Similar efforts have taken place in state legislatures across the country, from Idaho to Missouri to Rhode Island, as Republicans have sought to limit the way race and racism are taught in public schools. They focused specifically on the theory of critical race, an academic movement that argues that historical models of discrimination have created race-based flaws that continue to exist today in modern systems of government.
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During his first day in office, Mr. Biden signed an executive order stating that the federal government must “follow a comprehensive approach to achieving equality for all, especially people of color,” who have historically been underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. “
“Our country is facing converging economic, health and climate crises that have exposed and exacerbated inequalities, while a historical justice movement has highlighted the unbearable human costs of systemic racism,” Mr Biden wrote in the order.
The rule proposed by the administration, protested by Mr. McConnell and others, does not require any changes in the curriculum. Instead, it sets priorities for federal competitions or grant programs that schools can choose to apply for initiatives that “take into account systemic marginalization, bias, inequality, and discriminatory policies and practices in American history.” In addition to quoting Project 1619, the rule cites the work of Ibram X. Candy, author of How to Be Anti-Racist.
“It is critical that the teaching of American history and civic disciplines create a learning experience that affirms and reflects the diversity, identity, history, contribution, and experience of all students,” it said.
In their letter, Mr. McConnell and other Republicans condemned the focus.
“The youth of our nation does not need activist indoctrination, which focuses only on past shortcomings and divides our nation into divided camps,” they wrote. “Taxpayer-backed programs should emphasize the shared civic virtues that bring us together, not pursue radical programs that tear us apart.”
They also argue that the 1619 project “became scandalous in placing uninformed advocacy before historical accuracy” and that “citing this debunked advocacy confirms that your proposed priorities will not focus on critical thinking or accurate history, and on spoon-feeding students a slanted story. “