In 1998, a journal article was published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education entitled “Just what is critical race theory and what's it doing in a nice field like education?” Well, now we are starting to find out.
In 2019, the Albemarle County School Board adopted a so-called “Anti-Racism Policy” with the stated purpose of eliminating “all forms of racism” in Albemarle County Public Schools. The policy seeks to do this through various programs, including training for teachers, staff, and administrators as well as through the implementation of an “anti-racist curriculum” for the students. On the surface, this initiative sounds laudable. Everyone should stand against racism. It’s an unqualified evil.
But that’s not what the policy does in practice. Rather, the policy, which is rooted in critical race theory (CRT), instructs that students must be treated differently based on their race.
CRT is an ideology that looks at everyone and everything though the lens of race. It classifies all individuals as privileged vs. unprivileged, oppressors vs. oppressed, victimizers vs. victims, haves vs. have nots, all based entirely on their race.
At the heart of CRT is a redefinition of racism. Racism has long been understood as prejudice and discrimination based on race. Take for example, the 2009, 11th edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which defines racism as: “1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race; 2: racial prejudice or discrimination.” But under CRT, racism is no longer focused on prejudice, so the solution is no longer about equality. Rather, the stated goal of CRT is “equity,” which means equality of outcome. And that, according to CRT advocates, requires that people be treated differently based on race.
CRT advocates demand that all people become “anti-racist,” and automatically label anyone who does not comply as a racist. “Anti-racism” is a misnomer, however, because it requires that people be treated differently based on their race to advance “equity.”
Albemarle County Public Schools has bought into this ideology completely. To implement its new policy, the district turns to critical race theorists like Ibram X. Kendi and Glenn Singleton, who prescribe a regimen of disparate race-based treatment and racial stereotyping. In his book How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi argues for discrimination as the answer to past and present discrimination: “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
The school board is seeking to indoctrinate children with CRT ideology. The district’s policy states, “Educators play a vital role in reducing racism and inequity by recognizing the manifestations of racism, creating culturally inclusive learning and working environments, and dismantling educational systems that directly or indirectly perpetuate racism and privilege through teaching, policy, and practice.”
This is why ADF is representing a religiously and ethnically diverse group of parents and students to challenge the racially discriminatory policies and practices of Albemarle County Public Schools. While these families come from a wide range of racial and religious backgrounds, they are united in opposing racial discrimination and ensuring the rights of parents to protect their children from harmful ideologies infiltrating the educational system. These families believe the schools should discuss race and racism, and they should teach the history of racism in the United States. But they should also treat every child as an individual endowed with innate human dignity and value, entitled to equal treatment. They should never treat any child differently based solely on their race, or view children only through the lens of race.
Teaching children to categorize themselves as oppressors or victims based solely on their race harms children, and policies that advocate racial discrimination as a solution to racial inequities have no place in public schools. As U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts once wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Those words have never been more timely than the present.
ADF is committed to protecting the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, care, and education of their children.
ADF’s Center for Legislative Advocacy is working in state legislatures across the country, advocating for legislation that ensures the government cannot infringe on fundamental parental rights.
The Virginia Constitution clearly affords educators the right to care for their students without violating their conscience or their faith.