Education Week’s Sarah Schwartz recently reported that “Lawmakers in eight states have introduced legislation that may make it harder for teachers to talk about racism, sexism, and bias in the classroom.”

Those eight states banning “the teaching of what they deem ‘divisive’ or ‘racist and sexist’ concepts” are: Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. Schwartz goes on to explain that “all of the legislation uses similar phrasing in listing topics that would be off-limits to teach and include:

  • That one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
  • That the United States or specific states are fundamentally racist or sexist;
  • That individuals, because of their race or sex, are inherently oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
  • That anyone should feel ‘discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress’ because of their race or sex.

Furthermore, Schwartz notes that “earlier this year, lawmakers in several states pushed to ban schools from teaching curriculum designed around the 1619 Project, “a New York Times series that aims to reframe United States history by putting the legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at its center.”

As for the Critical Race Theory (CRT) specifically, legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw says, “It’s an approach to grappling with a history of white supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it.”

Meanwhile, Rhode Island Republican Patricia Morgan who proposed her state’s divisive concept’s bills calls CRT “a divisive, destructive, poisonous ideology that encourages people to judge each other by the color of their skin. It makes white males oppressors… and it makes everyone else the victim.”

The piece ends with Anthony Jones, director of equity at Ames Community School District in Ames, Iowa who says, “When we’re having conversations about things that we’re unaware of or even uncomfortable with, we need to lean into that so that we can learn.”

When done right and with no political agenda in sight, that’s what education is all about, no?

~With thanks, Carol