What Is Critical Race Theory In Education?

CRT is an academic framework that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s as a way of looking at legal and social structures in the United States.

It focuses on racial bias and inequality in the law and institutions rather than on individual attitudes.

As a result, it has come under fire from conservative lawmakers and commentators, who see it as promoting an anti-white, anti-American worldview that centers the nation’s story on racial conflict.

What is CRT?

Critical race theory (CRT) in education examines how policies and practices in the United States contribute to persistent racial inequities in K-12 education. It also advocates for ways to rectify those inequities and to reduce racial inequality at the academic, employment, and legal levels.

CRT is not new; it originated in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a framework for legal analysis created by a group of progressive legal scholars led by Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado. Its basic tenets are rooted in postmodernist thought, which generally rejects the idea of universal values, objective knowledge, individual merit, Enlightenment rationalism, and liberalism.

CRT is a hot-button issue in schools, as conservative politicians and parents have attempted to ban diversity trainings that discuss systemic racism or sexism. Its opponents have argued that such discussion will "discriminate," hurt feelings, or make someone feel guilty about their skin color.

What is CRT Theory?

Critical Race Theory, also known as CRT, is a theoretical framework that recognizes that systemic racism persists in American society. It’s embedded in laws, policies and institutions that uphold and reproduce racial inequalities.

This theoretical approach, developed in legal studies, is now being used to study how and why educational inequalities persist. It also applies to other areas of life such as employment, healthcare, housing and the criminal justice system.

According to CRT, societal issues like Black Americans’ higher mortality rate, outsized exposure to police violence, the school-to-prison pipeline and denial of affordable housing are not anomalies but rather part of a much wider system that perpetuates racial inequalities.

Over the past year, state legislatures and school districts around the country have introduced or proposed legislation banning the teaching of critical race theory in schools. The underlying concern is that students will be exposed to ideas that they don’t understand, especially white students.

What is CRT Pedagogy?

CRT pedagogy is a framework that elucidates how racism is perpetuated, plus, proposes solutions to address these social justice problems. It is based on a set of principles that guide a variety of teaching techniques, pedagogical strategies and instructional practices (Rizzoli, 2012).

The first principle states that race is a social construct that is derived from societal definitions, which are constructed to justify and maintain social hierarchies, group-based exploitation and disparate levels of rights, access and privileges. It is a concept that evolves according to the needs of a society, and its definitions shift with time.

The second principle argues that racism is embedded in systems and institutions that replicate racial inequality -- codified in law, woven into structures, and embraced by public policy. The third premise holds that racial categories are created at different points in history to serve various purposes and are shaped by political, economic and social forces. The fourth tenet highlights voice and experiential knowledge from people of color as authoritative sources of direct evidence and theory generation.

What is CRT Curriculum?

Critical race theory, or CRT, is a framework that studies how laws and institutions perpetuate racism in the United States. It’s an academic concept taught in law schools and has gained prominence as a political issue in recent years.

In education, CRT is often used to describe a broad range of teaching strategies that aim to affirm students’ ethnic and racial backgrounds. However, many critics have misunderstood and misused the term.

The controversy is fueled by conservatives, who see CRT as an effort to rewrite American history and convince white people that they are inherently racist. Some state legislatures have passed legislation banning the teaching of CRT.

A number of public school districts are also incorporating CRT-related ideas into their curriculums, including those focused on social justice and diversity. But these efforts should not be mistaken for ethnic studies, which is a method of teaching about the histories, cultures and contributions of underrepresented groups. These teaching approaches can be a valuable tool for teachers to build respect and understanding among diverse populations.

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