Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is on a mission to “defeat” Critical Race Theory, a study of racial bias in American laws that he claims is “taking our schools by storm.”
Though educators claim that CRT is not taught in K-12 schools, Cruz claims that the concepts have “infiltrated our education system” in a free, downloadable 10-page e-book that explores the origins of the college-level course and claims it is linked to Marxism.
“Together, I think we can defeat Critical Race Theory in our schools and make sure that students learn the true history of America—the story of American greatness,” Cruz writes in the e-book.
Based on Cruz’s August 9 lecture at the conservative Leadership Institute’s School Board Campaign Training, the e-book echoes complaints and talking points used by other conservatives to fuel controversy over the topic. In a CRT briefing book section on messaging titled “winning the language war,” for example, Christopher Rufo, the Manhattan Institute fellow who kicked off the political discussion about CRT on Fox News in 2020, encouraged conservatives to use the term “race-based Marxism.”
Anyone attempting to download the book must provide their email address and will be prompted to make a donation. “Please give today to help train more conservatives to stop Critical Race Theory in its tracks,” the request says.
Cruz’s e-book instructs conservatives on how to “spot CRT concepts” in K-12 curricula by searching for “buzzwords” such as “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” and “equity.”
He is concerned with “equity,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “fairness or justice in the way people are treated.” Cruz claims that CRT rejects equality in favor of “equity.”
“You see, to Critical Race theorists, in order to achieve equity, local and federal government policies must discriminate so that the same results are achieved by all races,” Cruz writes. “If policies don’t meet that standard, CRT considers them racist policies.”
According to a message that appears when you sign up to download the book, the e-book was part of an 11-hour program sponsored by the Leadership Institute in August to prepare conservatives to run for local school board seats “against the entrenched left.” It was promoted through a sponsored tweet Wednesday by the Washington Times.
Identify — and defeat — Critical Race Theory
Senator Ted Cruz teaches how to fight Critical Race Theory in this great eBook from @LeadershipInst.
— WashTimesOpinion (@WashTimesOpEd) December 15, 2021
He took part in the program at a time when school board races across the country were heated up over culture war issues in education, such as the teaching of race. Ballotpedia conducted a study that identified 272 school districts in 25 states where candidates expressed an opinion on critical race theory, the role of race in curricula or specific equity and diversity plans, Covid-19 responses, and sex education or the use of gender-specific facilities.
According to the study, the most frequently mentioned issue was “race in education/critical race theory,” which was mentioned in 248 races. Meanwhile, bills and laws restricting classroom discussion of race and gender have emerged in Republican-led states.
Cruz, a Harvard-educated lawyer and former Texas solicitor general, claims that CRT is based on a Marxist view of society as a struggle between oppressors and oppressed. “Critiques of capitalism and property have been threads in the CRT quilt since the very beginning,” he adds.
He connects CRT to the New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project,” a history of the United States that focuses on the consequences of slavery and Black Americans’ contributions to the country. The Pulitzer Center’s curriculum guides are being used in several school districts to teach the 1619 project.
Cruz also cites a document from the National Education Association, the country’s largest union representing both teachers and college faculty, in which they state that they “oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project,” that they support “honest teaching of social studies,” and that it is “appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks” that include CRT. The NEA did not respond immediately.
Cruz urged conservatives to fight, citing a case in Southlake, Texas, where he claimed conservative parents were abused “rallied together to defeat a ridiculous Critical Race Theory initiative that the local school district’s diversity committee” had proposed.
“The conservative parents were able to band together to fight this, and they got three times as many people to show up and vote in the school board elections than usually vote. And guess what—they won the school board elections about 70 to 30—a huge margin,” Cruz wrote. “That’s what happens when we have grassroots leaders like you pushing back against Critical Race Theory.”
Tanya Kater Hernández, a Fordham University School of Law professor who has taught CRT for 25 years, described the topic to Insider as an examination of legal jurisprudence that examines how advances in civil rights laws were undermined and, in many ways, led to disillusionment with a colorblind approach to dealing with racism. People believe “it’s part of an anti-whiteness mode of analysis or a racial hate platform,” she said, adding that that’s “completely untrue.”
However, Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute, says in an email accompanying the e-book that Cruz “helps conservatives understand the ugly truth” about CRT.
“Please share this e-book with other members of your family and community so they too can learn to spot Critical Race Theory concepts,” he writes. “As Senator Cruz makes clear, when conservatives stand up and act, we can defeat leftist indoctrination.”
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