Critical race theory, or CRT, has become a Republican staple for publicity grabs and divisive campaign messaging. The discourse surrounding CRT has resulted in the demonization of educators and book bans, an interesting aim from the party that claims to protect free speech.
It would be prudent to spend a moment debunking Republican attacks on CRT. While the right-wing has turned CRT into a “dirty” concept, according to Education Week the simple definition is as follows: “The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.” CRT essentially provides the tools to root out racism in America, how can one take issue with that? It is an honorable display of patriotism to analyze America’s past and present faults and structural issues and decide to actively combat them, to want one’s country to be better.
It is evident that Senator Ted Cruz vehemently disagrees with that assessment. Cruz has spent the last year railing against CRT in schools, even once calling the theory “every bit as racist as the Klansmen in white sheets.” During Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s SCOTUS confirmation hearings, Cruz postured on the national stage by laughably reading from anti-racist children’s books and meaninglessly badgering Judge Jackson on her opinions on CRT, which have nothing to do with her qualifications to be a Supreme Court justice.
Ted Cruz’s vendetta against CRT should be seen for what it is: a useless political stunt with no real backing, merely a policy step-stool to reach a wider right-wing audience. Instead of spending valuable time attacking educators and making baseless claims about curriculum, Ted Cruz should be focusing on the diminishing state of public education in Texas.
While Ted Cruz grovels for national attention, educators in Texas are facing significant burnout, children are coping with the enormous learning loss from the pandemic, and the state of Texas is suffering through a teacher shortage.
During the pandemic, with the pitfalls of spotty internet access and online learning, many children were left behind education-wise. Teachers and educators faced significant challenges with online learning through the lockdown – challenges that were only made worse by the reality of putting their lives in danger when the government reopened the schools. The pandemic has caused a significant number of educators to suffer through burnout, leading to the mass exodus of teachers and the statewide teacher shortage, with a record number of teachers leaving classrooms.
Instead of focusing discourse on the real issues that face educators and children in Texas, Ted Cruz continues to use the CRT buzz word to bolster a national audience and play to right-wing interests. In ignoring the plight of the Texas education system, Cruz is demonstrably failing at his job to keep the basic wellbeing of Texans as his first priority, instead his topmost priority is how to get his next soundbite played on television.
Original photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons