Once again, should teaching CRT be banned? Richard Hanania says it won’t work, but offers another solution that liberals won’t like

July 14, 2021 • 10:30 am

About a week ago, I posted a piece about Critical Race Theory (CRT) called “Should teaching CRT be banned?” As you know, and will see below, legislatures, all of them Republican, are in process of banning what they see as critical tenets of CRT.

My own view was that it shouldn’t be banned as I was wary about government mandating what should or should not be taught in schools. (Creationism and its variant of intelligent design are exceptions; the courts have interpreted both as forms of religion, and teaching them in public schools is thus violates the First Amendment.)  In saying that teaching CRT shouldn’t be banned but that teaching it, at least in its divisive form, was still bad, I agreed with Andrew Sullivan. There were, I thought, legal recourses against the most divisive aspects of CRT—the bits that set races against each other.  Lawsuits, I thought, could eliminate that kind of pedagogy.

I’ve had to rethink all this after I read the new article below by Richard Hanania on his Substack site (click on screenshot). In particular, I didn’t realize that governments have a perfect right to dictate what and what cannot be taught (so long as it doesn’t violate the Constitution), that they do this all the time, that mandating what can be taught also tells you what cannot be taught, and, adds Hanania, it doesn’t matter anyway because teachers, who are mostly liberals, will manage to teach what they want regardless of the law.

I can’t find much about Hanania’s politics. He seems to be a conservative but it’s not obvious, and at any rate it doesn’t matter when we’re weighing his arguments:

First Hanania presents a map showing where anti-CRT-teaching bills have been passed or are in the legislature (some states apparently are labeled for bills “with other discussions about racism”):

Then he makes his points, which I’ve characterized in bold (Hanania’s quotes are indented; mine are flush left):

Legislatures have a right to tell schools what and what not to teach, and they do it constantly:

Legislators tell schools what to teach and not to teach all the time. It’s sort of a basic function of government. Illinois just mandated “Asian American History” and California requires teaching of “LGBT History,” cementing the idea that American history should be understood through the lens of groups of people defined by their sexual preferences or racial characteristics (or, in the case of “Asian American History,” a made-up census category). As of 2019, California mandated “LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed,” which includes teaching kids about newly discovered genders and sexual identities. A Vox article tells the story.

Andrew Sullivan and I are thus confused in saying that CRT shouldn’t be banned but is still wrong to teach.

Some, like Andrew Sullivan, take the position that CRT is a pernicious and false doctrine, but that legislators should nonetheless do nothing about it. I’m struck by the discrepancy between his discussion of what’s being taught and his ultimate recommendations. Here’s how Sullivan describes CRT, implying that it is psychologically damaging to children and even potentially abusive.

The goal of education of children this young is to cement the notion at the most formative age that America is at its core an oppressive racist system uniquely designed to exploit, harm, abuse, and even kill the non-white. This can be conveyed in easy terms, by training kids to see themselves first and foremost as racial avatars, and by inculcating in them a sense of their destiny as members of the oppressed or oppressor classes in the zero-sum struggle for power that is American society in 2021.

Liberals want to teach Critical Race Theory because they think it is true, while others want to ban teaching it because they think it’s false. I can understand both positions. In contrast, the position “this is all pernicious lies but nobody should do anything about it” is puzzling to me.

Okay, I’ll accept that. Decisions by legislatures or school boards about whether to teach CRT should be made on the basis of whether it’s imparting facts that are right or wrong. But there’s the rub, for classic academic CRT is not what’s being taught in these schools, but interpretations of CRT filtered through the likes of Ibram Kendi and Robin Di Angelo. Anything racially divisive I see as wrong, but to call attention to the odious history of bigotry in our country should surely be done. Both are parts of “garden variety” school CRT.

Mandating teaching a subject or viewpoint explicitly prohibits teaching the other viewpoint. 

Notice that by mandating one thing, you ban another. A classroom that is required to teach gender is fluid and homosexuality should be accepted is banning traditional sexual morality. One that teaches that every major racial census category has its own history decides which groups are singled out for official identities (“Hispanic” and “AAPI,” but not “Jewish” or “Italian”), and denigrates the idea that American history should be taught from a more unified perspective.

The idea that government schools teach some things, but not others, and that a government school curriculum is set by government, has never been controversial. It’s only causing such debate now because instead of Democrats mandating that you teach identity politics and gender fluidity, it’s Republicans wanting to teach their own ideas.

