GOP Bill Would Ban 'Antiracism' Confessionals From D.C. Schools

Latest attempt to combat critical race theory stops short of banning it

Students at a Loudoun County, Va., elementary school / Getty Images
June 16, 2021

A bill would prohibit District of Columbia public schools from hosting exercises in which students and teachers are forced to publicly apologize for their race or sex.

House Education and Labor Committee member Glenn Grothman (R., Wis.) on Wednesday will introduce the Ending Critical Race Theory in D.C. Public Schools Act, which would protect teachers and students in the nation's capital from taking part in the forced confessions often featured in "antiracism" training sessions. The bill would also bar educators from teaching that America is "fundamentally racist or sexist" and that individuals are responsible for past actions committed by others of the same demographic group.

Students and teachers across the country have been required to profess their "inherent racism" as K-12 schools embrace critical race theory. Third-graders in Cupertino, California, were asked to rank their own traits within a hierarchy of identity, City Journal reported. One Minnesota high school pressed white teachers and faculty to check their "own privilege" and "whiteness."

Grothman's bill, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, would protect students and teachers in D.C. schools from being compelled to "adopt, affirm, adhere to, or profess ideas that promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating." The bill notes that race-based stereotyping includes the assertion that inherent characteristics like sex and race make individuals "oppressive" or "racist."

"My heart goes out to any children who have the misfortune of attending the District of Columbia schools," Grothman told the Free Beacon. "Objective statistics show the District of Columbia having the second highest spending per student in the country, while having either the lowest or second lowest reading and math scores in the country. So while the kids can't read and kids can't add, they'll sure be able to spout Marxist, America-hating rhetoric."

Grothman is the latest Republican to oppose critical race theory. Texas governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed legislation to ban critical race theory—the notion that racism is ingrained in American institutions—in his state's public schools. Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed similar legislation last week, as have the governors of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Idaho.

Jonathan Butcher, an education fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said Grothman's bill reveals the "prejudice inherent" in critical race theory, in addition to protecting teachers' and students' free speech.

"Ideas that reject compelled speech correctly shed light on the prejudice inherent in school lesson plans based on critical race theory," Butcher told the Free Beacon. "There are any number of examples, from affinity groups that separate students according to race for different school activities to professional development for teachers that tell educators they are biased whether they know it or not, to represent how critical race theory in schools leads to discrimination."

Congress has power to regulate D.C. public schools, which have embraced radical education standards in recent months. In November, a teacher at Hardy Middle School said that racism and capitalism in the United States caused the coronavirus pandemic. And the district's Equity Strategy and Programming Team compiled a list of "Recommended Readings and Resources for Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism," which included resources specifically for white parents and students.