Story at a glance:

  • While 43 percent of respondents are aware of critical race theory, nearly 30 percent said they have not heard of it, according to Reuters and Ipsos.
  • The majority of Americans support teaching high school students about the implications of slavery and racism.
  • Critical race theory is an academic framework that traces the history of slavery and racism and how those structures influence public policy.

While nearly one-third of Americans say they have not heard of critical race theory (CRT), a majority of the public support teaching high school students about the implications of racism and slavery in the U.S., according to a new Reuters and Ipsos poll.  

Critical race theory is a way of studying the legacy of racism and slavery in the U.S. and how these forces continue to shape public policy. The legal and educational concept is based on the premise that race is a social construct and that the U.S. was built on racist structures that are present today. 

The academic movement — now more than 40 years old — isn’t widely taught outside of college and universities, but its integration into earlier American education is an ongoing debate.

According to Reuters and Ipsos recent polling, 43 percent of respondents are aware of CRT, while nearly 30 percent said they have not heard of it.


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The poll says that the majority of Americans — across party lines — support teaching high school students about the implications of slavery and racism in the U.S. 

This support is strongest among Democrats, with 86 percent of Democratic respondents saying they support the teaching of slavery, and 85 percent saying they support the teaching of racism. 

This majority also extends to most Republicans: 73 percent are in favor of schools teaching slavery, and 58 percent support schools teaching racism.

The teaching of CRT in high schools has been met with resistive measures from some lawmakers, with Florida, Texas and Oklahoma creating prohibitive legislation on what can be taught in schools. For instance, a Texas bill would not “compel” teachers to discuss “controversial issue[s] of public policy or social affairs" and that if they do, they can’t give "deference to any one perspective.”

The Texas Senate also recently passed a bill that would no longer require public school students to learn about the Ku Klux Klan or that the group is “morally wrong.” 


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Published on Jul 22, 2021