What is Critical Race Theory in Education?

Critical Race Theory in Education is a framework for understanding and addressing the disparities in education that exist along racial lines. By critically examining the ways that race and racism impact education, we can begin to create more equitable and just schools for all students.

Checkout this video:

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race theory is an approach to understanding race and racism that challenges traditional assumptions and approaches. It is based on the belief that race is a socially constructed concept that has been used to oppress and advantage certain groups of people. CRT has been used in education to examine issues such as school segregation, tracking, and the achievement gap.

A brief history of Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a movement within social and legal scholarship that developed in the 1970s as a response to what its scholars saw as persistent inequality in education, employment, housing, and other areas of American life, despite the formal abolition of Jim Crow laws and the gains of the Civil Rights Movement.

CRT scholars began to explore how racism has operated not only through explicit discrimination but also through more subtle means such as implicit bias, stereotype threat, and educational tracking. They also critiqued traditional civil rights strategies that they saw as too narrowly focused on individual rights and colorblindness, without attention to the structural factors that continue to produce racial inequality.

In recent years, CRT has begun to gain traction beyond academia, with its ideas being applied in fields such as education, law, medicine, and business. CRT has also been critiqued for its lack of attention to class and for what some see as its overly pessimistic view of race relations in America.

The key tenets of Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a theoretical framework that examines race, racism, and power in society. It was developed in the 1970s by legal scholars who were concerned about the lack of diversity in the legal profession and the continued discrimination against people of color.

Over time, CRT has evolved to become a multi-disciplinary approach that can be used to examine a wide range of issue areas, including education. The key tenets of CRT are:
-Racism is normal and entrenched in all aspects of society
-Racial groups are not monolithic; there is considerable intra-racial diversity
-Race is socially constructed; it does not have a biological basis
-Whiteness is the norm against which all other racial groups are measured
-People of color experience discrimination and oppression on a daily basis
-Racism can take both intentional and unintentional forms
-Racial inequality is perpetuated by institutional policies and practices

How is Critical Race Theory used in Education?

Critical Race Theory (CRT) in education is the study of how race and racism affect educational opportunities, experiences, and outcomes. It is also the examination of how race and racism are reproduced in education. CRT in education is used to challenge and change the dominant narratives about race and racism.

Critical Race Theory and the achievement gap

In the United States, education has long been viewed as a ladder of opportunity, a means to level the playing field and provide disadvantaged children with the skills they need to succeed in life. But for generations, poor and minority children have been left behind, trapped in failing schools with little chance of escaping the cycle of poverty.

The achievement gap between rich and poor students is one of the most – if not the most – pressing issues facing education today. And while there are many factors that contribute to this disparity, one theory that has gained traction in recent years is critical race theory.

Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework for understanding and addressing inequality that examines the role that race plays in society – specifically, how race-based laws and policies advantage some groups while discriminating against others.

CRT scholars argue that racism is embedded in every aspect of American society – including education. And while overt discrimination may have declined in recent years, they say that subtle forms of racism are still very much alive and well.

One example of this is what’s known as “tracking.” This is when students are sorted into different classes based on their test scores or other measures of ability. Critics say that tracking effectively segregates students by race and socioeconomic status, creating an invisible line between those who are likely to succeed and those who are not.

There is a growing body of research that supports the claim that tracking contributes to the achievement gap. A study published in 2016, for example, found that tracking had a “significant negative effect” on black and Hispanic students’ math achievement. Other studies have shown that tracking leads to higher rates of dropout and lower rates of college enrollment for disadvantaged students.

CRT scholars say that addressing the achievement gap will require more than just improving individual schools; it will require systemic change at the district, state, and national level. They argue for policies like increasing funding for high-poverty schools, diversifying curricula to include more representation of minorities, and eliminating tracking programs altogether.

Critical Race Theory and teacher education

Critical race theory (CRT) has been used as a framework to understand and address systemic racism in education. CRT scholars have critiqued the ways that traditional education research and policy perpetuate inequality, and they have proposed alternative ways of thinking about and approaching education.

CRT scholars have been particularly concerned with the ways that racism is embedded in education institutions and systems. They have critiqued the ways that schools reproduce racial hierarchy and white supremacy, and they have proposed more equitable alternatives. CRT scholars have also made important contributions to our understanding of how racism intersects with other forms of oppression, such as sexism, homophobia, and ableism.

Teacher educators can use CRT to examine the ways that racism is reproduced in their own practices and in the field of education more broadly. They can also use CRT to design more equitable teacher education programs and pedagogies.

Critical Race Theory and curriculum development

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been used in education to examine how race and racism are reproduced in curriculum, teaching, and learning. CRT scholars have argued that the traditional canon of western literature, history, and social science is Eurocentric and marginalizes the experiences and perspectives of people of color. CRT scholars have also critiqued standardized testing and tracking practices, which they argue disproportionately harm students of color.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using CRT to develop more equitable and inclusive curriculum. CRT-based approaches to curriculum development focus on identifying and disrupting patterns of racism in what is taught in schools. These approaches also emphasize the importance of representing the experiences and perspectives of people of color in curriculum.

Scroll to Top