Now maybe you think Critical Race Theory is true. In which case, you should oppose these bans. If you think it’s a false and harmful doctrine, then banning it is pretty much the job of government.

But of course this all depends on what aspect of CRT is being taught, and you’ll never know unless someone monitors the classroom.

Lawsuits aren’t a solution. As Hanania notes:

This highlights what is so strange about David French and other writers arguing that if CRT discriminates against whites, that’s already illegal under the Civil Rights Act, and people can just sue. As I have pointed out, the Civil Rights Act has been interpreted to not only allow anti-white discrimination, but actually mandate it in the form of affirmative action. As it turns out, people interested in enforcing civil rights law think discrimination against blacks is a major problem society has to constantly be on guard against, while discrimination against whites isn’t really a thing.

And of course to stop CRT teaching with lawsuits is a piecemeal effort, state by state, that may ultimately wind up in the Supreme Court; and you know what that means.

But it doesn’t matter, for what does matter is who is teaching the kids. And who is teaching the kids are, of course liberals who will impart aspects of CRT to students if they can. Although secondary-school teachers aren’t as liberal as college professors, they definitely lean Left:

A 2017 survey of school teachers and education bureaucrats showed that they voted for Hillary over Trump, 50% to 29%. That’s actually not as lopsided as I would have guessed, but there’s evidence that Democratic teachers are more committed to politics than Republican teachers, just as liberals care more about politics more generally. In 2020, educators who donated money to a presidential campaign were six times more likely to support Biden than Trump. So while Democrats may have “only” a 21-point lead in voting preferences among educators, when it comes to those who care more about politics, it’s more like an 85%-15% advantage. And teachers are probably conservative compared to the kinds of people who write textbooks, design curriculums, and work in education departments.

With those kinds of numbers, there’s really nothing conservatives can do to make the schools friendlier to their ideas and values. A CRT ban might mean a teacher won’t say “Ok, kids, today we’re going to learn about Critical Race Theory!,” but they’ll still teach variations of the same ideas.

The solution? Send your kid to private schools, or homeschool them, as such schooling is either generally more conservative or, at home, you can teach your kids what you want. It’s this solution that makes me think that Hanania is a conservative. He notes, though that private school enrollment has dropped in grades 1-8 and 9-12, as it’s expensive, but homeschooling has nearly doubled in the last two decades:

On the conservatism of private schools:

That being said, are private schools really any less liberal than public schools? Maybe not at the most elite level, as Bari Weiss has shown. Yet every indication is that private schools are in general more conservative. According to a 2015 study, “of the 5.8 million students enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools, 36 percent were enrolled in Catholic schools, 13 percent were enrolled in conservative Christian schools, 10 percent were enrolled in affiliated religious schools, 16 percent were enrolled in unaffiliated religious schools, and 24 percent were enrolled in nonsectarian schools.” Combining Catholic and “conservative Christian” schools, this indicates that at least half of private schools teach a sexual morality that would be illegal if promoted by a public educator, at least in California and other blue states.

In the end, Hanania’s solution, if you’re worried about CRT being taught more widely, is to put private schools on a more equal footing with public ones, perhaps using school vouchers to avoid the expense. That, of course, is not a solution I recommend, as I’m a big fan of public schools. And his solution is sure to sicken other liberals. But at least, says Hanania, it is a kind of solution, and nobody has offered any thing else that’s likely to stem the teaching of CRT. Hanania ends this way:

“Banning Critical Race Theory” sounds like a new, vigorous, and exciting idea, while “more school choice” seems like the same old conservative spiel.

But those who hope to change the public schools have no plan to make an overwhelmingly left-wing, and increasingly radicalized, profession reflect their preferences and values.

Trust me, I like finding new and original ideas to promote, and hate to come out for such a conventional and boring suggestion like “more school choice,” although I at least take comfort in the fact that I took an unconventional path to get to that conclusion. Nonetheless, please try not to judge the idea based on how edgy it sounds, but based on a clear understanding of how the world actually works.

My solution? Oppose the teaching on the grounds that much of it is false and it also has a pernicious effect on schoolchildren


54 thoughts on “Once again, should teaching CRT be banned? Richard Hanania says it won’t work, but offers another solution that liberals won’t like

  1. An easier solution would be to let proponents of, say, Critical Sex theory, Critical Gender Identity Theory, Critical Class Theory, Critical Religious Discrimination Theory, Critical Creed Theory sue for inclusion in required classroom instruction. Dilute the conversation until the idea of just one Critical Theory being taught is recognized as itself being discriminatory.

