By John Haughey
The Center Square
August 12, 2021
The controversy over teaching critical race theory (CRT) in schools largely has been a state and local affair.
Lawmakers in more than 20 states have introduced bills banning CRT, at least eight state legislatures have adopted such measures and school boards nationwide have pondered similar actions.
The Florida Board of Education (BOE) adopted a rule in June initiated by Gov. Ron DeSantis that specifies public schools teach American history based on “universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence” and bans CRT even though it has never been taught in the Sunshine State’s K-12 schools.
Debate over CRT and legislative efforts to prohibit it is set to become a battle on the federal stage, however, with a bevy of bills filed in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House seeking to ban it nationwide.
Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is co-sponsoring four Republican-backed bills proposing to remove CRT from curriculum and from being taught by the U.S. military.
Rubio on joined North Dakota U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer and Indiana U.S. Sen. Mike Braun on Tuesday in introducing the Protect Equality and Civics Education (PEACE) Act, which would prohibit federal funding for U.S. Department of Education American History and Civics Education curriculum that “promotes divisive concepts.”
“The story of our nation is under attack as the radical left continues to attempt to rewrite American history and categorize our citizens into an oppressor and oppressed class,” Rubio said. “This is not only inaccurate, it is dangerous. I will not allow American students to be subjected to propaganda that seeks to divide and indoctrinate future generations into believing that some individuals are inherently racist solely due to the color of their skin.”
The proposed bill would codify the definition of “divisive concepts” that includes CRT as defined in the Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping executive order issued in September by former President Donald Trump.
President Joe Biden rescinded the executive order during his first week in office, calling the executive order a “harmful ban on diversity and sensitivity training.”
Rubio, Braun and Iowa U.S. Sen Joni Ernst introduced the Protecting Students From Racial Hostility Act last month. It directs DOE’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to investigate parent and student complaints against curriculum, teaching and counseling that promote “divisive concepts and foster racially-hostile school environments.”
Parent and student CRT complaints would be viewed within the context of Title VI of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 under the bill, which also would require the OCR produce an annual congressional report on CRT complaints and report complaints to state attorneys general.
“Critical race theory is Marxist-inspired indoctrination and has absolutely no place in our schools,” Rubio said. “Teaching students that they are innately part of an oppressor class or oppressed class is part of the Left’s radical agenda to rewrite the history of America. We need to protect students and parents who are willing to stand up to critical race theory and the profound repercussions it has on our schools.”
Rubio also is co-sponsoring with Arkansas U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton the Stop CRT Act and the Combating Racist Training in the Military Act, both filed last month.
The Stop CRT Act of would:
• Bar federal funds to K-12 schools that promote CRT, hire consultants to promote CRT or compel faculty members, students or any other individual to affirm the tenets of CRT;
• Bar federal funds to colleges and universities that compel faculty, students or any other individual to profess or affirm the tenets of CRT;
• Codify Trump’s September executive order “to prohibit the federal government and federal contractors from indoctrinating employees or any other individual using trainings that advocate CRT.”