CRT in schools endorsed by four U.S. mayors, including Chicago’s

September 9, 2021 • 11:15 am

Reader Luana sent me this tweet from conservative Christopher Rufo, and, as usual, citing conservative media to liberal readers on my site, I have to make sure that what’s reported is real. Well, it is; you can find this statement on the U.S. Conference of Mayor website. The statement is signed by the mayors of Louisville, Kentucky; Boise, Idaho; Portland, Oregon, and Chicago, Illinois: a strange melange of mayors, though Portland doesn’t surprise me. Neither does our own mayor, Lori Lightfoot, who is black and gay, and getting woker all the time. I’ve enlarged the statement below so you can see what the mayors are endorsing:

Enlarged. I’ll give my take below

This statement surprised me with its vehemence: it could have been written by a bunch of disaffected students at any woke school, though its “demands” apply to public school education.

The first half of the statement characterizes Critical Race Theory the way many people understand it these days. Although these look like statements of fact, most of them are contestable. That includes the first claim that race is not biologically real and “is not connected to biological reality.” Well, the conception of distinct races that are very different genetically, having individually diagnostic genetic traits as markers, with everyone belonging to one race or another, is not true, but as I explained in an earlier post, if the concept of racial groups or ethnic groups was purely a social construction, we would not find this:

As I said, there are groups within groups. Even within Europe, as a paper by Novembre et al. reported, using half a million DNA sites, that to place 50% of individuals could be place within 310 km of their reported origin and 90% within 700 km of their origin. And that’s just within Europe (read the paper for more details). Again, this reflects a history of limited movement of Europeans between generations.  Finally, in terms of “self identification”,  Tang et al., using just 326 markers, performed a genetic cluster analysis and identified four groups that matched nearly perfectly with the “racial” self-identification of people given four choices (white, African-American, East Asian, and Hispanic). Here’s what they found:

Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity. On the other hand, we detected only modest genetic differentiation between different current geographic locales within each race/ethnicity group. Thus, ancient geographic ancestry, which is highly correlated with self-identified race/ ethnicity—as opposed to current residence—is the major determinant of genetic structure in the U.S. population.

That is, there is almost perfect correspondence between what “race” (or ethnic group) Americans consider themselves to be and the identification of groups using observed genetic differences. Because these are Americans, and move around more, the genetics reflect ancestry more closely than geography, though in Europe geographic origin is also important.

The fact that you can predict the self-identification of 99.86% of Americans as to one of four “major” racial groups from just 326 genetic markers shows that the four racial groups named above do have a biological reality in their genetic differentiation. They are not simply “social constructs”.

As far as the other tenets are concerned, I would take issue with the claim that system racism is both ubiquitous and embedded within the legal system (where?), and that basically everybody is a racist. Of course there’s still racism—nobody denies that. But its pervasiveness is a matter of argument, not an assertion of fact.

The idea that it the idea of meritocracy is racist, as is the idea that people should be colorblind (Dr. King, you’re a racist!), are arguable, and I would argue strenuously that we cannot jettison a meritocracy so that all racial groups can have equal achievement. It is not meritocracy that propagates inequality, but the holding back of groups by history and culture.

Finally, in tenet #4 you see the common claim that “lived experiences” should trump data, denigrated here as “deficit-informed research”.  Storytelling, while it has its uses, is no substitute for sociology. And storytelling is not a solution, but a weak form of data.

(I’ll mention in passing that Jews are omitted form the list of the oppressed, though on a per capita basis they suffer more from hate crimes than any of the other groups named.)

The document then addresses the achievement gap between races (which, remember, are social constructs), but that gap does need to be addressed. The inequality of ethnic and economic groups in America is embarrassing and intolerable. To reduce it, the mayors propose a change in curriculum to make it more inclusive, which is fine, but then the group decries a “deficit-oriented instruction that characterizes students of color in need of remediation.” But didn’t they just imply that by saying that there are racial inequities and education gaps?

I have no opinion on dress codes; as far as I’m concerned, students can wear what they want so long as they aren’t naked and any mottos on their clothing don’t violate the First amendment.  And yes, #5 and #6, about inequality in school funding and quality, are an important part of narrowing the education gap—you know, the one that the mayors say isn’t real.

