Opinion: Why Georgia schools must reject critical race theory

Conservative think tank says children being taught to see racism everywhere

Two conservative activists maintain that while the complex legalities of critical race theory may not be taught in Georgia’s K-12 schools, the fundamental underpinnings are making their way into classrooms.

Mike Gonzalez is the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., and James Quarles is Southern regional coordinator for Heritage Action for America. The author of a Georgia bill banning divisive concepts — which has become a proxy for the term CRT — said he drew on Heritage Foundation language for House Bill 1084.

By Mike Gonzalez and James Quarles

Georgia parents, unhappy that their children are being used as cannon fodder in the culture wars, have demanded action from their political leaders.

This is the impetus for bills currently before the Georgia legislature. They are a direct response to parents who have demonstrated through survey data and elections that they reject radical ideas.

Too many public schools have largely given up on the teaching of logic, civics, rhetoric, philosophy or classical languages — the subjects that previously turned schoolchildren into educated Americans. Instead, many schools are now focused on indoctrinating their wards with radical ideologies that seek to undermine the foundation of the United States by returning to the regressive idea that we must separate people by race, which activists insist is somehow progressive.

James Quarles, left, and Mike Gonzalez, right (Courtesy photos)

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

These lessons are inspired by an ideology called critical race theory. CRT is a body of work whose main tenets are that racism in America is systemic, that our society is oppressive, that white people selfishly accept change only when it benefits them, that racial identity is paramount, that government must pursue race-conscious policies in violation of the Constitution, that individualism is suspect, and that enlightenment principles wrongly universalize white people.

Critics of anti-CRT efforts always misleadingly insist — and they are saying the same thing with respect to the Georgia bills — that “CRT is not being taught in K-12 schools.” This is not the slam-dunk they imagine.

Of course, long tracts by CRT architects such as Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Charles Lawrence or Neil Gotanda are not being handed out in third grade classes. But children are getting messages that race defines and limits them. On social media, Tarece Johnson, the Gwinnett County school board chair, said white people are “socialized racists” while black people have “internalized racism.”

CRT teaches that one must see racism everywhere, even in “the ordinary business of society,” as one of its founders, Richard Delgado, has written. “Transformative change” is key. According to its founders, CRT is, above all, a tool for revolution. As Derrick Bell wrote, “As I see it, critical race theory recognizes that revolutionizing a culture begins with the radical assessment of it.”

Those who will use our children in the front line of this cultural revolution have a very low view of their fellow Georgians. In a recent guest column in this education blog, professors T. Jameson Brewer and Brandon Haas spoke of the anti-CRT movement as “an effort to satiate the public’s broad ignorance about buzzwords such as critical race theory.”

Georgians are not being ignorant. They are rejecting prejudice and standing up for their children. The same cannot be said of the activists seeking to use schools and students to further their discriminatory ideological agenda.