By: Nicole Powell
Through identifying, tracking, and analyzing anti-CRT activity at the local, federal, and state levels, the CRT Forward Tracking Project data has identified several national, state, local, and content-specific trends. These trends have revealed that: (1) 57% of all anti-CRT activity in the CRT Forward Tracking Project stems from the rescinded Trump Administration "Equity Gag Order"; (2) the most Anti-CRT measures were introduced in California, at the local school board level, Missouri, at the state level, and, at the federal level, in the United States Congress; (3) South Dakota Governor Noem and New Mexico local government entities have introduced the most anti-CRT measures within their respective entity types; (4) California and Virginia have the highest number of enacted anti-CRT measures in the country; (5) K - 12 schools, higher education, teaching and curricular content are targeted in most anti-CRT measures; and (6) 85% of anti-CRT activity with enforcement mechanism provisions outline withholding funding or imposing fees against individual schools or entire districts.
Most CRT Forward Tracking Project anti-CRT activity stems from the Trump Administration "Equity Gag Order"
Many anti-CRT measures at the local, state, and federal levels emerged from President Trump's now-rescinded Executive Order 13950, which was intended to curb diversity, antiracism, and implicit bias trainings at the federal level. The Executive Order wrongfully aligned such trainings with anti-patriotism. Of the 394 anti-CRT measures in FTP, 224 use at least one concept from the Executive Order in inaccurately equating antiracist teaching, training and research with anti-American sentiment.
Most Anti-CRT proposals found in California, Missouri, and United States Congress
At the local level, school boards, school districts and local boards of education have been successful at enacting measures to restrict teaching, surveil curriculum, and forbid textbooks with racial or social justice themes. The results on local school board anti-CRT activity were somewhat surprising. The highest number of local, anti-CRT activity did not come from a traditionally conservative state, but rather, California. In California, eight, different, local school boards have proposed anti-CRT measures. At the state level, the Missouri Legislature has proposed 25 bills to restrict access to truthful information about race and systemic racism through teaching and curricular prohibitions. The results at the federal level mirrors the data in Missouri, as 25 federal bills have been proposed to do the same.
South Dakota Governor and New Mexico city and county commissions are most in proposing anti-CRT measures at the Gubernatorial and local government levels, respectively
While some attorney generals, lieutenant governors, as well as state boards of education have proposed anti-CRT activity, CRT Forward Tracking Project data demonstrates that these government actors are less active than local school boards, local school districts, and state legislatures in introducing anti-CRT measures. In many states, like in New York for example, a state legislature may have introduced an anti-CRT measure and that may be the only activity present in the state.
However, there are notable exceptions to this specific trend. In South Dakota, Governor Noem has proposed five anti-CRT measures, which is the most Gubernatorial anti-CRT activity in the country. In New Mexico, city and county commissions have proposed three anti-CRT measures, the most of any other state in the country.
California and Virginia have the highest number of enacted anti-CRT measures in the country
In California, five out of eight local school board anti-CRT proposed policies have been enacted. Virginia has enacted all five of their local school board anti-CRT measures. Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Rhode Island have also enacted at least one anti-CRT measure at the local or state level.
K-12, higher education, teaching and curricular content focus of most anti-CRT measures
CRT Forward Tracking Project reveals that local, state, and federal proposed anti-CRT measures primarily target K-12 schools and higher education institutions. 93%, or 367, of the identified anti-CRT measures target K-12 schools and higher education. 77%, or 304, of the identified anti-CRT measures police teaching in K-12 schools. This level of targeting serves at least two functions to: (1) restrict teaching that allows for truthful information about race and systemic racism to be learned; and (2) ensure the restriction is upheld through curricular and classroom surveillance. Teaching is the most regulated conduct type, making up 80% of all regulated conduct, among the categories of training, curricular surveillance, student education opt-outs, and revision of diversity policies. Curricular content is the second most regulated conduct type, making up 76% of all types of conduct regulated by anti-CRT measures throughout FTP.
Withholding of funding or issuing of fines
Several anti-CRT measures and bills include enforcement mechanism provisions - creating punitive measures to punish actors who engage in regulated conduct. Withholding funding from teachers, schools, and school districts is the most common enforcement mechanism against accused violators. Out of the 117 anti-CRT measures that include enforcement mechanisms, 100 outline withholding funding or imposing fines from individual schools or entire districts for engaging in prohibited activity.
These trends demonstrate the extent and breadth of the assault on access to truthful information about Critical Race Theory, race, and systemic racism within individual states and more broadly across the country. These trends are also emblematic of the pervasiveness, and related success, of the disinformation campaign to distort the true understanding of CRT. The Equity Gag Order laid the foundation for other government actors to build upon a mischaracterization of CRT. As a result, there are now nearly 400 instances of anti-CRT measures aimed at restricting access to truthful information about CRT, race, and systemic racism.