Republican senator wants critical race theory out of Michigan schools

It’s unclear whether critical race theory is taught in Michigan’s K-12 schools. - Shutterstock
It’s unclear whether critical race theory is taught in Michigan’s K-12 schools.

Michigan Sen. Lana Theis introduced legislation on Thursday that would prevent K-12 schools from teaching so-called critical race theory, a decades-old academic concept that examines systemic racism.

The bill also would block educators from teaching about the “1619 Project,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times project that reexamines American history by exploring the enduring consequences of slavery.

Nearly a dozen other states have introduced similar Republican-backed bills, which share nearly identical language.

Critical race theory has gained momentum nationwide as Black Lives Matter protesters, academics, and activists inspire Americans to confront race relations and the ongoing impact of slavery, Jim Crow laws, police brutality, and the disproportionate criminalization of Black people. The core idea is that racism is entrenched in America’s history and shapes laws and policies that continue to impact the lives of Black people.

The discipline, however, has caused backlash from Republicans, who insist critical race theory is anti-white.

“Critical race theory is an invention of the extremist political left that has manipulated academia for decades and is now targeting private businesses, public institutions and, sadly, our K-12 classrooms, where it is indoctrinating young minds with anti-American falsehoods,” Theis, R-Brighton, said in a statement. “Its ‘woke’ proponents reject our country’s true history and our founding principles, in favor of an identity-based cultural Marxist ideology that seeks nothing more than victimization, envy, division, discrimination, and ultimately the destruction of our country and way of life. This radical world view has no place in public education and my bill will make sure it never will.”

It’s unclear whether critical race theory is taught in Michigan’s K-12 schools.

The legislation comes a year after former President Donald Trump issued two executive orders that called for "patriotic" education and a ban on diversity training and critical race theory for federal workers.

"Critical race theory, the '1619 Project,' and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison, that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together, will destroy our country," Trump said at the time.

President Joe Biden revoked the executive orders and proposed a grant program to fund curriculum about racial bias and the lessons from the "1619 Project." Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell opposes the grants and called them “divisive nonsense” in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

The National Council for the Social Studies criticized the Republican bills, saying they seek to “silence social studies curriculum that explicitly addresses the centrality of slavery in the historical narrative of the United States.”

The council also said the "1619 Project" enables teachers to “accurately depict the history of slavery in the United States, broaden the horizons of their students, and prepare citizens for a just democratic society."

“Slavery is hard history that must be actively addressed in social studies classrooms,” the council said. “Aversion to slavery in the social studies curriculum only serves to miseducate students who will carry the mantle of being citizens in our democratic society. Recognizing the origins, evolution, and legacy of slavery is vital to understanding how racial inequality and oppression currently operate in our society. Without this knowledge, it will be impossible for students to make informed and reasoned decisions and engage in deliberations that advance the common good.”

Nikole Hanna-Jones, whose work on the "1619 Project" earned her a Pulitzer Prize, was denied tenure at the University of North Carolina following backlash from conservatives.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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