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Critical Race Theory explained as a professor, lawmaker weigh in

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 5:03 PM EDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic concept that is over 40 years old which is typically taught in law schools. Recently, the theory has become a contentious topic among lawmakers, parents and some educators.

“It’s been brought up more in the media. You know, if you use that term to people six months ago or a year ago, they wouldn’t know what is that? Because it’s basically taught in law schools,” said Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow.

In Kentucky, two proposed bills for the 2022 General Assembly would ban the teaching of CRT.

RELATED: Critical race theory expected to drive conversations, legislation in 2022 session

Rep. Matt Lockett, R-Nicholasville, the main sponsor of one of the bills, says it would ban teaching CRT in Kentucky’s public schools, K-12, along with public universities and colleges.

Dr. Andrew Rosa, the Director of African American Studies at WKU, explains what CRT is not.

“Learning about slavery is not Critical Race Theory, right? Learning about slavery is learning about America,” expressed Rosa.

He says CRT teaches that race is a social construct, and how some systems were implemented on racist foundations.

“Critical Race Theory forces us to appreciate important intersections about how law, how policy, have been implemented and devised and implemented to disadvantage people,” said Rosa.

Those who understand the concept claim the theory is being oversimplified in current conversations.

“What I think is important is that the way it’s being discussed, has nothing to do with what critical race theory actually is,” said Rosa.

CRT is typically taught in law schools, but some have expressed concerns if the curriculum was brought over into public education in Kentucky.

“Critical Race Theory has never been used anywhere in the country to shape the development of K through 12 curricula, but yet it’s being presented as something that is threatening public education,” said Rosa.

Rep. Riley, the Vice-Chair on the Education Committee, says he would be concerned if CRT was brought into public classrooms.

“Is this age-appropriate? Is this something that should be just discussed in law school classes, or does it need to be expanded?” he asked. “I think a lot of people are concerned about that being expanded into young people before they have a chance to critically think about what that involves.”

Riley adds additional concern regarding the way in which CRT is taught.

“I think the concerns that many people have about Critical Race Theory is-- are young people being made to feel like they’re to blame for racial issues?” expressed Riley.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rosa saying the theory itself is beyond the conversations being had by lawmakers, parents and others.

“What I’m really wary of, is the hyperbolic oversimplification generalized kind of discussion of critical race theory, in an area of education that it doesn’t exist.”

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