Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), who introduced the latest legislation, said that critical race theory “teaches our children hate.” “In other words, students being taught that they are defined by the color of their skin, not the content of their character,” he said in a news release.
The bill stands little chance of passage in the Democrat-controlled House.
Grothman’s legislation states that D.C. public schools cannot direct or compel teachers to promote the idea in classrooms that “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist” or that a person “bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
Republican-led legislatures in Arkansas, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma have passed similar legislation, with some restricting the teaching of critical race theory in public colleges in addition to lower-level classrooms.
But in the District — in a school system that is majority Black and a city that is overwhelmingly liberal — critical race theory has not been controversial.
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee has openly talked about the systemic racism that led to George Floyd’s killing by police in Minneapolis and has launched an anti-racist training program for educators. He has not been met with local political or parent pushback.
On Friday, Ferebee told reporters that the school system is auditing its curriculum to ensure it promotes equity and will continue having conversations in classrooms about systemic racism.
“We also recognize that there is still more work to do — especially in a time when we are seeing across the country an effort to minimize and eliminate discussions on systemic racism,” Ferebee said. “So we will continue to elevate this work through anti-racist principles and also in our policy review. We are looking at areas such as grading, discipline, attendance — whenever we see outcomes that are along the lines of racial disparities, we want to be at the forefront of rethinking and reimagining what is possible.”
The D.C. State Board of Education is in the middle of a multiyear process to update the city’s social studies standards so that they are, in part, “culturally inclusive and anti-racist” and “promote civic engagement.”
If passed, Grothman’s bill would also apply to charter schools, which educate nearly 50 percent of D.C. public school students and are publicly funded and independently operated. The majority of charter school students are Black.
Earlier this year, Grothman argued that D.C. should not be a state because it has little agriculture, manufacturing and natural resources. He also criticized D.C. students’ relatively low ranking when compared with states.
In response to Grothman’s bill, the D.C. Council’s official Twitter account — known for its snark and defense of D.C. statehood — tweeted that the District “teaches Critical *State* Theory.”
“We are deeply Critical of people elsewhere telling us how to educate our own children in our own soon-to-be State,” the tweet reads.