  2. Can anyone here cite an example in US history when the banning of a subject from public schools by legislative fiat has had a salubrious effect on the commonweal?

    I can think of at least two examples where it’s had the opposite effect — evolution and sex education.

    1. Religion?

      It’s also worth noting that most of the bills don’t ban a *subject*, they ban the “compelled speech” aspects of CRT, whereby pupils are required to agree with and participate in particular ideologies.

      1. I know of no legislation in the United States that has banned the teaching of religion. Indeed, the opposite has generally been the case — legislatures attempt to smuggle religion into the public-school classroom (in the form of school prayer or bible study or teaching creationism or ID or “both sides” or “the controversy”), and courts strike those laws down as violations of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. That, my man, is an entirely different kettle of marine creatures.

        If, however, you can point me to an instance of a US legislative body — which function as blunt instruments for setting school curricula — banning religion from public schools by statute, I will happily revise my opinion.

      1. Looked it up and from what I read it seems I was wrong, this was largely decided via the courts and not by an explicit law in the US.

      2. Any law which banned intelligent design from schools would, of course, make Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True” illegal in school, as well as many of Richard Dawkins’s books since they obviously include the concept that they are critiquing. It may be the case that these books are illegal in schools but I am not aware that they are.

    2. Can anyone here cite an example in US history when the banning of a subject from public schools by legislative fiat has had a salubrious effect on the commonweal?

      There have been many things that were banned but simply because everyone knew they should not be taught, such as “Dishonesty is the best policy.” Here we have something that some people support. Who makes the decision as to whether it is taught? Suppose there were a school that wanted to modify (or had modified) the curriculum as follows:

      • Teachers have decided have decided that instruction should Stop Using Academic Language and Standard English as the Accepted Communicative Norm, which Reflects White Mainstream English.

      Fifth graders are taught the desirability of the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the “collective village” that takes care of each other.

      • The school teaches in middle and high school that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism.”

      • The school, in a less for grades 7-8, has a lesson titled: “Think About It George Washington: The Beginnings of 273 Years of Hypocrisy in America” (see lesson 7).

      Then suppose a parent believes that these represent improper education and doesn’t want his child instructed this way? How should he proceed? He could start by complaining to the teacher and make his way up from there through the school board to the state legislature. How far should he go? Is it proper for the state legislature to mandate that public school students shall not be taught that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism” or should that be left up to the school board?

      1. The inquiry I posed was simply whether there has ever been an instance in US history in which a subject was banned from public schools by legislation to a good purpose. In response, you do not address that inquiry, but instead pose a series of fanciful hypotheticals.

        Am I to accept that as your concession that you know of no such instance having occurred in US history to date?

        1. In response, you do not address that inquiry, but instead pose a series of fanciful hypotheticals.

          If you click on the links you will see that each one is taken from an actual course (except for the first one which was an actual demand made by some educators.

          Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you are implying that the banning of a subject from public schools by legislative fiat is a bad thing, and that this is demonstrated by nobody being able to cite an instance in which it has had a salubrious effect on the commonweal. Is it your position that prohibiting by legislation the indicated educational practices would not have a salubrious effect on the commonweal?

        2. And actually, yes. Texas just passed legislation containing the following, to a good purpose:

          (4) a teacher, administrator, or other employee of a state agency, school district, or open-enrollment charter school may not:

          (A) be required to engage in training, orientation, or therapy that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or sex;
          (B) require or make part of a course the concept that:

          (i) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
          (ii) an individual, by virtue of the individual ’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
          (iii) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual ’s race;
          (iv) members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex;
          (v) an individual ’s moral character, standing, or worth is necessarily determined by the individual ’s race or sex;
          (vi) an individual, by virtue of the individual ’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
          (vii) an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race or sex;
          (viii) meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race;

          1. Sounds good but is that all there is? I am still against legislating this sort of thing but am interested to see if the experiment works. That’s supposed to be one of the advantages of the US being a republic: states can experiment with laws. I am surprised that the GOP haven’t used that as an excuse for their voter suppression laws. “Don’t worry. It’s just an experiment.”

