A new survey indicates that although many have not heard of critical race theory, a mere 1 in 10 teachers have a negative view of it, while three times as many teachers hold a positive view of the effort to institutionalize anti-white racism.
The Heritage Foundation’s report, first obtained by The Federalist, displays the survey responses of 1,003 teachers and 1,012 parents on questions of civics education and critical race theory. Braun Research conducted the survey from Dec. 30, 2020, to Feb. 2, 2021.
Findings show a majority of respondents held a neutral, positive, or unsure view of critical race theory. More than half of teachers who have heard of critical race theory approve of it. And despite the flood of media attention to the subject, more than one-third of teachers have not heard of critical race theory, with 40 percent of parents in the same boat. A little more than one-quarter of parents and teachers, respectively, were unsure if they had heard of critical race theory.
“Schools should recommit themselves to teaching history and civics that educates students on the duties of informed citizenship,” said Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at Heritage and one of the report’s co-authors. “They should also be maximally transparent to parents about the content taught between the four walls of the classroom. And most importantly, states should make sure every child can exercise education freedom, choosing a school or learning environment that is the right fit for them.”
Angela Sailor, another report coauthor who is vice president of Heritage’s Edwin J. Feulner Institute, said, “The next generation deserves strong partnerships between parents and teachers. This begins with curriculum transparency and policy solutions that protect the diversity of ideas in the classroom and restore a shared sense of equality under the law. All students no matter their race should be protected from being forced to affirm, adopt, or adhere to CRT through compelled speech and other practices.”
One-fourth of Republican parents said current civics curriculum should stay the same, while more than half of Democrat parents said more civics instruction is needed. Among Republican teachers, a little less than half said civics curriculum should stay the same and more than 70 percent of Democrats said there ought to be more.
It is important to keep in mind that the term “civics” has been convoluted by a surge in schools and theorists framing critical race theory curricula as “action civics” or similar terminology. The findings echo this, showing more than one-third of parents and more than one-fourth of teachers view critical race theory and critical pedagogy as part of an ideal curriculum.
Half of parents and close to 60 percent of teachers indicated critical race theory should be included in civics curriculum. The report notes it wasn’t clear if this response combined with the lack of knowledge about CRT indicates large numbers of people supported CRT in schools out of a desire to be “inclusive” without knowing what they were including.
The report alludes to the redefinition of civics, noting, “Americans’ education of their history and founding is in crisis as radical activists push anti-American philosophies on students under the guise of civics education.”
Parents of public school kids were less likely, 34.7 percent, to support critical race theory as the curriculum “focus” than parents of charter (48.7 percent) or private school kids (43.9 percent). Parents who homeschool their kids were found to be the least likely — about a quarter — to want a critical race theory focus.
“Given the overall lack of familiarity with the term, future surveys might do better to ask for reactions to specific tenets of CRT [critical race theory]. That said, the results do suggest that teachers are more positively inclined to CRT than parents,” Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told The Federalist. “This is entirely unsurprising. What this survey shows is that we are at the beginning of the battle, and that the outcome is far from evident. Educating parents on the true nature of CRT will be a key determinant of end-result.”
Other authors of the report are Anne Segal, founder of predictive market research group The Frontier Lab, and Adam Kissel, a senior fellow at the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia policy. There is a 95 percent confidence level in the survey findings.
Critical race “teachings are reversing the immense progress this country has made in race relations and equality, as well as stealing major parts of history from students, beginning with small children,” the report states. “Young Americans are taught not to be proud of their country, but to see it as an oppressor. In order to reverse this destructive and dangerous trend, it is essential that schools teach America’s founding principles, while at the same time build strong relationships between parents and teachers.”