CRT Forward Tracking Project Trends as of 8/4/23

By: Kyle Reinhard

Recently released data from the CRT Forward Tracking Project reveals several new national, state, local, and content-specific trends. These trends include the following that: (1) at present, 2023 is set to outpace all anti-CRT activity from 2020 - 2022; (2) measures targeting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs have continued to grow substantially in 2023; and (3) federal legislators have targeted CRT and DEI in a series of appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2024.

(1) At present, 2023 is set to outpace all anti-CRT measures from 2020 - 2022

Over the last four months, the number of anti-CRT measures introduced at the federal, state, and local levels nationwide has risen from 670 in April 2023 to a total of 750 as of August 1, 2023.

At the close of December 2022, the total number of identified anti-CRT measures was 563. To be clear, with 187 new measures identified in this calendar year alone, 2023 is set to outpace all anti-CRT measures from 2020 - 2022. If current trends continue to hold over the final five months of the year, then 2023 will see nearly 14% more anti-CRT measures than 2021 (280 total) and 2022 (283).

As discussed in more detail below, as the number of attacks on DEI programs have proliferated in recent months, it is highly likely that, especially with the 2023-2024 academic school year, the number of anti-CRT measures will continue to increase. Even if the pace of introduced anti-CRT measures slow in the coming months as in previous years, if the end of 2023 is similar to 2021, then the total number of measures introduced for the year will still be the highest yet.

It is clear that, still nearly three years since the start of the campaign targeting CRT in September 2020, the attacks on CRT and antiracist education, research, and training remain in full force.

(2) Measures targeting DEI programs have grown substantially in 2023

In just the first seven months of 2023, measures targeting DEI offices and training programs have skyrocketed. So far, there have been 50 measures aimed at DEI introduced in 2023 alone. This is higher than the yearly totals for 2022 (18) and 2021 (26) combined.

Thirty of this year's 50 new anti-DEI measures originated at the state level: 21 in state legislatures, two from state governors directly, and the remaining seven from a combination of state Departments of Education and other executive offices as well as college and university administrators and Boards of Regents. Five new anti-DEI measures have been introduced at the local level, with three coming directly from local school districts and two from county councils or boards. Finally, 15 new measures have been introduced at the federal level, as discussed below.

(3) Federal legislators have specifically targeted CRT and DEI in a series of appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2024

In the last three months, GOP lawmakers have repeatedly targeted both DEI and CRT by name in a number of important appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2024, including the National Defense Authorization Act; the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act; the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act; the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act; the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act; and the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act. These bills are directed at financial services, general government, energy and water development, and related agencies.

Of the 11 new anti-DEI budget bills introduced since May 2023, nine also ban training in Critical Race Theory by name, with the remaining two banning one or more of the “divisive concepts” first appearing in the Trump Administration’s September 2020 Executive Order 13950.

By targeting CRT and DEI in these budgeting acts — many of which are necessary to fund the government more broadly and typically receive widespread bipartisan support. In the weeks to come, Tracking Project researchers will continue to monitor the progress of these bills to see how House and Senate members resolve these crucial political battles, and whether CRT and DEI remain in the crosshairs.

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