distant back seat to the development of civic action skills. The combination of CRT and action civics can, Lindsay cautions, lead to ongoing violence and disregard for the rule of law.
All the speakers advised the audience to be confident and defiant fighting against CRT. Dr. Richard A. Johnson III, director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said although Critical Race Theory is not grounded in logic and is not the way most Black Americans look at the world, it is dangerous to ignore or dismiss it. He was joined by Nicole Neily, president of Speech First, an organization that seeks to protect free speech rights on college campuses. She advised K-12 parents and guardians to become more active in their schools, organize with other concerned adults, demand curriculum transparency and expose what their children are being taught in CRT.
Noting California’s sound defeat last November of Proposition 16, a measure that would have removed a 24-year-old prohibition on affirmative action by state and local agencies, Wenyuan Wu, executive director of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, joined Neily in encouraging opposition to CRT. “Real people,” she added, “believe in equal protection and treatment.”
Lindsay contributed several examples of legislation that would ban CRT in public education. Note: On March 19. the California State Board of Education unanimously approved an ethnic studies model curriculum. As The Wall Street Journal said on March 17, “Once it’s approved the legislature can again send Mr. Newsom its bill to make it mandatory for K-12 students.”
Anyone concerned about the spread of CRT in our schools would benefit from viewing this webinar. But be prepared for some of the more sobering thoughts expressed. These include Wu’s warning the anti-CRT movement needs umbrella groups to represent parents and students who are reasonably concerned about their safety, and Lindsay’s question: “Have you ever known of a country in the history of the world that required its taxpayers to fund the teaching of doctrines that teach their children to hate their country?”
Civic Education vs. Action Civics
Thomas Lindsay’s presentation from the Roundtable’s Virtual Summit on K-12 Education held in February 2021.
Interview with Wenyuan Wu
Executive Director for Californians for Equal Rights Wenyuan Wu joins host Debi Ghate to share the story of the campaign against Prop. 16 and affirmative action.