By: Kyle Reinhard
On April 6, 2023, CRT Forward, an initiative of the Critical Race Studies (CRS) Program at UCLA School of Law, released a new report documenting findings from its first two years of operation.
The report, CRT Forward: Tracking the Attack on Critical Race Theory, chronicles the origins of the attacks and their spread, demonstrating how laws, policies, and other government actions linked to anti-“CRT” advocacy have infiltrated federal, state, and local governments and broadly restricted — and chilled — the ability of students and teachers to speak truthfully about race, racism, and systemic racism.
CRT Forward researchers have screened the results of regular, systematic searches in news and legislative databases in Westlaw and Lexis — including over 30,000 articles from more than 4,000 U.S. newspapers and related media sources published between September 2020 and December 31, 2022 — in order to cull the data serving as the basis for this Report. The Project Team has individually coded each measure to determine the type of conduct that is restricted or required, the institution targeted for regulation, the specific features of the conduct being targeted, and any enforcement mechanisms used to regulate the conduct.
For the period of January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022, CRT Forward has identified and followed the progress of 563 anti-“CRT” measures, introduced at nearly even rates in 2021 (280) and 2022 (283). These have emerged from state and/or local authorities in every U.S. state besides Delaware. The nation’s 25 red states are responsible for 63% of all introduced measures; the 20 blue states, for 21% of the total; and the 5 purple states, 16%. Over calendar years 2021 and 2022, a total of 241 of these 563 introduced measures were enacted or adopted.
In September 2020, the Trump Administration issued an Executive Order outlawing the teaching of so-called “divisive concepts” in employee trainings in federal departments and agencies and for government contractors. While President Joe Biden quickly revoked the Order following his inauguration in January 2021, “divisive concepts” bans have had substantial lasting effect: among all introduced measures linked to the anti-“CRT” campaign, 41% seek to regulate at least one form of subject matter first listed and defined in E.O. 13950 as being a “divisive concept.”
The overwhelming majority of introduced (91%) and enacted (94%) measures include K–12 schools as targets. The 226 total adopted measures targeting K–12 schools impact over 22 million public school children, almost half of the country’s 50.8 million public school students. Institutions of higher education are targeted in about 20% of all introduced measures and 12% of enacted measures. Although institutions of higher education are targeted in fewer total introduced measures, those which are enacted can have wide-ranging effects: for instance, where a measure applies to all member schools in a state’s public college system.