Critical race theory, an idea that has prompted debate in recent years and that purports that racism is interwoven through virtually every aspect of American society, has taken another blow as many progressives seek a widespread implementation of its tenets.
A bill passed by the Idaho legislature seeks to block the controversial theory, which former President Donald Trump called “anti-American propaganda,” from being added to the curriculum of the state’s public schools at any level.
“Race essentialism” and “collective guilt”
On Monday, the GOP-led state House in Idaho advanced the bill with a party-line vote of 57-12, according to Breitbart. That vote was followed later the same afternoon by a 27-8 vote in favor of the bill’s passage by the Republican-controlled state Senate.
From that point, the legislation only required a signature from Republican Gov. Brad Little to become law, which he did on Wednesday.
Among the fierce critics of critical race theory is writer Chris Rufo, a school choice advocate who praised the Idaho bill as one that “would prohibit public schools from promoting race essentialism, collective guilt, and neo-segregation.”
The bill, HB 377, establishes that everyone in public schools, from administrators and faculty to students, should “respect the dignity of others, acknowledge the right of others to express differing opinions, and foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and instruction, and freedom of speech and association.”
Lawmakers further proclaimed that critical race theory’s teachings “undermine” that objective and “exacerbate and inflame division.” As such, the legislation called for a prohibition among all publicly funded schools against compelling students to “personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to” the core principles of the theory.
The bill went on to mention several of those ideas, including: “That any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior; That individuals should be adversely treated on the basis of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin; or that individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.”
Furthermore, the legislation prohibits the “distinction and classification” of students based on color or race as well as the use of public funds by schools in support of the purposes outlined above.
The Idaho Press labeled the measure “controversial,” highlighting opposition from Democrats, teachers, and even students, some of whom protested the bill at the state Capitol during the vote.
That paper also reported that legislators actually passed down a “much-watered-down version” of earlier proposals to ban critical race theory after a compromise was reached to achieve broader agreement on the education budget.
The Idaho Freedom Foundation, however, argued that the bill as passed does not go far enough because it allows lecturers, professors, and teachers to espouse otherwise prohibited views and could themselves be compelled by colleagues to personally adhere to and affirm the theory’s ideals in order to keep their jobs. The organization also noted that there were no real consequences enumerated for schools that violate the prohibition.