A Republican congressman from Wisconsin has introduced a bill that would ban the teaching of critical race theory in D.C. public and charter schools, claiming it pits "Americans against Americans."
Critical Race Theory is an academic concept that defines racism as a social construct produced not just by individuals but embedded into existing legal systems and policies. One example of this is redlining, the process of denying Black people mortgages in certain neighborhoods that started in the 1930s.
But the legislation introduced earlier this month by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) says that no teacher, student, or staff member in DCPS or charter schools should "adopt, affirm, adhere to, or profess ideas that promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating."
The bill defines "race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating'' as language that communicates the following ideas: one race or sex is inherently superior to another, the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist, an individual is inherently racist or oppressive by their sex or race, or an individual bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
"How can we expect any child to succeed in life when we teach them that the deck is stacked against them and that they will forever be held back by racist oppressors?" Grothman said in a press release issued Friday.
The bill is co-sponsored by Congressman Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina), Congressman Pat Fallon (R-Texas), Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), and Congressman Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), and has been endorsed by Heritage Action for America, a conservative advocacy organization petitioning Congress to enact "policies that hold true to our Founding Fathers' ideals."
Similar bills have been introduced by lawmakers in various states — Texas just banned the teaching of citical race theory, for one — but Grothman's bill is distinct in that it would use congressional legislative power only on D.C. schools. While D.C. has elected local officials, it is ultimately under the authority of Congress because it is not a state. Republicans on Capitol Hill often introduce bills focusing on hot-button social issues that would only apply in the city, largely because they could not otherwise pass bills that focus exclusively on particular cities or states.
Neither DCPS nor local education organizations advocating for race and social justice education were immediately available to respond to DCist's request for comment. (D.C. government offices and many organizations are closed today for Juneteenth.)
Grothman has been an active member in country-wide efforts to ban CRT, including co-sponsoring bills that rescind President Joe Biden's Executive Order nullifying the Trump administration's ban on teaching CRT to federal employees and blocking federal funds to any policy, activity, or entity that promotes employee CRT training.
"The purpose of this retelling of American history is to try to set American against American," Grothman said in the press release. "Rather than share the wonderful gift we all have, to live the American Dream if we work for it, the goal of CRT is to make Americans bitter and angry with each other."
Grothman is not the first conservative figure to rally against critical race theory education. Conservative lawmakers in states across the country have proposed or passed legislation that limits or bans critical race theory education in states including South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Idaho.
"The CRT curriculum that 'enlightened' educators are regurgitating teaches our children hate – to hate each other and hate their country. In other words, students are being taught that they are defined by the color of their skin, not the content of their character, Grothman said in the press release. "This neo-racist ideology should have no place in our public education system, especially in our nation's capital."
This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.