Story at a glance

  • More than 40 percent of Republicans in a Monmouth University poll said they don’t approve of teaching the history of racism in public schools.
  • Overall, 75 percent of adults surveyed across political lines said they supported teaching the history of racism in schools, but only 43 percent said they supported teaching critical race theory.
  • Critics say critical race theory teaches white children to feel guilty and Black children to feel disempowered.

More than 4 in 10 Republicans say they’re opposed to public schools teaching children the history of racism, a new survey has found, though the majority still supports it.

A Monmouth University poll found that 46 percent of Republicans disapprove of teachers educating students on the history of racism, while a slim majority (54 percent) of Republicans approved. When asked about teaching critical race theory in public schools, only 16 percent of Republicans said they approved, compared with 40 percent of Independents and 75 percent of Democrats.

Overall, 75 percent of respondents approved of teaching the history of racism, while only 43 percent said they approved of teaching critical race theory.

Teaching race in public schools has become a hot button issue across the nation, even figuring into this year’s Virginia governor’s race. Pushback, mostly from conservatives, stems largely from a misunderstanding of critical race theory, or CRT.


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Critics have said CRT teaches children to hate one another based on the color of their skin. Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, told “The View” last month that she didn’t support teaching it in schools because “I don’t have to make white kids feel bad for being white.”

“This is a conversation that has gone in the wrong direction,” Rice, who is Black, said, adding that she’s worried CRT teaches Black children to feel “disempowered.”

But critical race theorists argue that CRT doesn’t attribute racism to white people as individuals or even as groups of people, but states that U.S. social institutions, like the criminal justice system or housing market, among others, are fraught with racism that’s been embedded into laws and regulations that lead to differential outcomes by race.

Sociologists have long recognized that racism can exist even without racists.

Other recent polls suggest a large number of Republicans generally oppose discussions about race in schools altogether.

A USA Today/Ipsos poll from September found that fewer than 40 percent of Republicans supported schools teaching about the ongoing effects of slavery, and a Reuters/Ipsos poll in July found that 32 percent of Republicans opposed teaching high school students about racism’s impact in the U.S.


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Published on Nov 10, 2021