Finally, at the end, the five mayor resolve that CRT be implemented in the public education curriculum, as well as devising “access to equitable programs that reflect history, decrease achievement gaps, and better ensure that BIPOC students receive resources to ensure their success upon the completion of their primary education.”  But these two solutions are not at all the same thing. The implementation of CRT as outlined in the statement is divisive and will marinate the students’ education in racial conflict. The second, reducing inequality of opportunity, is an admirable program.

Sometimes I get the feeling that people like these mayors want race to be the center of all education in schools, so that every subject in public classrooms, including math and physics, must be infused with CRT-informed lessons. I don’t have to tell you that such a program would not bode well for the “success” of students of any race.

52 thoughts on “CRT in schools endorsed by four U.S. mayors, including Chicago’s

  1. If you wanted to reduce “claims of meritocracy” to its logical absurdity, everyone could do absolutely nothing, and then the outcomes would all be the same.

    L

    1. Yep…that’s one way to “decrease achievement gaps.” Let’s just not hold anyone to any standard at all and see how that turns out–it’s a lot easier than investing in communities and creating jobs with living wages.

      1. Literally what they’ve done in Oregon! You can graduate high school with no proficiency in mathematics and linguistic arts.

        1. This is not true. While lamentable*, what the Oregon Govmint actually did was eliminate standardized proficiency tests as a requirement for graduation. Students must still take the required courses and get passing grades to graduate.

          * and deceptive – no WAY it’s “temporary”.

    2. But how would you police this? What about those scoundrels who sneak around trying to study calculus or Greek behind our backs?

  2. Slightly off-topic but I know it will interest Jerry, as it’s his alma mater. An acquaintance of mine is considering an online master’s degree at W&M. As part of her application, they gave her an ‘equity advancing’ question. Can’t remember from talking with her about it if it was “how have you used your experience in the past to promote equity” or more like “how do you plan on using the degree you’re applying for to promote equity”, but the wokeness has reached the ‘Burg!

  3. The KC public school superintendent recently bragged about the district having taught CRT for years, then pointed to the African-Centered schools in the district as proof of what a great job they’ve done. Checking the data, which he didn’t share, I see that the AC Prep high school has a graduation rate of 68%, test scores. If I recall correctly were 17% of students scoring proficient in reading at grade level and a whopping 5% scoring proficient in math. The AC Prep elementary was slightly higher in both but nowhere near, or indeed even half that of the state average. What exactly is there to be proud of?

  4. Hmmm, the ‘whereas [lots of stuff] therefore be it resolved [action]’ language of the statement could signal symbolic support rather than any practical support. I’ll believe they really intend to promulgate CRT when they allocate city budget to it.

    Do they even have much say? I thought most school curricula were state-wide. A mayor doesn’t get to do squat about state-wide mandated curricula standards except implement them.

    1. Sorry i am late to the game today. Sheeesh! Usually the statewide requirements are minimum curriculum content…prescriptive not prohibitive. Local school districts can add unique content to the extent they can fit it in their time constraints. The statewide testing only looks at the state requirements. For example in Fairfax VA a few years ago, the science supervisor added some locally required physics content in thermodynamics because she found the state standards lacking in this area. Fairfax students were tested on the additional content locally but not on their statewide end of course exams. Plus much of what is in the resolution is procedural or process which state content does not touch. Finally it will be interesting to see how postmodernist science is taught…no more labs, no more books, only teachers’ dirty looks!

  5. Why do the hard work of actually improving intercity schools, when you can make hollow pronouncements about CRT?

  6. As Rufo tells us, grade school educators can no longer answer the CRT question with an incredulous “Of course we don’t teach CRT. Ha ha, that’s so silly! CRT was something that was invented in law schools decades ago. We’re just teaching US history a little more honestly than before.” It seemed like a lie to those of us that are following CRT but it clearly took in the liberal media or they were in on the ruse all along. Now that it is out in the open, perhaps we’ll see a huge backlash. It will be “Defund the Police” once again.

