January 4, 2022

Should our public schools be shredding resumes from great teachers simply because the applicants are the wrong skin color or insufficiently political? Should states be given a green light to discriminate against students or staff on the basis of their race if the federal government tells them to?

The answer is an emphatic “NO.” A new initiative from the Goldwater Institute — the “Stop CRT and Racial Discrimination in Public Schools Act” — stops these unconstitutional practices. It offers states a model to defeat not only the toxic instruction of “critical race theory” (CRT), but also its influence in the admissions, hiring, and disciplinary decisions and overall treatment of students and teachers alike.

Public schools and universities across the nation face new pressure from the federal government to implement racially discriminatory programming and practices. Goldwater’s new law stands up for the Constitution of the United States and ensures that our government upholds the equal protection of the law—rejecting the radical, racially discriminatory practices of CRT that are now running rampant in our schools, often under more benign sounding slogans like “anti-racism” or “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI).

First, this act would stop dead in its tracks a new tactic being used to block aspiring teachers from serving in our schools unless they profess allegiance to a racialized political agenda. As the national journal Education Week recently reported, “school districts are increasingly asking teacher-candidates questions about cultural competency, race, and equity during the application and interview process”— questions that scholars note are functioning as “ideological litmus tests” and “loyalty oaths” to screen out insufficiently progressive candidates, including at one public university that used them in “reject[ing] 76 percent of qualified applicants without even considering their teaching skills” or “their potential for academic excellence.” 

Second, this act would bar public schools and universities from discriminating against students and teachers in admissions and hiring decisions due to their skin color. Several states already restrict public institutions from granting preferential treatment to applicants, employees, or students on account of their race or sex—having adopted model language pioneered by the American Civil Rights Institute. However, even in states with such protections, proponents of CRT and DEI seek to circumvent these safeguards by exploiting the exemptions that typically exist for federal contractors, which include many universities and institutions of public education.

Public records requests of a major Phoenix-area school system–the Scottsdale Unified School District–have revealed, for instance, the internal notes of the district’s “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.” Among the “recommended next steps” proposed among the participants:

“For the districts next steps would be looking at changing who they allow to hire on, by this I don’t mean take away the amazing staff that is already there but adding to it with diversity” [emphasis added].

In other words, in the name of diversity and inclusion, these public school district leaders would seek to forbid the hiring of new teachers whose skin color or other immutable demographic characteristics are deemed undesirable.

At the same time, recent executive action from Washington D.C. has called for supplanting the emphasis on “equal employment opportunity” within federal hiring and employment standards with a new approach centered around “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Regardless of the euphemisms employed by such efforts, however, the new Goldwater initiative would establish ironclad prohibitions against any tactics that call for privileging one set of students or teachers over another on the basis of skin color when it comes to hiring or admissions at state operated educational institutions.

The measure also establishes a series of additional protections, such as clarifying that students may not be excluded from multicultural or other on-campus spaces on account of their race, that students may not be treated differently in disciplinary actions on account of their race, and—building upon the work of Stanley Kurtz’s Partisanship Out of Civics Act—would prohibit teachers and staff members from using their position of authority over students or other employees to promote tenets of racial discrimination in training or instruction.

Americans, by wide majorities, reject the idea that government should treat applicants differently based upon skin color when making hiring or admissions decisions. Even in the ultra-progressive bastion of California, voters rejected by double digits in 2020 an effort to roll back the state’s ban on racial discrimination in public employment and education. The so-called progressive champions of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” behind the effort to dismantle those protections are of course out of step not only in California, but all the more so throughout America at large.

It is time that policymakers recognized this fact and took proactive steps to close the loopholes being exploited against state protections against racial discrimination and ensure that America’s students and teachers are never again evaluated based upon their race or rewarded for supporting a racially discriminatory ideology.

To learn more, read the full “Stop CRT and Racial Discrimination in Public Schools Act” here, or read about Goldwater’s proposal for academic transparency in K-12 schools here.

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