Did the Biden Administration Backtrack on Linking CRT in Schools to Federal Money?

The Biden administration proposed a rule called Proposed Priorities-American History and Civics Education in April to “support the development of culturally responsive teaching and learning and the promotion of information literacy skills in grants under these programs.”

Under the rule, the U.S. Department of Education would have prioritized the racially divisive critical race theory (CRT) and the flawed 1619 Project in a federal grant program.

According to CRT and anything similar under a different name, America and its founding institutions are racist, groups of people are inferior or superior to others based on race, ethnicity, sex, or religion, and individuals are inherently responsible for the actions their ancestors committed in the past. The 1619 Project is a series of New York Times magazine articles that claim America’s true founding was 1619 when the first slaves arrived, and not at the Declaration of Independence’s signing in 1776. The American Revolution, the researchers also claim, was fought to preserve slavery. The creator of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, won the Pulitzer Prize.

The Department of Education set a deadline of May 19, 2021 for the public to comment. The proposed rule received over 35,000 comments. Apparently after pressure from the public to bar such teachings from government schools, the agency backtracked. Or has it?

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote last week that the American History and Civics program “has not, does not, and will not dictate or recommend specific curriculum be introduced or taught in classrooms. Those decisions are – and will continue to be – made at the local level.”

Does this mean the federal government won’t award specific grants to government schools that teach this flawed, divisive, and anti-America version of history?

“Like invitational priorities in any grant competition, applicants are not required to address these priorities, and earn no additional points and gain no competitive advantage in the grant competition for addressing these priorities,” Cardona wrote. He added that the “first invitational priority encourages projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives into teaching and learning.”

Is this language merely restating the priority for awarding grants to schools that teach racially divisive theories? Quin Hillyer, writing at the Washington Examiner, said that this apparent change “should be unobjectionable, indeed praiseworthy. But that is assuming that bureaucrats administering the program don’t implement a backdoor, de facto test effectively meaning that the only ‘diverse perspectives’ acceptable are those that push racialism. (Congressional overseers and outside analysts should track the grants to guard against this.)”

The Daily Caller believes celebrating is premature, noting that the Biden administration “still appears to be promoting the concept to public schoolchildren.”

Cardona did not address, however, a part of the initial instruction that requires applicants for an American History and Civics Education grant to explain how their teaching “take[s] into account systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history; incorporate[s] racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives and perspectives on the experience of individuals with disabilities; [and] encourage[s] students to critically analyze the diverse perspectives of historical and contemporary media and its impacts.”

The Biden administration seems to be promoting CRT without using the term “critical race theory,” a backdoor, as Hillyer noted. Christopher Rufo, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow who’s leading the charge against CRT, declared victory, and Parents Defending Education applauded the Biden administration’s decision. In the meantime, watch and wait. We emphasize Hillyer’s statement:

Congressional overseers and outside analysts should track the grants to guard against this.

Photo credit: By w:User:CoolcaesarDOE, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

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