Critical Race Theory

Education news, analysis, and opinion about the roiling debate over, and the politicization of, the term "critical race theory" and what that means for schools

Explainer

What Is Critical Race Theory, and Why Is It Under Attack?
Debates about critical race theory are coming to your district, board room, and classroom. Here's what you need to understand about the academic concept—and how it's portrayed in political circles.
In this June 23, 1963, file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King joins Detroit's Freedom March. During the critical era of the 1950s and '60s, King, who led the 250,000-strong March on Washington in 1963, and Malcolm X were colossal 20th century figures, representing two different tracks: mass non-violent protest and getting favorable outcomes "by any means necessary."
In this June 23, 1963, file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King joins Detroit's Freedom March. During the critical civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, King, who led the 250,000-strong March on Washington in 1963, and Malcolm X, were colossal 20th century figures, representing two different tracks: mass non-violent protest and getting favorable outcomes "by any means necessary."
AP
Social Studies College Board Releases AP African American Studies Framework, Runs Into Anti-CRT Laws
The new AP course recently made headlines after Florida officials banned the pilot course in the state for allegedly defying state law.
Ileana Najarro, February 1, 2023
6 min read
Arkansas Gov.-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders is introduced with husband Bryan, and children Scarlett, George, and Huck prior to taking the oath of the office on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in Little Rock, Ark.
Arkansas Gov.-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders prepares to take the oath of office, with her husband and children by her side, on the steps of the state capitol in Little Rock on Jan. 10.
Will Newton/AP
States The Republican Fight Against 'Critical Race Theory' Continues As Arkansas Enacts New Ban
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order this week banning “indoctrination and critical race theory” in schools.
Sarah Schwartz, January 12, 2023
3 min read
Social Studies Video Updating Social Studies Expectations in the ‘Critical Race Theory’ Era
Always a focal point for controversy, updating what students should know in history class became especially charged in late 2021 and 2022.
Lauren Santucci & Stephen Sawchuk, January 3, 2023
5:23
People fill out ballots to vote at Benjamin Banneker Middle School during Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Silver Spring, Md.
People fill out ballots to vote at Benjamin Banneker Middle School on Nov. 8 in Silver Spring, Md.
Jose Luis Magana/AP
Federal What Education Issues Did Voters Care About Most? Hint: It Was Not Critical Race Theory
An NEA poll shows voters' education priorities in the midterm elections.
Libby Stanford, December 20, 2022
5 min read
People protest outside the offices of the New Mexico Public Education Department's office in November 2021, in Albuquerque. The demonstrators were protesting proposed changes to the state's social studies curriculum that they deemed as "critical race theory."
People protest outside the offices of the New Mexico Public Education Department's office on Nov. 12, 2021, in Albuquerque. The demonstrators objected to proposed changes to the state's social studies curriculum that they deemed to be "critical race theory."
Cedar Attanasio/AP
Equity & Diversity The Evolution of the Anti-CRT Movement: A Timeline
What started as a federal executive order gave way to restrictions on racism lessons, book bans, and anti-LGBTQ policies over two years.
Eesha Pendharkar, December 13, 2022
5 min read
People protest outside the offices of the New Mexico Public Education Department's office on Nov. 12, 2021, in Albuquerque. The education department proposed changes to the social studies curriculum that critics describe as a veiled attempt to teach critical race theory. Supporters say the new curriculum, which includes ethnic studies, is "anti-racist."
People protest outside the offices of the New Mexico Public Education Department on Nov. 12, 2021, in Albuquerque. The protesters were reacting to proposed changes to the social studies curriculum that they said were a veiled attempt to teach critical race theory.
Cedar Attanasio/AP
Families & the Community How to Respond to Parents' CRT Complaints
Four experts have advice for district leaders on how to craft their messages on diversity, equity, and inclusion lessons and initiatives.
Eesha Pendharkar, November 4, 2022
5 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Equity & Diversity Opinion Educators Will Teach 'Truth About Oppression' Despite CRT Attacks
Although some educators fear for their jobs, they say not teaching what students need to know would be a disservice.
Larry Ferlazzo, September 26, 2022
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Equity & Diversity Opinion How Attacks on Critical Race Theory Are Affecting Teachers
The experience has left some teachers fearing for their safety and livelihood and retreating from their practices.
Larry Ferlazzo, September 18, 2022
16 min read
Superintendent Deborah Gist speaks during a Tulsa Public Schools board meeting in Tulsa, Okla. on March 5, 2018.
Superintendent Deborah Gist speaks during a Tulsa Public Schools board meeting in Tulsa, Okla., in March 2018.<br/>
Joey Johnson/Tulsa World via AP
Equity & Diversity Two Okla. Districts Get Downgraded Accreditations for Violating State's Anti-CRT Law
The Tulsa and Mustang public school systems are the first to feel the sting of a state law that restricts discussion of race and racism in schools.
Eesha Pendharkar, August 2, 2022
8 min read
Social Studies Florida Is Placing Limits on Social Studies Textbooks. Here’s What Has to Go
Earlier this year, Florida drew national attention for rejecting math textbooks. Could the same happen with social studies?
Ileana Najarro, July 14, 2022
5 min read
Illustration of diverse hands being raised.
iStock/Getty
States How Laws on Race, Sexuality Could Clash With Culturally Responsive Teaching
Critical race theory and culturally responsive teaching are not the same thing. But bans of one could impact the other.
Ileana Najarro, April 21, 2022
7 min read
teacher diverse classroom
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Equity & Diversity Q&A What Should Culturally Relevant Teaching Look Like Today? Gloria Ladson-Billings Explains
"The attack on anything that allows more participation and moves us toward equity is going full force," the scholar said.
Madeline Will, April 20, 2022
8 min read
conceptual illustration of a classroom with colorful roots growing beneath the surface under the teacher and students
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
Teaching Explainer What Is Culturally Responsive Teaching?
Here's what it means to be a culturally responsive teacher and where critical race theory ties in—or not.
Madeline Will & Ileana Najarro, April 18, 2022
17 min read
Illustration of school building under construction with a heart being suspended from a crane.
F.Sheehan/Education Week (Images: Getty)
School & District Management Opinion The Anti-Racist Counternarrative Public Education Needs Now
In the face of a national movement to discredit public education, educators must respond with our own movement prioritizing anti-racism.
Gregory C. Hutchings Jr., April 6, 2022
5 min read