52 minutes | Aug 6, 2021

The Long Arm of the Law

In this second episode of Ed Trust’s new podcast, EdTrusted, Ed Trust’s writer-in-residence Karin Chenoweth and director of practice Tanji Reed Marshall, Ph.D. talk about state legislation seeking to limit what is taught in classrooms with ACLU staff attorney Emerson Sykes and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University Dr. Matthew Shaw. According to an analysis by Education Week, roughly half of the states have moved in some way to limit what teachers can teach in the classroom. Some specifically mention critical race theory as something to be forbidden. Others specify how teachers should talk about “meritocracy” and prohibit teachers from causing “discomfort” in their students. Because most of the bills are so “goofily” written, Shaw says, they lend themselves to challenges, particularly on First Amendment grounds. Courts, Shaw and Sykes said, do not look kindly on attempts to prohibit words and limit “discursive freedom.” These issues make the laws ripe for legal challenge by the ACLU and other organizations, Sykes said, but the attack on what is being called critical race theory has activated a massive grassroots campaign. “This movement is a backlash,” said Sykes. “It’s a backlash against the proliferation of anti-racist education and anti-racist discourse in the United States.” Sykes and Shaw help listeners understand the laws that are being proposed and passed in states throughout the country and what the challenges might be to them. EdTrusted is a new podcast from The Education Trust, a national education advocacy organization that works to improve educational opportunities for all children, no matter what their background. In this podcast we will be bringing listeners thoughtful conversations about a wide range of issues. In this first season, we’re tackling a puzzling phenomenon, and that is the accusation that our schools have been suddenly taken over by an ideology dedicated to fostering racial division and making White children feel bad. Many educators have been—understandably—surprised by the accusation that they are trying to harm children and indoctrinate them with what Fox News has called an “anti-white mania.” In this first season examining “The Critical Race Theory That’s Sweeping the Nation,” we hope to provide educators and others with information that they can use to evaluate the attempt to paint teachers as trying to indoctrinate students.
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