    1. CRT was something that was invented in law schools decades ago.

      Close. There was a field called “Critical Legal Studies” (or “The Crits” as the law professors who originally promoted it were known) that came into vogue back around my law-school days. CRT (and “Queer Theory” and “Gender Studies” or others of that ilk) constitutes an offshoot of sorts of Critical Legal Studies.

      1. I agree counsellor, what they taught in the 1970s (as far as I can tell, I went to law school 1998-2002) was QUITE different to the “studies and theories” stuff popular from the 1990s on.
        D.A., J.D.
        NYC

        ps I agree with everything PCC(E) says above, particularly the “storytelling” crap. Anecdotal experience shouldn’t be at the center of real, evidence based scholarship. I cringe when I hear “lived experience” (and remember… I’m a lefty)
        There are bits in the law pertaining to the war on drugs which are pretty racist, but given the entire war is a cruel, counter-productive horror inflicted on ALL Americans, the question is larger than that part.

  7. My investigations of Critical Baltic Theory have led me to devise the “1226 Project”, and I welcome participants in promoting this project.

    In 1226, Emperor Frederick II conferred on the Teutonic Knight order an imperial privilege for the conquest and possession of Prussia (later called East Prussia) in the Baltic region . The Knights subsequently conquered the region and annihilated the pagan Baltic tribes living there: the Old Prussians, Galindians, Curonians, and Yotvingians. It is evident that the extermination of the old Baltic tribes exceeds in severity even the microaggressions that so trouble American campuses today.

    This genocidal conquest of the Baltic region underlies the later dominance of the German state of Prussia, and therefore the powerful economic position of Germany in Europe and the world economy today. Europe is closely tied to the economic dynamism of Germany. And many people outside of Europe benefit from this economic order, including Americans, African-Americans (some of whom work for the Volkswagen Group of America) and possibly even Canadian First Nations members, if their economic situation has anything to do with the world economy, or Deutsche Bank.

    It follows that everybody is complicit in the annihilation of the Baltic tribes in the 13th century, and is afflicted by systemic anti-Baltness. We propose to revise all school historical curricula to take notice of this form of non-Balt Supremacy, and all its consequences.

  8. I’m confused. If we’re not supposed to characterize students of color as in need of remediation (“X is failing trigonometry and would benefit from a tutoring program”) AND we’re not supposed to confirm narratives of the ineducability of students of color (“X would not benefit from a math tutoring program because X is a student of color”) then what, specifically, is being recommended?

    It’s all very well to say “Dismantle the System” but in the meantime X is failing trig and that’s just not very useful.

    1. I believe the specific recommendation is to employ ‘alternate methods of evaluation’ because the notion is that X may not be bad at trig, they may just be bad at tests or in a traditional school setting.

      The ‘glass half full’ interpretation is that we really do this. I.e. Instead of X getting a sheet of paper and 10 minutes to solve a problem, you have X come up to the board and walk the class through the problem that doesn’t stress them like a test does, and maybe X aces all the trig problems that way.

      The ‘glass half empty’ interpretation is that this is an excuse to avoid standard metrics of mastery, and what they want teachers to do is more like: grant X a passing grade in trigonometry for their presentation on the use of trigonometry in gardening…even if they don’t actually do any trigonometry.

      1. The first makes sense; the second does no favors to the student, the school, or race relations in general, I think. I have a feeling both alternatives in “alternative methods of evaluation” will be employed. I’m not sure if the differing results will be evaluated with the same methods.

      2. “The ‘glass half full’ interpretation is that we really do this. I.e. Instead of X getting a sheet of paper and 10 minutes to solve a problem, you have X come up to the board and walk the class through the problem that doesn’t stress them like a test does, and maybe X aces all the trig problems that way.”

        I remember as a high school junior in Biology II making a presentation in front of my peers. If creating my presentation on paper was stressful – as with X being stressed by a trig calculation on paper – also presenting it in front of the class would be – and was – even more stressful. I was so incredibly relieved when that ordeal was over. (But it was an ordeal only because I did not have a full appreciation for what constituted sufficient preparation. As I heard in the navy, “Prior Proper Planning [and Preparation and Practice, I would add] Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.” I.e., not a little dedicated study and work.

