Banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory and its tenets in public schools may not be as easy as passing a law. Idaho was the first of nine states to pass an anti-CRT law, and so far this new school year, some parents don’t see any change.

“In any way that they can get it in there, they get it in there, by using words like equity, teaching about white supremacy,” said Kristen Young, a parent in the Nampa School District who formed a local chapter of Power to Parents.

Idaho’s law does not explicitly ban teachers from bringing up Critical Race Theory, privilege, systemic racism, or white supremacy. It just says students can’t be compelled to personally affirm some of the tenets of CRT. One clear example, the law makes it illegal for teachers to force students to do an exercise in which they have to identify their level of privilege based on their race, gender or religion.

For the National School Boards Association, CRT is a non-issue. According to the NSBA’s spokesperson Jason Amos, “Critical Race Theory is not taught in K-12 public schools. Any time spent discussing Critical Race Theory—a discussion better suited for law school or graduate school—is time taken away from the real issues that are truly critical for the education of our nation’s students.”

The president of the Idaho State Board of Education also denies there is a problem. “To date, I have not seen any evidence of indoctrination in our public education system.,” said Kurt Liebich.

But Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin says despite the new anti-CRT law, division between the races is still being sewn in the classroom. “People are waking up to what has been happening for some time already in our institutions of higher learning for sure and looking at evidence of it in our K-12 schools,” said McGeachin.

McGeachin recently headed an Education Task Force to examine Critical Race Theory in education. Among those who testified was Kayla Dunn, a Black woman who called CRT the modern-day Jim Crow. “For me as a woman of color, what CRT means to me is I’m inferior, that I’m academically inept, that I’m incapable of speaking for myself, and that when someone sees me they automatically see my skin color,” said Dunn.

Boise State University did instruct faculty and staff about the new law. A memo repeatedly defended academic freedom but did reiterate instructors should focus on teaching students “how” to think, not “what” to think. Also, the annual ‘Tunnel of Oppression’ event, which in past years has focused on things like white terrorism, has not been scheduled this year.

For Chris Rufo, a leading CRT critic who has uncovered numerous examples of Critical Race Theory in education and the corporate world, progress is being made with the new laws. “Schools, and especially teachers are being much more careful,” said Rufo of the Manhattan Institute, “They’re restricting some of the more egregious lessons because they know it’s now illegal.”

Rufo says parents are much more aware of the issue and are trying to hold educators accountable.

But Kathryn Jones, founder of the African American Chamber of Commerce in Idaho, says the anti-CRT law is having a chilling effect. She says students are being encouraged to record teachers to get them in trouble. All for an issue she thinks has been blown out of proportion. “It’s [CRT] just a lens to look at history. It’s not indoctrinating a kid to believe one thing or another,” Jones said. “It’s giving proper context to what historical events have occurred, and what is continuing to occur.”

Several states are also looking at banning Critical Race Theory in the classroom. But the next fight over the issue is likely to be in the courtroom. Four lawsuits have been filed against school districts which allegedly use aspects of CRT. Also, the American Civil Liberties Union is reportedly looking into possibly suing one of the nine states that have outlawed teaching CRT calling the laws unconstitutional.

[Read More…]