Methodology

The CRT Forward Tracking Project identifies, follows, and analyzes local, state, and federal activity that attempts to suppress truth-telling about systemic racism through a campaign against Critical Race Theory (CRT), diversity, equity, inclusion, antiracism, and antisexism. This anti-CRT activity, in the form of proposed and enacted legislation, regulations, attorney general letters, and other governmental instruments seeks to restrict the ability to speak truthfully about racism and sexism in multiple contexts, like in K-12 education, private businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and higher education. 

In the Summer of 2021, with support from the UCLA School of Law and Lumina Foundation, the UCLA School of Law Critical Race Studies (CRS) Program launched the CRT Forward Tracking Project. Since August 2021, the CRT Forward Tracking Project Team of faculty, staff, research librarians, and law school and undergraduate research assistants have gathered, tracked, and analyzed anti-CRT activity at the local, state, and federal levels of government. As of the initial launch, the Tracking Project is the only existing database that tracks and analyzes anti-CRT activity at all levels of government. Our focus is specifically on formally proposed or actually enacted official government policies, not advocacy by non-governmental actors or comments to the media by government officials.

The Project gathers information from multiple sources. To identify anti-CRT activity, we primarily use two complementary approaches facilitated through legal information databases, Lexis and Westlaw. First, we search Lexis databases of state and federal legislation to identify anti-CRT bills. As of our initial March 2022 launch, the most recent search was conducted on March 15, 2022. We also perform progress updates on anti-CRT activity through the Lexis database.

Second, we search over 4,000 U.S. newspapers and other media for coverage of anti-CRT activity. As of our initial launch, through this process, we have screened over 12,000 media articles, published between September 1, 2020 and November 2, 2021. These media searches enable us to identify activity that is not compiled in any existing, national database. This includes activity at the local level, including school districts.  It also includes many forms of non-legislative activity at all levels of government.  Because we rely on media coverage to identify these types of activity where no comprehensive national database exists, there may be instances of anti-CRT activity that we cannot detect.

Each media search result is reviewed individually to confirm whether it involves anti-CRT activity. If anti-CRT activity is confirmed, further legal research is conducted to identify the underlying actions from an official source, such as school board meeting minutes or a state legislature’s website. Researchers periodically review each identified anti-CRT activity for progress updates to ensure up-to-date information on all anti-CRT activity in the database. Researchers are alerted to any updates in the state legislative activity through a Lexis database feature. For non-state legislative activity, the ongoing media screening reveals updates. The team codes each action for the targeted institutions, the regulated conduct, like teaching and training, and the targeted content, like training or teaching, among other attributes as listed below. The database is updated on a monthly basis to account for new anti-CRT activity or updates to items already in the database.

As of our initial launch, the CRT Forward Tracking Project includes 370 total instances of anti-CRT activity across 48 states. As detailed further below, each anti-CRT activity has been analyzed to determine: (1) the entities the activity is targeting; (2) the types of conduct being regulated; (3) the specific features of the conduct being targeted; and (4) enforcement mechanisms used to regulate the conduct. Additionally, for each anti-CRT activity, the database includes links to the official full text of the activity, such as to a statute or legislative record, as well as any publicly accessible source for updates in its status.  

Citation for media outlets, policy briefs and online resources: CRT Forward Tracking Project, www.crtforward.law.ucla.edu

Citation for academic publications and research reports: Taifha Natalee Alexander, LaToya Baldwin Clark, Isabel Flores-Ganley, Cheryl Harris, Jasleen Kohli, Lynn McLelland, Paton Moody, Nicole Powell, Milan Smith, and Noah Zatz. CRT Forward Tracking Project [date database was accessed]. UCLA School of Law Critical Race Studies Program, www.crtforward.law.ucla.edu.

Dataset

The data users can explore on the website as well as definitions for each of the data terms are as follows:

Date: When the activity was introduced

Date Adopted: When the proposed anti-CRT activity was approved and took effect

Level of Government: Federal, state, school district, or city or county government

State or Federal: Where the anti-CRT activity was introduced. This includes the state in which local activity occurs.

Bill Number: The official number assigned to the proposed or enacted state law, where relevant

Body Name: Name of government official or entity taking the action

Authority Type: Instrument being used to advance anti-CRT activity

  • Executive Directive: A binding directive under the executive’s control
  • Legislation: A state legislature’s proposed or enacted law or local ordinances and policies established by school boards
  • Attorney General Letter: Letter from either a state attorney general or governor issuing an official legal opinion an opinion on anti-CRT activity
  • Regulation: A rule issued by an administrative agency such as a state education department or school board.
  • Resolution: An official position passed by a legislative body, but without the force of law like legislation
  • Statement: An official position statement on anti-CRT activity from an executive official
  • Policy: Newly introduced anti-CRT plan or revision to a former diversity plan

Progress: Status of the anti-CRT activity

  • Pending: The anti-CRT activity has been proposed and is under consideration.
  • Adopted: The anti-CRT activity is adopted and now in effect.
  • Withdrawn/expired: The anti-CRT activity was proposed but is no longer under consideration.
  • Introduced and failed: The activity was defeated by vote or veto.

Target Institution: The type of entity the activity is attempting to regulate

  • K-12
  • Higher education
  • State or federal agencies
  • Government contractors
  • Private businesses or on-profits

Conduct Prohibited: Acts the anti-CRT activity addresses

  • Classroom teaching: Instruction in the classroom
  • Curricular content: Collection of lessons, facts, theories, assessments, and concepts taught in school
  • Policy: newly introduced anti-CRT plan or a revision or complete revocation of former diversity plan
  • Trainings: staff or student trainings

Conduct Required: Acts the anti-CRT activity demands or forbids

  • Curricular surveillance: publishing the classroom teaching and curricular content
  • Forbidden books: restricting access to certain books
  • Student education opt-out: allows parents to restrict their student from certain education

Content Trigger: Features of the regulated conduct that trigger anti-CRT restrictions

  • Invokes Critical Race Theory
  • Invokes the 1619 Project
  • The U.S. [or a state within the U.S.] is fundamentally racist or sexist *
  • An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex *
  • Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex *
  • Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race to oppress another race *
  • “Divisive concepts” or “controversial issues” *

* Concepts from the now rescinded Trump Executive Order 13950.

Enforcement Mechanism: Methods to achieve compliance

  • Funding withheld: Financial support withheld if entity found to have engaged in CRT activity
  • Private cause of action: An individual can privately sue a teacher, school administrator, or entire school district for engaging in CRT activity
  • Tenure Revocation or Denial: removes or withholds tenure protections from faculty members employed at colleges and universities.

Category: the anti-CRT activity focuses only on race or ethnicity or also sex or another category including but not limited to religion, socioeconomic status, and color