Why Bans on Critical Race Theory are Threatening School Systems


Kendall VonKahle

State Legislatures are making attempts to ban Critical Race Theory (CRT) from being taught in public schools. So far, seven states including Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have officially banned the teaching of CRT, and sixteen states have a possible ban in progress. The topic of banning CRT has faced opposition from both sides, with some state governments finding it too restrictive for the school systems, and others believing the practice should be eliminated.

So what is critical race theory? CRT is an academic concept using social and intellectual standpoints to examine how race intersects into United States Social Institutions (the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, healthcare system, ect.). An example of this would be people of color being condemned to larger prison sentences than their caucasian counterparts for the same crimes.

Critical Race Theory has long been disputed. The ideology behind CRT attributes racism to social institutions and provides further discussion on how the racist embedding in these systems disproportionately affects people of color. This conceptual framework has been attacked because many believe that it is directly attacking white people due to the country’s racial inequalities. The criticisms voiced by those against CRT seemingly shows that many people do not separate the American identity with our governing institutions. This misconception has led people to believe that CRT is calling white people racist personally, rather than being a means to challenge mainstream point of views of racial discrepancies.

So why is it an issue that schools cannot teach CRT? Teachers are now unsure of how to approach topics involving racism in their classrooms. Iowa governor Kim Renolds signed a bill that prohibits the teaching of concepts that may imply that “members of a particular race are

inherently inclined to oppress others”, and that “The U.S. or Iowa is fundamentally racist”. The ambiguity of these statements in Iowa’s and other states CRT bills severely limits what teachers are willing to discuss about U.S history, especially regarding the past and current states of race relations, out of fear that they will face repercussions. If historical information is taught incorrectly or incompletley because it treads too close to a discussion about oppression or discrimination by certain races, it can cause students to have a skewed perception of inequality and the racist past of the United States. Parents and state legislators have expressed concern that hearing depictions of racism in U.S history may make caucasian students uncomfortable.

The censorship of critical race theory prohibits students from learning about issues of race and diversity. These systems being outlawed dilutes the racial progress made by teaching students how to face and challenge these inequalities and strive for diversity. The fight for and against critical race theory is ongoing and will impact students and school communities nationwide.