WASHINGTON — More than two dozen Republican attorneys general, including Arizona AG Mark Brnovich, are voicing their disapproval over the Department of Education’s proposed priorities for teaching K-12 students about American history and civics education because they would include references to systemic racism and how the history of slavery has shaped the U.S.
The state attorneys general argue in a May 19 letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona that public schools should not be given grant funds to teach about critical race theory, “including any projects 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.”
Critical race theory says that racism is systematic and embedded in policies and the legal system. Scholars who study the issue focus on understanding how racism has shaped U.S. laws and how those actions have affected Black communities and communities of color. The subject matter has become a touch-point for conservatives, who have decried instruction about the role racism played in the country’s founding and growth as indoctrination.
“Though the Department does not overtly refer to (Critical Race Theory) in its priorities, it is prioritizing teaching this highly controversial ideology through the vehicle of this grant program,” the AGs wrote. “This is hardly what Congress intended when it authorized this program.”
The attorneys general also warn against approving grants for teachings of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” from the New York Times Magazine. An effort earlier this year by a GOP state lawmaker to defund a Phoenix area school district for adopting the 1619 Project curriculum was rejected by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.
The Department of Education did not respond to requests for comment.
The attorneys general who signed the letter include Mark Brnovich of Arizona, Christopher Carr of Georgia, Lawrence Wasden of Idaho, Derek Schmidt of Kansas, Jeff Landry of Louisiana, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, Austin Knudsen of Montana and David Yost of Ohio, among others.
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