By: Taifha Natalee Alexander
As the assaults on antiracist training, teaching, and research enter the second quarter of 2023, emerging trends in anti-CRT measures demonstrate that the assaults are continuing to evolve. Recently released data from the CRT Forward Tracking Project reveals several new national, state, local, and content-specific trends. These trends include the following: (a) the total number of introduced anti-CRT measures increased by nearly 10%; (b) of the 10% increase, many measures specifically target diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; (c) California continues to lead the country in states where introduced measures are limited to the local school board level; and (d) one east coast state introduced a state legislative measure that changed its status from a state with only local level anti-CRT measures.
(A) Introduced anti-CRT measures have grown from 617 in February 2023 to at least 670 in April 2023.
The CRT Forward Tracking Project data indicates that at least 670 anti-CRT measures have been introduced in April 2023. This increase of 53 newly-identified anti-CRT measures is on pace with the rate of newly-identified measures in February 2023. Included among the 53 newly-identified anti-CRT measures are state legislative and local policy measures aimed at restricting access to truthful information about race and systemic racism through a campaign to reject Critical Race Theory.
In Arizona, the Department of Education recently launched a hotline aimed at targeting teachers and administrators teaching lessons on race, ethnicity, and gender affirming principles. In Arkansas, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed the Learns Act into law. The Learns Act prohibits the teaching of Critical Race Theory and could allow for the revocation of a teacher's license in the state of Arkansas if an educator is found to have taught lesson plans related to race. In Utah, legislatures introduced and enacted House Bill 427, which requires state boards of education, local education agencies, and staff ensure that instructional materials do not include certain distortions of systemic racism.
(B) New anti-CRT measures specifically target general diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
CRT Forward researchers have identified an emerging trend among the newly identified anti-CRT measures. Anti-CRT efforts in Texas, Florida, and Michigan specifically target general diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. In Texas, Governor Abbott issued a letter to state agencies and public universities instructing these government institutions to halt diversity, equity, and inclusion considerations in the hiring process. As a result, the University of Texas Board of Regents paused all diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. In Florida, the College System Presidents issued a statement as it related to diversity, equity, inclusion and Critical Race Theory. And in Michigan, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners dismantled the Office of Diversity & Inclusion.
As the number of newly-introduced anti-CRT measures grows, CRT Forward Tracking Project Researchers will continue to monitor this emerging trend.
(C) California leading among states with local school board anti-CRT measures.
The CRT Forward Tracking Project Interactive Map demonstrates that most states have introduced anti-CRT measures at the state level or both the state and local levels. Since the launch of the CRT Forward Tracking Project in April 2022, California has and continues to lead among states where anti-CRT measures have been introduced at the local school board level. Local school boards in California have introduced eleven measures across seven school boards. Seven have been enacted. Government officials in Vermont and Massachusetts, up until recently, have introduced one in each state. Neither have been enacted.
(D) Massachusetts introduces a state legislative measure.
When the Tracking Project was launched in April 2022, government officials in Massachusetts did not introduce any anti-CRT measures. In fact, the first and only anti-CRT measure in Massachusetts was introduced in May 2022. The measure was a county level resolution in the Mansfield Town Government that was targeted at K-12 classroom teaching. The measure aimed to restrict access to truthful information about race.
More than ten months after the introduction and withdrawal of the Mansfield Town Government resolution, Representative DeCoste introduced a curricular surveillance bill that targets K-12 schools as well as private businesses and deputizes citizens to bring an action in court against the school board to ensure compliance with the bill.
The introduction of this bill demonstrates that the anti-CRT campaign remains active and continues to grow, especially in states where activity has been limited to the local levels.