Idaho Passes Bill Banning Critical Race Theory
Idaho has passed a bill to ban Critical Race Theory (CRT) from public colleges and universities under the impression that it advocates that one race, gender, ethnicity or religion is supposedly better or more superior than another. In the bill, Idaho lawmakers have purported that in teaching students about Critical Race Theory, “divisions on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or other criteria” will be “exacerbate[d] and inflame[d].”
Sponsors of the bill, Idaho state Rep. Julianne Young and Sen. Carl Crabtree, believe that students have been forced into ideologies and that in teaching Critical Race Theory, students are being taught discriminaition. During testimonies, Crabtree was asked to provide evidence that Critical Race Theory was actually being taught in school, and he was unable to provide evidence. This bill affects all public schools, including public colleges and universities.
The bill has already come under scrutiny from prominent members of the community, like Layne McInelly, president of the Idaho Education Association, and Idaho state Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking. They were backed by students and teachers who peacefully protested on the capitol steps before sitting in the gallery while the bill was being debated by senators.
Other states, like California, have been taking more initiative with their curriculum. After four long years and just as many drafts, California has developed a brand new 900-page long curriculum. The goal of this new curriculum is to teach students the histories and cultures of people of color. California has decided to focus on four groups whose history and experiences are taught in most schools: African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Latinx Americans, Native Americans; the histories of Jewish and Arab Americans will also be included.
This curriculum is the first statewide effort put forth to include more than the White male lens through which traditional history is taught. Other states and cities across the country are mirroring these efforts as well. Connecticut has signed a law which states that beginning in Fall of 2022, high schools will be required to offer courses in African-American and Black, Puerto Rican and Latinx studies. Much like California’s curriculum, Connecticut is the first state to require schools to include these courses. In Connecticut, the courses are only required to be offered, but students are not required to take them. In Idaho, students are deprived of the opportunity to take these courses entirely.
Critical Race Theory is a critique of institutionalized racism, and the idea that these systems are varied and put people of color at the bottom of a racial caste system. CRT acknowledges slavery, segregation, and other systems of oppression and how they continue to impact and oppress in current times.
The term “critical race theory” was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American lawyer and civil rights activist, and she defines it as a verb rather than a noun, allowing CRT to be fluid and able to evolve.
According to Crenshaw, CRT is a way to understand the systems of White supremacy and realize that events in the past have not stayed there, but have carried on into future generations.
The passing of this bill in Idaho will only raise more discussion on the future of curriculum throughout the United States.