        For his classmates to understand his explanation, it seems X would have to write on the board what he would write on a piece of paper. Would X have 10 minutes, or longer, to make the presentation? I myself would want to have written it on paper prior to the presentation, and to have practiced my presentation.

        1. I agree with you, but then I’m an introvert. My kid’s pretty extroverted – he’d often much rather ‘perform’ for people than sit alone and work. It energizes him.

          There’s an argument to be made for wanting to know how kids will perform under mild adversity or under consistent conditions. But if you don’t care about that and just want to see the best poem they can write or see if they can do the math equation when they’re not stressed or distracted, a little leeway in the evaluation environment seems fine to me.

    2. … but in the meantime X is failing trig …

      So either abolish trig (it’s quite clearly racist, since X is failing it), or replace the assessment with a request to make a rap video about trig, or just have no assessment.

      1. Perhaps it’s easier to just ban trig because it was popularised by the slave-owning (oops, enslaved people-owning) Greeks – then again, Pythagoras was a committed vegetarian, so perhaps not?

  9. One good thing? Well, students, and so teachers, will refuse to study this nonsense and constantly critique the “knowledge” the syllabuses contain, to the point where this crap will disappear from the classroom.
    See also non-racist science and mathematics, which, like language lessons, will remain supremely important.
    Why waste your time learning this pseudo-religious drivel when calculus needs parsing?

    1. It would be nice to solve the entire school system’s problems, and I’ll certainly go to the relevant board meetings and voice my objections if I see abandonment of good standards. However no, I’m not issuing any proclamations and probably won’t sign any such ridiculous-sounding thing either. Practical concerns mean my activism time is limited, and I will quickly default back to using my prosperity to ensure my kid gets a solid education despite whatever bad standards the school board implements. They can take the trig test out of trig class; I’ll just download a grade standard test and ensure he can master it myself. And we’ll be back to the bad old days of poor kids not being able to get a quality public education.

  10. Well it will benefit some people…those who attend private schools that tend conservative. As they will end up running the country due to actually being trained in how to do stuff.
    The skin colour mix of those students I wouldn’t care to comment on:)

    1. Is it racist to ask about the background of the staff member who made the mistake? (For the record, I’m assuming nothing – after all, Robin DiAngelo is more extreme on this and related issues than many of the black people she patronisingly seeks to serve.)

  11. It used to be that new interventions administered through the public schools needed some level of prior testing and validation, as part of their accountability to the parents and taxpayers who fund the schools. Where are the pilot studies for CRT? What were the results? How is the teaching of CRT to be evaluated for its efficacy, and what plans are there in case it turns out to not be effective, or to be downright harmful?

    As John Whorton argues, CRT is a religion, not a philosophy. I would actually prefer the word “cult”. It has the main characteristics of every pseudo science I’ve encountered (including Freudian psychodynamics and religious apologetics), starting with having an explanation that is militantly used to answer all questions, including why some people don’t believe the explanation — “they’re racist” being the answer in the case of CRT– and rejecting any attempts to question or validate the explanation.

    We are watching the abolition of education in our time. I can understand why many parents are just pulling their children out of school. If education is hereafter to be mainly about CRT -with a little math and science permitted if absolutely necessary- I see no point. I would pull my children out too.

  12. Racism exists. We all know that, and I’m very highly confident that everyone here at WEIT abhors it. The paragraph

    [Whereas the basic tenets of CRT are as follows:] 3. Recognition of popular misunderstandings about racism, including claims about meritocracy, colorblindness, and arguments that confine racism to a few bad apples, in recognition that the systemic nature of racism, which is codified in law, embedded in structures, and woven into public policy, bears primary responsibility for reproducing racial inequality

    is beyond belief.

    As our host notes, where exactly in the US is the “systemic nature of racism [ …] codified in law, embedded in structures, and woven into public policy”? And if it is, exactly how will this mayoral resolution to indoctrinate kids in K-12 change anything when CRT is inarguably embedded with an equally racist perception of its own?

