A new report on state measures to ban critical race theory said legislatures should look to North Carolina as a model for proposing legislation that both bans the controversial theory and avoids censorship.
The report authored by the American Enterprise Institute’s Max Eden explained that there are three approaches being deployed in legislative efforts to ban critical race theory in public schools, but it said bills that ban the promotion of the theory are the model legislation.
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Critical race theory says American institutions and culture are fundamentally and systemically racist and actively oppress racial minorities. Critical race theorists say that to oppose systemic racism, one must be “anti-racist.”
The issue of critical race theory in public schools has generated substantial controversy nationwide over the past year as parent groups have organized against school officials to push back against the inclusion of aspects of the theory in public school curriculum.
Liberal activists and Democratic politicians have repeatedly insisted that the theory is not taught in public schools despite substantial evidence to the contrary. That evidence has prompted Republican-controlled state legislatures to pass legislation seeking to ban the theory.
But Eden, in his report, explained that state legislatures have either sought to ban “compulsion," "inclusion," or "promotion." He said the latter, which was embraced by the state Legislature in North Carolina as it sought to ban CRT, is the best model for legislatures to follow.
Banning promotion prohibits school districts from even incorporating critical race theory in teacher training programs or contracting speakers or consultants that integrate it into their programs, he said.
“This approach encompasses the prohibition against compulsion,” Eden wrote. “But most importantly, it threads the needle of preventing the politicization of the classroom without presenting any barrier to honest and accurate classroom instruction.”
The bid to ban critical race theory in North Carolina fell short after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation. Meanwhile, differing versions of critical race theory bans have passed in several states, and numerous state legislatures have pending legislation.
Eden was clear about the need for critical race theory bans in his report, taking aim at columnist and author David French, who said the theory would effectively be banned if existing federal civil rights laws were properly enforced.
Such an approach was insufficient, Eden wrote.
“Until such time as the federal government signals that it will faithfully enforce the Civil Rights Act, states have a constitutional duty to act,” he said.
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“The state surely has an interest in assuring that the next generation is not educated in state-run schools to oppose the foundational principles of the state,” Eden continued. “The state has an even higher obligation to act on behalf of the parents whose children it educates. CRT-inspired pedagogy at times aims to subvert the family itself, teaching ideas such as ‘it [is] important to disrupt the Western nuclear family dynamics as the best/proper way to have a family.’”