Doubling down on CRT
The radical Ethnic Studies addition to Minnesota’s proposed social studies standards encourages students to disrupt…
Education Minnesota — the state teachers’ union — has a series of resources for educators and school leadership on how to defend Critical Race Theory.
The documents, first reported on by American Experiment at Powerlineblog.com, are all titled, “Responding to politically motivated attacks on racial equity in schools,” but provide varied sample narratives for educators, school board members, and “advocates and allies” to use in response to pushback against Critical Race Theory.
Center of the American Experiment is specifically named as the enemy, with the union labeling our Raise Our Standards tour as an attempt to “push its false narrative about what’s being taught in our school to block kids from learning our shared stories of confronting injustice.” (Of course, no specific examples or references to the presentation American Experiment did on the tour were included to support the union’s claims.)
Education Minnesota continues in the documents by claiming that “the right” “uses the phrase ‘Critical Race Theory’ as a catch-all for their anxieties about losing power and dominance” and advises educators, school board members, and advocates and allies to avoid using the term CRT.
This phrase, unfamiliar to most audiences, has been redefined by the political right as an all-purpose racial dog whistle. Talk instead about the more honest and more complete education our students deserve.
No one pushing back against CRT believes students shouldn’t learn about slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, etc. These are facts, and when our history is taught well, it doesn’t omit America’s faults. But Education Minnesota’s support of the first draft social studies standards is not aligned with providing students a fuller picture of history, as the draft standards and benchmarks present history through a one-sided narrative in which one perspective dominates. This fails to give young people the broad historical context they need to put their own nation’s flaws into perspective, and the positive aspects of American history are not included.
Education Minnesota’s documents also tell teachers, school board members and advocates and allies to “seize the moral high ground” when responding to “attacks,” and ask why opponents are “attacking standards, equity and classroom educators.” Responses should also “avoid negative formulations like, ‘reducing racial disparities in test scores,’ or ‘closing the achievement gap.'” A section titled, “Responding to nonsense” guides readers through more direct responses to pushback against CRT, with the suggested answers not getting at the real-world application of CRT but focusing on children learning “hard truths” and “honest history.”
Again, this is distraction from the political premises of CRT and how it is being put into practice in schools, such as through “oppressor v. oppressed” activities that divide students by race (White Bear Lake) and segregated staff meetings (Minneapolis).
Critical Race Theory was originally an academic framework for legal analysis developed back in the 1970s/1980s — but that is not what it means today. The theory has moved from an obscure academic concept to its core political premises and tenets being pushed through “racial equity,” “antiracism” and “diversity and inclusion” policies. All of which focus on bedrock features of CRT without naming CRT: systemic racism, race essentialism, collective guilt, and neo-segregation.
These bedrock features have been driven by CRT supporters and practitioners through their own words.
“White identity is inherently racist; white people do not exist outside the system of white supremacy.” — Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility
“White people raise in Western society are conditioned into a white supremacist worldview because it is the bedrock of our society and its institutions.” — Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility
“Many critical race theorists and social scientists alike hold that racism is pervasive, systemic, and deeply ingrained.” — Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction
“Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, Critical Race Theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.” — Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction
It’s important to understand CRT as it defines itself. That paired with how it is being put into practice — its real-world application — shows it is not a narrowly defined discipline or a benign academic concept.
Downplaying what CRT looks like in practice (and ignoring all of its tenets and political premises) does not create a healthy environment, it does not help students develop into good citizens, and it certainly does not help restore and reconcile society.
If you are a Minnesota educator who no longer wants to financially support Education Minnesota’s political agenda, you can learn more about resigning from union membership during the annual September opt-out window (Sept. 1-Sept. 30) here.