Teaching race in the classroom: Republicans, Democrats disagree

When it comes to Americans’ perception of what schools should teach about racial history and progress toward racial equality, the results of the recent American Family Survey reflect a deeply polarized nation.

While the majority of Republicans and Democrats agree that schools should be taught about racial progress, the results reveal deep divisions about the history of racism.

Among Democrats, nearly 8 in 10 nonwhites and 9 in 10 whites agree that school curricula should teach the nation’s troubled racial history. Among Republicans, 4 out of 10 nonwhites and one-third of whites, 35%, share that opinion, according to the most recent American Family Survey results. The results of the survey were released Tuesday in Washington, DC and by Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Election and Democracy.

Now in its seventh year, the American Family Survey looks at how families live and perceive current events. This year’s 3,000 adult YouGov survey was conducted from June 25 to July 8, before Kovid’s delta transformation became widespread and before the start of the school year. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

The results of the survey show Republicans want to tell a positive story of racial progress, while Democrats see the need to deal directly with the nation’s racist history. The biggest partisan gap is between white Democrats and white Republicans.

After the assassination of George Floyd at the hands of the police, elected officials and academics nationwide are counting and fighting racism.

Floyd, a black man, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for Floyd’s murder. A video watched around the world caught Floyd in his dying breath as he took Chuvin’s knee for 9 1/2 minutes.

These events led to great outrage against racial injustice in generations.

Many state Legislatures and school boards have responded by passing legislation And rules that explicitly prohibit teaching critical race theory in K-12 public school.

Critical race theory, according American Bar Association, Identifies “that race is not biologically real but socially constructed and socially significant.”

The theory is that “racism is a common feature of society and embedded in systems and institutions, such as the legal system that repeats racial inequality. According to the ABA, it rejects the notion that racist events are idioms but expressions of structural and systemic racism.

Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, emphasized the need for truth and honesty about America’s legacy of racism.

“We can teach about terrorism, bondage and forced rehabilitation of slavery. We can have honest discussions about today’s injustices and threats to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Pringle recently wrote that our students should learn about the times when this country fulfilled its promise and when it was not, what they need from us. Selection on USA Today.

According to this Brookings InstitutionEight states enacted anti-critical race theory: Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona and South Carolina. Only Idaho law explicitly uses the terms “critical race theory.”

State school boards in Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma have introduced new guidelines for excluding critical race theory-related discussions or instructions. Local school boards in Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia have criticized critical race theory.

According to Brookings, 20 other states have enacted or plan to introduce similar legislation.

The Utah Legislature passed unrestricted resolutions that urged the Utah State Board of Education to clarify what can and cannot be taught in Utah schools under administrative law. Conclusions have been expressed that certain concepts of critical race theory “degrade core social values ​​and, if introduced in the classroom, harm students’ learning in the public education system.”

Utah’s state school board has approved the rule of law, but the debate continues on its application as a general guide and a framework to guide equality, diversity and inclusion.


Recent statements to the Utah State School Board have nationally reflected in the American Family Survey.

Juliet Reynolds, a Utah mother of four adult children, said she dived deeper into learning about queer culture after one of her children came to her. She was immersed in reading the history of black people, Indigenous people and other people of color.

“I was often overwhelmed by racism because I couldn’t believe that racial oppression was deeply embedded in our society. At the age of 40, I couldn’t believe that this was the first time I was hearing about most of these things. When I was younger, it was dropped from my history books. There is no room for dissent in this room, ”Reynolds told the state school board at a recent meeting.

Another speaker, Kelly Strebel, said students’ constitutional rights are being destroyed every day by teaching in school.

“Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter, Common Core, Social Emotional Learning, 1619 Plan (Via The New York Times), the second point is the issue under the term American Marxism. All of these should now be called Level Three and burn and destroy the damage they cause and cause in our schools, ”Strebel said.

If two adult speakers represent different perspectives, the American Family Survey strongly suggests that younger Americans strongly support the history of racism. Of the people aged 18-29 who surveyed, more than 70% strongly or somewhat agree that history should be taught.

Over the course of the race, 75% of blacks surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that schools should be taught about the history of racism, compared to only 60% of Hispanics and only 60% of whites.

Of the respondents who are college graduates, approximately 7 out of 10 teach a history of racism in more than half of those with a high school education or less.

Of the four census nationalities – Northeast, Midwest, South and West – the highest percentage was in the West, with the majority in the South disagreeing.

The survey found that the majority of all demographic groups agree that schools should be taught that there is considerable progress toward racial equality in the United States when there is a low level of agreement to teach about the history of racism.

Who’s right?

Martell Teasley, dean of the University of Utah’s School of Social Work, said this should not be a proposition because students need a broad understanding of the nation’s history in relation to race, racism, and progress.

“There shouldn’t be a binary. We have to do everything. Part of the whole idea of ​​American exceptionalism, as you know, is winning these things,” Teasley said.

He continued, “We have to look at our history. Racism, as well as gender challenges, are part of American history. In telling that story, there is a wonderful story that people advocate for change. So we have to study the past to understand where we are going in the future.

Teasley said Oklahoma faculty with a doctorate degree knew nothing about the Tulsa genocide until recently. From May 31 to June 1, 1921, a white mob attacked residents, homes, and businesses in the lush Greenwood neighborhood, predominantly black.

Many Americans were unaware of these events 100th Anniversary of the Riot This year.

“This incident is one of the worst incidents of racial violence in US history, and, for a time, very little is known: Though hundreds of people have been killed and thousands homeless, news reports have largely shrunk,” history.com.

Teasley said some people may get angry without knowing one’s history. “So people are being harmed by not explaining history,” he said.

Teasley did not tell it to one of their children that they had different biological parents in their family than others. “Instead of telling them about it a little later in their lives as a child, think about this harm to them, when they accept these things,” he said.

“When we don’t tell people their history, we trash it and, therefore, we shy away from making it a fabulous country,” Teasley said.

Critical race theory

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, explicitly opposed teaching critical race theory in public schools.

He and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Have introduced legislation that, if approved, will ensure that schools do not need to teach critical race theory if they receive federal educational funding.

“The critical race theory undermines our founding principles, institutions, social mobility and history – and schools should not be forced to teach it.” In Lee’s statement

“This bill, along with the receipt of federal funds, ensures that states and local educators are not required.”

The bill would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Primary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and none of those statutes require the use, teaching, promotion or recommendation of any academic discipline, program or activity that is anti-American or racist.

Earlier this year, in an opinion piece, Lee said that critical race theory is an attack on what Americans mean.

The critical race theory is that the United States is essentially a racist country and that American features such as constitution, property rights, color blindness and equal protection under the law are traces of white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalist oppression. , Makes the race the prism of looking at American life, ”he wrote.

“But this view is wrong. The problem is not American principles; the problem is rejecting them.”

Democratic State Senator Kathleen Reebe of Utah is a public school teacher. He voted against a restraining motion that Republican leaders urged the Utah State Board of Education to ban “racist” critical race doctrine concepts. At the Utah House of Representatives, Democrats walked out of the hall in protest before voting in an extraordinary session of the state legislature.

Reeb said some partisan differences in school teaching about race, reflected in the results of the American Family Survey, have contributed to Democrats’ belief in a “big tent.”

“When you have a big tent, you believe, ‘I don’t sympathize with what happened to other people,’ but the Republicans said, ‘Pull yourself out of your bootstraps,'” Reeb said.

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