March 22, 2022

"Do you teach Critical Race Theory in K-12?"

Ali Michael

“Do you teach Critical Race Theory in K-12?”  This question is as ridiculous as asking whether we teach Torts in K-12.  No one has classes on Torts until they get to law school.  Most of us who never went to law school have no idea what Torts are…not unlike Critical Race Theory.  

But the fundamentals of Tort law, which are about respecting other people’s property, fixing it when you break it, and not taking what isn’t yours… those are absolutely taught in K-12.  

Similarly, if we are doing our jobs as educators, you can find some of the fundamentals of CRT in our classrooms:

  • the idea that race is part of our identities even though it’s a socially constructed concept
  • a historically accurate and developmentally appropriate accounting of the racialized history of the US
  • the idea that White people have a race too

Just like the book All I Ever Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten, we teach fundamentals of how to be fair, kind, informed, empathetic, and community-oriented as soon as kids come to school.  In our multiracial communities, that includes helping children be racially conscious, to stand against the forces (like racism) that seek to to teach us that we are fundamentally separate from one another, to build community, to listen to one another's experiences, to find common cause.  That is how the fundamentals of critical race theory show up in kindergarten even though the only time I ever had the chance to study CRT was in my last year of my doctoral program.  

If you are wondering where all the questions about CRT are coming from, I highly recommend the new report out of UCLA on the anti-CRT movement, which researchers are calling The Conflict Campaign.  The report illustrates how the anti-CRT movement emerged as an explicit political strategy to sow conflict in local communities.  To quote the report:Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon indicated on his “War Room” podcast in May 2021 that “the path to save the nation is very simple, it’s going to go through the school boards.” PEN America noted that “Bannon was even more explicit in a June interview about the political benefits of the campaign against critical race theory, saying “I look at this and say, ‘Hey, this is how we are going to win.’ I see 50 [House] seats in 2022. Keep this up.” If you are interested in brainstorming how to resist the Conflict Campaign locally and nationally, please join me Monday nights at 7p for open brainstorming sessions.  

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Here are other resources supporting the need to continue to rise above the chaos that is being created around us and among us:

Red, Wine, and Blue—a non-partisan organization of suburban women working against book banning with, perhaps, my favorite tagline of all times: “…because it shouldn’t be up to TikTok to education our children about race”

CNN Article summarizing the Conflict Campaign report by Mica Pollock et al at UCLA

Atlanta Journal Constitution article on how students want to talk about race

Parents and teens form Banned Book Club

Missouri designs an Equity Playbook for community members seeking ways to confront the conflict campaign locally

The majority of parents want teens to talk about slavery

Lake Oswego School District passes an Anti-Racism Board Resolution

The National Education Association Supports Honesty in Education

More Readings


I fell for it

Ali Michael, PhD