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Indiana AG Todd Rokita leads multi-state effort to oppose critical race theory in schools

Indiana AG Todd Rokita leads multi-state effort to oppose critical race theory in schools


“There are a lot of exotic notions about what are the most important points in American history. I simply disagree with the notion…” Louisville Courier Journal

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is leading an effort by nearly two dozen attorneys general to encourage lawmakers in Washington to reconsider proposals they say impose the teaching of critical race theory.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Wednesday, 20 attorneys general claim proposed priorities for the department’s grant funding via the American History and Civics Education programs include language that impose the “deeply flawed and controversial teachings” of the theory on schools and teachers. 

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, proponents of critical race theory mostly agree that racism is a common experience among people of color in the U.S., that racism is institutional and that white people benefit from systemic racism. However, critics of the theory claim its teachings are anti-American or anti-white. 

What is critical race theory? What you need to know

“As such, it distorts, rather than illuminates, a proper and accurate understanding of our nation’s history and governmental institutions and, therefore, is fundamentally at odds with federal and state law,” the letter reads.

As such, these attorneys general ask the administration to reject the proposal or clarify that grants may not fund projects based on the theory, including those that “characterize the United States as irredeemably racist or founded on principles of racism (as opposed to principles of equality) or that purport to ascribe character traits, values, privileges, status, or beliefs, or that assign fault, blame, or bias, to a particular race or to an individual because of his or her race.”

IndyStar has reached out to the U.S. Department of Education for comment.

Critical race theory has caused a stir locally and nationally. In January, President Joe Biden rescinded his predecessor’s executive order that restricted the government and its contractors from using curriculum that examined issues like systemic racism, white privilege and other race and gender bias issues. 

More recently, in Hamilton County, parents at all four of the suburban districts – Carmel Clay, Hamilton Southeastern, Noblesville and Westfield Washington – are bringing up critical race theory. The theory is not currently taught in any of those school districts, but has angered parents, who have turned out for protests and hours-long public comment sessions as schools grapple with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Likewise, Rokita and his fellow attorneys general note in their letter to Cardona that although the U.S. Department of Education “does not overtly” reference the theory in its priorities, the department is prioritizing similar teachings by apparently showing support of the contents of the “1619 Project,” a journalistic initiative by the New York Times that reexamines American history by focusing on the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans. (The project’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, won a Pulitzer Prize for her work.)

“Congress made clear that the purpose of the programs is to advance a traditional understanding of American history, civics, and government,” the letter reads. “The proposed priorities would do little to advance that goal and, based on the proposal’s support for the ‘1619 Project,’ would endorse teaching factually deficient history. Moreover, the implementation of these priorities will, in practice, lead to racial and ethnic division and indeed more discrimination.”

The attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia also signed the letter.

IndyStar reporter MJ Slaby and Gannett Midwest Digital Optimization Team digital producer Dwight Adams contributed.

You can reach IndyStar reporter Holly Hays at Follow her on Twitter: @hollyvhays.

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Published at Wed, 19 May 2021 21:58:52 +0000