Conventional wisdom has it that there are only two sides in the culture war over kids’ instruction on race and racism in America. Those on the right want to impose state-level bans on teaching critical race theory in public schools. Some also want to remove particular books from libraries and curriculums. On the left, people want to teach about America’s history of racism and contemporary systemic racism but from only one perspective, with little if any room for debate. They deny CRT is being taught. I don’t believe these are really the only options. Schools can and should teach about race and racism while upholding this nation’s liberal values of free inquiry.
I know firsthand that American public schools are suffering from highly ideological instruction. I recently received an email from Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools, where I have two children enrolled in 11th grade, updating parents on an “Antiracist Audit” the school system is undertaking. The report describes a new proposed social-studies curriculum, which “strengthens students’ sense of racial, ethnic, and tribal identities, helps students understand and resist systems of oppression, and empowers students to see themselves as change agents.”