  13. I have to continue to flag the systemic racism in the NFL, where 69% of the players are African American (they are only 13% of the US population). There is a [dramatic] disparity, therefore there is systemic racism, QED.

  14. I live in Boise so I was really surprised to see McLean’s name on the resolution. According to an article in the local paper, she has disavowed the resolution, saying that she never endorsed it but that a staffer mistakenly added her name.

  15. Yes! Asian-Americans are mentioned in one ‘whereas’ as having been impacted by experiences of racism, but then they magically disappear from consideration for remediation. Asian success is an awkward embarrassment for CRT’s monomaniacal etiology.

    EDIT: this should have a reply to Coel @14.

      1. Which is a feeble and dishonest attempt to ignore this inconvenient success story. The claim is that Asian success is overblown, because not all Asians are academic stars. But of course it is impossible to deny that Asians on average outperform other racial groups academically…it would be like denying the gap in wealth favoring whites over blacks because there are some poor whites and rich blacks.

        So, CRT advocates still must explain how a non-white minority has come to be highly successful in academics, despite the racism against them. The closest they come is to an actual explanation is the claim that Asians immigrants have high SES to begin with and therefore their success is just a result of that wealth. But this is quite easily refuted by noting that high achieving Asian students are often from families of very modest means.

        So the next move is to label Asians as “white adjacent”, effectively counting them as white and sidestepping the whole issue. It also hypocritically denies the existence of anti-Asian racism…hence making it easier to enact racial quotas against Asians in higher Ed.

        One would think that Asian success would be a cause for celebration among liberals, as it shows that racism is not as big a barrier as it was in the past, and that the successes of one group can be studied and perhaps used to help other groups.

        Yet, among the Woke, the good news threatens the narrative, and therefore this heresy must be snuffed out. This to me is one of the most dangerous aspects of Wokism today, as it shows that these rather dim people are not really interested in concrete solutions to helping underperforming groups.

        1. Comparing Asians to Blacks on racism is just silly. Sure, they both suffer from racism. However, one came from a country where they were enslaved and the other didn’t. Makes all the difference in the world.

  16. the claim that system racism is both [assertion deleted which is not found in the mayors’ statement] and embedded within the legal system (where?)

    Exhibit A: Opium was associated, at least in popular American conception around the turn of the 20th century, with Asian immigrants. Marijuana was thought to be favored by Mexican- and Black Americans. Alcohol, which kills far more people worldwide than either of those, was firmly established among European-Americans. Which of these mind-altering substances is perfectly legal today?

    Exhibit B: The recent Michigan “emergency manager” law was applied, as the ACLU noted, to Pontiac, Flint, Benton Harbor, River Rouge, Highland Park, and of course Detroit, disproportionately impacting the political rights of Michiganders with darker skin colors. These are not the only cities financially distressed lately, nor were they at the time. An “emergency manager” in Flint made the decision to switch water sources without adequate precautions to prevent corrosion of lead pipes, leading to the Flint water crisis.

  17. WHEREAS We have the power, and we don’t care if our ideas are logically incoherent and incontrovertibly, scientifically false.

  18. Which theories were rejected in this decision making process, leaving only “Critical Race Theory” as the only theory that could fit the observations?

    I assume there are a number of compelling theories which can explain some aspects of human conflict throughout the history of H. sapiens and before, so I apologize for asking this ignorant question.

  19. Saying the obvious:

    Teach the historical facts, nothing but the facts. Expose previous lies which have been commonly taught. Do that thoroughly. Leave it at that, except teaching in general the very important ability to ferret out what is true and what is not, and particularly to expose the lies and motivations and evils of the liars. Expect the students here and in other important matters to try until a reasonable knowledge is obtained before they get credit.

    e.g. every 10 year old USian should be thoroughly familiar with the facts of the Tulsa massacre.

    Surely no one here would disagree.

    But stay away from speculative general and often entirely example-free garbage which does seem originate frequently in the soft and squishy departments of modern North American. universities.

    Sorry to harp on almost the tautological.

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