Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center takes a closer look at the decision to introduce Critical Race Theory in Washington’s public schools
This opinion piece was produced and first published by the Washington Policy Center. It is published here with the permission of and full attribution to the Washington Policy Center.
Washington Policy Center
Earlier this year Governor Inslee signed four bills that require teachers and other public employees in Washington’s public schools, public colleges and universities, and medical schools to attend training sessions in controversial Critical Race Theory. The bills are SB 5044, SB 5194, SB 5227, and SB 5228.
Sponsors say these bills are supposed to increase “diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism.” Actually, however, these bills promote harmful discriminatory concepts and re-introduce the idea of segregation in public education. Here’s how.
Critical Race Theory teaches people that their individuality is not based on their intrinsic worth as human persons, but as members of a group based on their perceived outward appearance.
Critical Race Theory teaches that if people are identified as white, Jewish or Asian, they are oppressors. If they are seen as black, Hispanic or part of another group, they are oppressed.
Critical Race Theory falsely teaches that American is a racist country, that something called “institutional racism” is rampant, and that most people are guilty of an “implicit racism” that nobody can see. It also shuts down honest dialog by accusing anyone who disagrees as being “fragile” and refusing to admit one’s own invisible, in-born racialist attitudes. In a rhetorical trick familiar in the old Soviet Union and at the Salem witch trials, denying one’s guilt is taken as proof of one’s guilt.
To sum up, these trainings seek to “otherize” targeted people based on appearance, a clear violation not only of core civil rights protections but of the essential idea of fairness.
The illiberal and intolerant ideology required by these bills will promote a hostile work environment in public institutions and allow the use of perceived racial identities to target and harass disfavored employees. This backward-looking policy will only serve to perpetuate historic injustices and further divide us from one another.
The mandates these bills impose violate the Washington Civil Rights Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the equal protections guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. These bills require government educational entities to deny the fair and equal treatment that all people deserve regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or national origin.
Prominent scholar and civil rights activist Robert Woodson says employing this racial lens is having a devastating effect on low-income people of all races. Other civil rights leaders like professors John McWhorter and Glenn Loury say that these trainings dehumanize and belittle children. The Chinese American Citizens Alliance in New York says Critical Race Theory is “today’s Chinese Exclusion Act” and that supporting it represents a “hate crime against Asians.”
To oppose this ideology, many prominent black, white, Jewish and Asian leaders have formed the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR). They point to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of nearly 60 years ago, when he dreamed of a day when all persons are judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.
Parents Defending Education, a national grassroots organization, has also formed to help parents oppose this ideology in the schools. Local groups are springing up all over the country to inform the public, and elect school board members and state representatives committed to banning Critical Race Theory and similar racialist practices from our public education institutions.
Word is spreading about what Critical Race Theory really is. Rejecting this false ideology takes real courage and to do so is far from any concept of “fragility.” Quite the contrary. Refusing to submit to Critical Race Theory represents toughness and integrity, in defense of our founding principle of “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Liv Finne is the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.