            1. It was signed by the governor on 6/15/21 and takes effect on 9/1/21. The final text is here.

              I still can’t figure out how people could be against this. They must look at the list and be able to imagine a circumstance in which a certain item might be justified. Some people seem to get lost in being appalled by the notion of trying to “ban ideas”! But we’re not banning ideas. We’re controlling the ability of schools to teach political positions (some of which we believe are pernicious) to school children as fact. Their classrooms are not a public forum.

              1. Well no, it actually bans any use of the concept itself. That means not only banning teaching it as a fact, it means banning teaching that it is false, or teaching that we need to examine the evidence for such a concept.

                So, technically, if a school were to study this law then the
                school would be breaking the very law they were studying (since the law includes the concept it is banning).

                So, yes, it is very much banning ideas.

              2. I notice also that this law would essentially ban any course that discussed racism at all, since in order to discuss racism you have to introduce the concept of racism but under this law you may not introduce the concept that:

                “(i)one race or sex is inherently superior
                to another race or sex”

              3. I can see nothing in this law which would in any way prevent any school from having a course which taught CRT or even a course which presented the claims of CRT as fact.

              4. Well no, it actually bans any use of the concept itself.

                You think that “require or make part of a course the concept that” prohibits any discussion of the concept. Suppose, however, that courts interpret that, as I think they will, to ban teaching it as fact. Would you have any remaining objections?

              1. Interesting that the thing this law does clearly *not* ban is CRT

                What teaching would it ban if it were banning CRT?

          2. Your answer simply assumes that which was to be proved. I inquired whether any legislative enactment banning a subject from public schools had ever proved worthy in praxis. The statute you cite hasn’t even taken effect yet.

            And, excuse me, but I haven’t much confidence in the good ol’ Texas Lege. It’s never been a bastion of ratiocination. Why, just this term, the same legislature that passed the statute above also passed this nation’s worst anti-abortion law (which is saying something, given the rash of bad abortion laws recently passed in other red states). The Texas law not only bans abortions after six weeks — before most women even know they’re pregnant — but also establishes a “bounty system,” whereby any Billy Don or Joe Bob bubba can bring a private cause of action (the usual rules regarding “standing” be damned) against anyone who assists a woman in any way in obtaining a prohibited abortion, all in hopes of turning a quick buck.

            The Texas lege has always seen its primary mission as merely to create a “healthy bidness” climate — and to play to the so-called “owner’s box” in the chamber’s gallery, where the lobbyists sit watching their minions sing for their supper. The Texas lege is spending its precious special-session time right now tilting at the windmills of social-media censorship and voter suppression, even though the state, by its own assertion, just conducted its most secure election ever. (Gone are the days, it seems, of LBJ’s infamous “Ballot Box 13” in the Rio Grande valley.) And all the while it’s doing fuck-all to resolve the problems with its atrocious electrical grid, which continues its black-outs apace, after having killed a hundred and fifty and left four million powerless during last winter’s storm.

            Too, the state of Texas hardly has a noble tradition in the domain of public education. It’s been infamous for decades now for its ideologically driven right-wing textbooks — from excluding the teaching of evolution in science to extirpating Hellen Keller from social studies.

            Anyway, my original point here, in case you missed it, was that legislation has generally proved far too blunt an instrument by which to set school curricula. Banning subjects from public schools by legislative fiat is the route of the authoritarian.

            1. In short, we don’t trust that the TX legislature’s heart is in the right place. Still, it might be interesting to see how the experiment goes, as long as your child isn’t one of the involuntary subjects.

  3. This is an excellent article by Aaron Sibarium, a very young and sharp writer for the Washington Free Beacon. “How Critical Race Theory Led to Kendi”

    #Why did CRT become so influential? Perhaps because it left class largely out of the picture. CRT came onto the scene just as the Reagan revolution was beginning; by the time the discipline had fully established itself, Bill Clinton’s Democrats were singing the virtues of free trade. Civil rights maximalism, aimed at closing the gaps between blacks and whites, did not threaten the basics of that economic order. Full-throated Marxism, aimed at closing the gaps between rich and poor, would have.”


