Why Americans are so divided over teaching critical race theory | PBS NewsHour

Critical race theory, or CRT — often a graduate-level framework examining how the legacy of slavery and segregation in America is embedded in its legal systems and policies — has become the source of a political flashpoint across the country. The debate over its potential role in school curricula has roiled school districts and state legislatures nationwide. Amna Nawaz reports.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s past and present by looking at the role of systemic racism, what we have just been discussing.

    But the very term itself, critical race theory, has become a political flash point across the country, especially when it comes to how to teach young people about justice and equity in America.

    As Amna Nawaz reports for our Race Matters series, the debate over its potential role in school curricula has set off a firestorm that has roiled school districts and state legislatures nationwide.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Next year, Jamison Maddox will be a senior here in Loudoun County, Virginia. His favorite subject is history, even though he felt Black history was lacking.

  • Jamison Maddox, Student:

    I think there could be some things that happened in history that should have been taught.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    In school, do you — did you learn about the Tulsa massacre?

  • Jamison Maddox:

    No.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Did you learn about Juneteenth?

  • Jamison Maddox:

    No.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Do you feel like those are things that should be taught as part of your formal education?

  • Jamison Maddox:

    Yes, definitely, definitely.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Jamison’s mother, Vanessa, agrees.

  • Vanessa Maddox, Parent:

    This is American history. All of it should be taught in certain contexts and also age-appropriate.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Maddox, who works as a job recruiter, and her husband, raised both their sons in this affluent Northern Virginia suburb over the last two decades.

    Last year, as the national racial reckoning resonated here, Vanessa joined a Facebook group pushing what they see as anti-racism efforts in school.

  • Vanessa Maddox:

    When I saw the anti-racist parent group, I’m like, OK, I got to be in that.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    What spurred you to join that group in the first place? What has that been like?

  • Vanessa Maddox:

    There is a definite need for a group like this. I like to be surrounded by like-minded, fair-minded, equitable people. You don’t have to think like me. You don’t have to be like me, but you do have to be anti-racist.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Not everyone in Loudoun County sees it that way.

  • Ian Prior, Parent:

    There were parents that were just sick of it. They were just sick of constantly being told, if you don’t agree with me, then you’re a racist.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Ian Prior’s two daughters are in elementary school here. He’s a former Trump administration Justice Department spokesman now leading a group called Fight For Schools, a political action committee pushing back on equity and inclusion measures.

  • Ian Prior:

    We’re not about not teaching history. We’re about teaching history in an objective way that is not represented as America is systemically racist.

     

Source: Why Americans are so divided over teaching critical race theory | PBS NewsHour