After months of public outrage, raucous school board meetings, and a host of resignations from teachers and administrators, it looks clear that the push for Critical Race Theory-inspired curriculum and other radical ideology in schools may be backfiring on the Left.
The most recent evidence comes from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which conducted a recent poll showing that Americans of all backgrounds and political stripes are no fans of the latest wave of leftist extremism in public education, and instead most people want schools to focus on teaching traditional values and skills.
According to the survey, 81% of whites, 81% of blacks, and 87% of Hispanics believe that “the best place for kids to learn to take pride in their ethnic or racial identity is at home,” and the same percentage said that “school is where they should be learning about what it means to be an American” was very or somewhat close to their view
Similarly, 70% of whites, 69% of blacks, and 70% of Hispanics also said the following sentence was very or somewhat close to their view: “The schools these days pay too much attention to the differences between ethnic and racial groups and not enough to what they have in common.”
Not only do these figures support anecdotal evidence of widespread parent outrage with the woke curricula seen in viral videos of school board meetings, they also contradict the leftist narrative that minority groups want schools to focus on identity and racial essentialism over core curriculum. After all, if that were true, how could an overwhelming majority of whites, blacks, and other minorities say they believe that schools focus way too much on what divides, rather than what unites students? Such a sentiment is difficult to square with the belief of Critical Race Theorists that even subjects like math contain elements of “systemic racism.”
Not only do large majorities of parents from different ethnic backgrounds believe schools have become too focused on race and arbitrary divisions, they also believe schools need to teach the importance of national unity, regardless of race. The same AEI study also found that 85% of whites, 84% of blacks, and 78% of Hispanics believed it was “absolutely essential for public schools to teach kids… that whatever their ethnic or racial background, they are all part of one nation.”
Additionally, according to the study 69% of whites, 63% of blacks, and 61% of Hispanics believe children should be taught “that the US is a fundamentally good country,” while 89% of whites, 84% of blacks, and 88% of Hispanics “would be upset/be somewhat concerned if a teacher… constantly criticized America’s economy and political system.” Even more tellingly, and directly contrary to the Critical Race Theory narrative, 86% of whites, 81% of blacks, and 80% of Hispanics said they would be “upset” or “somewhat concerned” if a teacher “taught America was, and still is, a fundamentally racist country.” This is, of course, the core tenet of Critical Race Theory.
The AEI poll is hardly the only one in recent months to report such findings. According to a poll from The Economist earlier this year, more than half of those surveyed who said they understood Critical Race Theory said they had an unfavorable opinion of it. In May, Parents Defending Education found that 80% of respondents opposed using classrooms to promote political activism, 74% opposed teaching that white people are inherently privileged and people of color are inherently oppressed, and 69% opposed schools teaching that America was founded on racism and is structurally racist.
School board members who promote Critical Race Theory-inspired curriculum have also found themselves the subject of recall efforts throughout the country in places like Loudoun County, Virginia, which has become ground zero in the national fight against the ideology. Democrat candidate for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has taken a beating on the issue recently after openly admitting that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” As could be expected, Virginia taxpayers who fund those schools were none too happy with the remark. Moreover, McAuliffe’s comments were only one example of an alarming trend of Democrat politicians and activists arguing that parents should have no say in what their children are taught in school.
In short, all indicators suggest that Critical Race Theory may well be in critical condition. While teachers’ unions have begun to defend teaching the theory in K-12 classrooms after initially claiming for months that it was not being taught outside of law schools, public perception appears to be firmly opposed to Critical Race Theory and a host of other woke policies that the left attempted to sneak into school curriculum.
If this truly is the case, the next and most important step for those leading the charge against Critical Race Theory is to translate public opposition into concrete change at the ballot box. While the aforementioned school board recall efforts are a promising start, concerned parents and citizens must also organize to make their voices heard at the state and federal level as well, especially as the Biden Department of Education throws its weight behind the Critical Race Theory agenda.
Ultimately, it will likely take a massive, sustained grassroots effort over the course of several election cycles to defeat Critical Race Theory for good and fully restore honest and balanced education back into every American classroom. While reaching that end goal is undoubtedly a daunting task, the promising signs seen thus far, both through public polling and a tangible energy in local communities, provide hope that it is a goal that is both attainable and well worth the effort.
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