    1. DD is correct and very sharp in his/her thinking. Economic inequality, the obscene accumulation of wealth by a tiny fraction of the populace, poverty, homelessness and unequal access to education and health care are (in addition to climate change and biodiversity loss) the REAL crises of our country. And CRT enables authoritarian ideologues and doctrinaires to ignore them completely in favor of brainwashing and intimidation, neither of which
      are ever successful or have anything to do with rectifying economic inequality. As for teaching bigotry, that is a huge mistake; we need to teach the CONSEQUENCES of bigotry, of acts and legislation that penalize specific groups. Leave moral preaching to parents and religious leaders. And face up to the fact that humans are imperfect and their bad behavior and lack of scruples can never be erased…..just kept out of the public arena and government. SJW and BLM and the acquiescent liberals have been distracted from the execrations and injustices of capitalism, the economic system that does far more real damage to society and the planet than the distasteful utterances of those tarnished as “racists”.

  4. Two points:

    A.) Affirmative action is illegal per Bakke, but considering “diversity” is not illegal, and thus you can obtain the same result you get from from racial quotas as long as race is only a factor. I suspect that this may get re-examination with the current Supreme Court, which is “conservative” but remember that the Federalist types are usually pro-corporation, and it is very clear that the big corporations and big universities want to continue doing what they are doing.

    B.) It is illegal to create a racially or sexually hostile working environment, and there are some appeals court opinions protecting whites and even white heterosexual males. Much of these CRT trainings are not about sharing viewpoints but Maoist struggle sessions where people confess their white supremacy and are publicly humiliated, and, of course, in both white supremacy and witchcraft, denying you are a white supremacist or a witch is proof that you are a white supremacist/witch. Even when they are not, they are just assemblies of offensive racial stereotypes which you could never say in public about any other group in American society, and which will match hostile working environment cases in those other contexts. Plus, I can’t think of a better or faster way for the stealth privatization of public education than CRT.

    Institutions are setting themselves up for lawsuits, and while the Cultural Revolution was a different context, it is worth noting that most of the current leadership of China were victims or children of the victims of the Cultural Revolution, and most of the Red Guards ended up in prison. There are worse things than being purged (as long as they don’t kill you) as purges generally give rise to counter-purges.

    There is, and there will remain, a fundamental contradiction in American Civil Rights laws:

    i.) Civil Rights are about equal individual rights possessed by citizens, thus are color blind, and critiques of segregation were couched as ending second class citizenship. Obviously, if citizens are treated equally then we would expect there to be natural inequality between individuals and probably groups as well.

    ii.) Racial equality is about equalizing groups, which generally can only happen by discriminating or privileging one group of people over another, and violating people’s individual rights.

    People talk about “Equal Opportunity” but that is completely wooly. The Civil Rights crowd interprets it to mean race-neutral laws and policies. The Racial Equality crowd interprets it to mean equality of outcome. Racial Equality people talk about “Civil Rights” but push policies that contradict “civil rights”, and the “Civil Rights” people talk about “Racial Equality” but push policies that don’t actually promote racial equality (now that segregation is a relic).

    Now we enter that phase of dialectical struggle called “heightening the contradiction,” and I suspect a lot of this is being used to keep the ongoing class war out of public view.

    1. Yes, technically speaking, Hanania is wrong that the civil rights acts mandate affirmative action. Bakke, and some other cases on hiring preferences (Adarand, Ricci vs. DeStefano), make that clear enough. However, in terms of practical effects, disparate impacts on certain minority groups tend to create a rebuttable presumption that the group in question is being discriminated against, which in most cases results in the employer (or school) seeking to address the disparate impact by giving extra weight to minority candidates in the name of diversity considerations in the hopes of avoiding litigation. In other words, the practical effect is that affirmative action programs are a key initiative to have in order to avoid a disparate impact suit. The technical elements differ between university/school admissions and employment opportunities (“diversity” is accepted as a particularly compelling interest in the university setting, allowing a little more leeway to admissions offices that wouldn’t fly in the hiring setting), but in practice they’re mostly the same. And “disparate impact on whites/males/majority groups” is just not accepted legally, unless it’s something where the neutral criterion is an extremely blatant cover to discriminate (think a zip code residency requirement for hiring, where the racial makeup of the neighborhoods in question are 90%+ minority, and residency has no relation for the job at hand).

      So at an abstract/theoretical/formal level, Hanania’s wrong, but at the facts-on-the-ground level, his claim is mostly correct.

  5. I think that the banning of CRT is the wrong path, because then you get into arguments about what CRT is, and whether what’s being taught is CRT (as we are already seeing). I think we should ban teaching that one race is superior/inferior, or that one sex/gender is, or one socio-economic class is. I have no problem with class-room discussion of CRT, although I don’t think it’s age-appropriate for grade-schoolers. But, like Creationism, there’s a difference between a compare/contrast of opposing viewpoints, and teaching it as fact.

