In September 2020, former President Donald Trump released an executive order banning “divisive conservatives” that fit under the umbrella of Critical Race Theory. Since then, lawmakers across the country have steadily passed legislation to ensure CRT-related discussions came nowhere near the classroom, and those efforts are likely to persist through 2023.
“This destructive ideology is grounded in misrepresentations of our country’s history and its role in the world,” Trump’s 2020 executive order reads. “Although presented as new and revolutionary, they resurrect the discredited notions of the nineteenth century’s apologists for slavery who, like President Lincoln’s rival Stephen A. Douglas, maintained that our government “was made on the white basis” “by white men, for the benefit of white men.'”
Now, researchers are pointing to the impact such restrictive legislation has had on K12 and higher education.
A new report by CRT Forward, an initiative from the University of California Los Angeles School of Law Critical Race Studies Program, reveals some of the most prominent trends that came about over the last two years of what they call “the crusade against CRT.”
Let’s take a detailed look at these five trends:
- The Executive Order’s long-lasting legacy: Though it was rescinded just a few months after it was released, its language continues to exist in most forms of anti-CRT legislation. Of the 563 anti-CRT measures introduced between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2022, 41% seek to regulate one form of subject matter for being a “divisive concept.” In addition, one-third ban instruction of divisive concepts that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex,” the report reads.
- Most states have adopted at least one anti-CRT measure: As of Dec. 31, 2022, 28 states have incorporated at least one anti-CRT law at the state level. 16 of the 28 have adopted specific anti-CRT legislation.
- These measures heavily focus on K12 schools, colleges and universities: K12 and higher ed have received the brunt of the crusade, according to the report. 91% of all introduced measures (513) and 94% of all those enacted (226 of 241) target K12 education. However, its impact on higher ed is much less as only 20% of introduced measures and 12% of those enacted target such institutions.
- Measures against K12 schools restrict curriculum and classroom lessons: 73% of the 513 introduced measures regulate classroom teaching and 75% regulate curricular materials, the report reads. In fact, most of them regulate both. Furthermore, 147 of the 513 introduced measures require school districts to allow parents to surveil curriculum. 28% of these proposed measures have been adopted.
- One-third of introduced state legislation threatens to withhold funding if schools violate these laws: Teachers, schools and districts are walking on eggshells knowing of the consequences associated with violating anti-CRT legislation. In fact, 14% of the proposed state legislative measures allow for individual citizens to sue district officials and teachers for “alleged noncompliance.”
“The findings in this report suggest that the anti-‘CRT’ movement is not stagnating; indeed, government officials at all levels are introducing an equal or greater number of measures in 2023 as they did in 2021 or 2022,” the report reads. “The CRT Forward Tracking Project will continue to compile, track and analyze these efforts to aid researchers, advocates and activists in resisting this current attack.”
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