UCLA Law project catalogs hundreds of anti-critical race theory measures

A student walks on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus
A student walks on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus in Los Angeles, September 18, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
  • UCLA Law is tracking proposed restrictions on the teaching of critical race theory

(Reuters) - Efforts to ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools and universities have been proposed or adopted in 49 U.S. states, according to a new analysis by the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.

The law school’s CRT Forward Tracking Project has identified nearly 500 jurisdictions where critical race theory restrictions have been proposed in the past year by state and federal lawmakers, local school boards and other public officials. The school released its findings Tuesday.

Florida, Virginia and Missouri had the most proposed restrictions, the researchers found. They also identified 29 bills introduced by U.S. lawmakers that try to restrict critical race theory at the federal level, though none have passed.

Critical race theory, which emerged out of law schools in the 1980s, argues that racism and prejudice, whether intentional or not, are embedded within U.S. laws and institutions.

UCLA Law in 2000 was the first law school to establish a program dedicated to critical race theory, which supports legal scholarship in the area.

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who helped to advance and define critical race theory, is on the school's faculty.

Critical race theory has become a political flashpoint in recent years. Conservative politicians, parents and right-wing media have deployed the term to denounce discussions of racism, "white privilege" or diversity initiatives in U.S. schools.

According to UCLA's tracker, 20% of the anti-critical race theory proposals from the past year were made at the local school board level. California, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia saw the most board-level measures.

In Democrat-controlled California, five of the eight proposals made by school boards to restrict the teaching of critical race theory were adopted, researchers found.

In September 2020, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget banned critical race theory training within the federal government at former President Donald Trump's behest. President Joe Biden later reversed that ban.

Among the measures tracked by UCLA, 94% involve restricting the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools or at colleges and universities.

The most common form of enforcement among those proposals is withholding funding or issuing fines against individual teachers, administrators, schools or districts that violate the restrictions, researchers found.

Read more:

Law school association: Banning critical race theory is censorship

Critical race theory pioneer to receive legal education’s top honor

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com