    1. The proposed legislation typically prohibits teaching certain propositions as truth, such as:

      • One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
      • An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
      • An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
      • An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.
      • An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
      • Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.

  6. The idea of using private schools to provide decentralization and competition in elementary education isn’t prima facie bad. In a “funds follow the student” model, parents could choose whether or not to support the CRT curriculum more easily than through constant electoral and legal battles within the school system. Given the overall poor quality of CRT positions, I suspect this would eliminate it faster than any of the alternatives.

    The problem is, as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.” That, along with the First Amendment, clearly prohibits using taxpayer money to fund religious schools. It also can be argued to apply to issues like CRT itself, of course.

    The winner-take-all control of public school curricula is a problem. Decentralizing is not an obviously inferior approach.

  7. The critical issue, I would say, is not so much whether or not CRT is taught to third grade children, but rather whether the clichés of pop-CRT guides the priorities of teachers and even the definition of education. The latter trends are underlined by a resolution at the National Education Association annual meeting mandating a study that “critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society.” Jason Riley (of the Manhattan Institute), writing in the WSJ about this NEA meeting, notes that “there was no proposal vowing to improve math and reading test scores”.
    In this connection, Riley’s article observed the following: “A majority of American fourth- and eighth-graders can’t read or do math at grade level, according to the Education Department. And that assessment is from 2019, before the learning losses from pandemic school closures. Whenever someone asks me about critical race theory, that statistic comes to mind. What’s the priority, teaching math and reading, or turning elementary schools into social-justice boot camps?”

    Incidentally, the presence of “anthropocentrism” in the NEA’s list of iniquities to be “critiqued” is a bit
    of a surprise. It might just mean that woke activists in the NEA include a vegan contingent, but maybe it is a real straw in the wind. Could it be that meat-eating will soon join cisheteropatriarchy among the woke’s catalogue of seven deadly sins? Can we look forward to a new book by Robin DiAngelo condemning meat-eater privilege and meat-eater fragility?

      1. FFS. After decades of working with animal rescue organizations, must say I am speechless on this one.

  8. Notice that by mandating one thing, you ban another.

    Hanania is just flat wrong on this assertion. See, for example, statutes that have been passed requiring that both evolutionary theory and intelligent design be given time in science classrooms, or that require schools to “teach the controversy.”

    Plus, it’s no simple matter to determine what “the opposite” of a mandated subject is, such that its teaching would be considered banned. A law mandating that schools designate February as “Black History Month,” for example, hardly precludes those same schools from teaching other types of history during that month as well.

    1. Hanania is just flat wrong on this assertion.

      Here’s the example he gave:

      A classroom that is required to teach gender is fluid and homosexuality should be accepted is banning traditional sexual morality.

      Likewise, if you mandate that it shall be taught that no individual, solely by virtue of his or her race, is inherently racist you ban teaching that an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race, could be inherently racist.

      If a school is required to teach ‘X’, then the school is prohibited from teaching ‘not X’.

      1. “Teaching X” does not imply “Teaching X is true”. A teacher can teach the Pythagorean Theorem without teaching that it is true. Indeed a good teacher would probably be hoping for someone to try denying it or even to notice the cases in which it is not true.

        1. “Teaching X” does not imply “Teaching X is true”

          ‘X’ stands for whatever is being taught including whether it is true or false. If you mandate teaching ‘X’ you ban teaching ‘not X’ as long as contradictory teaching is being banned.

        2. A teacher can teach the Pythagorean Theorem without teaching that it is true.

          If you mandate teaching the Pythagorean Theorem you ban teaching that the same thing is not the Pythagorean Theorem. If you teach that it is true under certain circumstances you exclude teaching that it is false under those same circumstances.

  9. As a UK citizen, I don’t claim to understand the nuances of US legislation. But in publicly funded educational settings, isn’t it possible to allow CRT lessons to go ahead provided that no transgressions of federal laws, such as racial segregation, discrimination etc., take place and that any transgressions that do occur are punished appropriately? (If such federal laws exist – perhaps I’m being naïve?)

    1. First, the violation of state laws is also to be avoided. But what CRT opponents are saying is that (a) much of CRT seems to intrinsically violate existing federal laws (cases are making their way through the courts), and (b) to the extent it doesn’t, the legislature (typically the state legislature since education is primarily a state matter) should pass laws specifically banning it.

      No doubt there are portions of a CRT curriculum that would not be objectionable to anybody. But it appears to be the parts objected to that the proponents see as the core teaching.

  10. and, adds Hanania, it doesn’t matter anyway because teachers, who are mostly liberals, will manage to teach what they want regardless of the law.

    If the school mandates that a certain workbook be used then the teacher opens him- or herself up to potential disciplinary action by contradicting or repudiating it in class. At the very least the ideas are communicated to the students and given official endorsement even if the teacher subversively signals his or her disagreement. Furthermore, there are probably many teachers who are not on-board with CRT and would love to have it prohibited so that they don’t have to teach it.

    1. As a teacher standing before a class rquired to spout a school system-imposed CRT-inspired scripted lesson plan, I would find it hard to to refrain from periodically prefacing CRT claims with, “The school curriculum states . . . .”

  11. Extrapolating on the ideas of David Deutsch CRT being easy to vary makes it susceptible to failure.
    The question then is how long will it take before it collapses in on itself or through persistent criticism it settles or perhaps morphs into a more useful coherent theory…

  12. Are US “home-schooled” pupils subject to the same examination systems as “school-schooled” pupils?
    (I assume that things like university entry and government employment have some system for approximating foreign exam results to USian exam results in a more-or-less accurate way.)

  13. Does it really have a pernicious effect on children to discuss whether or not systemic racism still exists? I don’t see how.

    Maybe the pernicious effect is in the classroom exercises reported from a handful of schools. But then the way physical education is often taught has a pernicious effect on students, so should we ban physical education?

    As for it being untrue, well those who claim that there is no longer any systemic racism in their country need to evidence this claim.

    1. “Does it really have a pernicious effect on children to discuss whether or not systemic racism still exists?”

      No, but that’s not really how grade school works. Even adults have a hard time considering such questions with sufficient detachment. In grade school, it would undoubtedly be mostly the teacher telling the students how the system is inherently racist.

  14. The Atlantic had an excellent article on the proposed law in North Carolina. It discourages but does not prohibit teaching certain concepts. To wit:
    Teaching that:

    “One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
    An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
    An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
    An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.
    An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
    Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.
    That the belief that the United States is a meritocracy is an inherently racist or sexist belief, or that the United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex.

    Under the proposed law, schools are explicitly allowed to explain those seven concepts or to assign materials that incorporate them “for educational purposes in contexts that make clear the public school unit does not sponsor, approve, or endorse such concepts.” Educators are prohibited only from teaching any of the concepts “in a manner that could reasonably give rise to the appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement.” (Though the law’s text mentions race and sex in parallel, the debate about it has focused on how schools handle the former.)”


  15. John H. McWhorter:

    “What worries me is that it’s not race that is being taught in schools, but an idea that racism is everything and that battling power differentials must be the focus of all of our moral, intellectual and artistic endeavors.”

    The problem with teaching “CRT” is that the promoters of this are not (as they claim) just teaching about the USA’s racist history as McWhorter points out in his Munk debate with the intellectually dishonest Wokoharam spokesmodel, Gloria Ladson-Billings who asserts:

    “The fight about critical race theory is not an academic one, it’s a political one. And when politicians cannot win points on policy, they resort to inciting a culture war.”

    In fact, what is being taught as CRT is that race defines who everyone is, and all members of each race share a set of immutable virtues and vices. Everyone is essentially defined by their racial identity. Not only is that absurd on its face, it is racist and promotes racism.

    Of course the racist GOP politicians in Trump-addled states will jump on this to ban the teaching of the real history of racist atrocities which tarnish the USA’s noble aspiration to being the castle on the hill of freedom and opportunity for all.

  16. If CRT is relevant, the basic tenets should be taught, as well as the objections against it. It is bad that things like racism are so politicised. As long as that is the case, the real issues surrounding racism will not be addressed. Sadly, it not easy to solve, not even with the best of intentions, because this is also about cultural differences (hence different expectations about right and wrong) and human nature (we are xenophobic creatures). So in a politicised environment, progress remains impossible.

  17. This can be generalized to the question: should we teach non-scientific theories on school? I don’t think so; these unscientific theories don’t need to be learned because they come natural to us.

    Humans automatically fill the space between two facts with a conspiracy theory. Ironically this last sentence contains also a conspiracy theory.

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