- Gary Houchens, PhD
School choice is the ultimate answer to critical race theory in education
The national controversy over critical race theory (CRT) and how it is presented in K-12 schools has come to Kentucky. Rep. Joseph Fischer has introduced a bill that would ban key components of CRT from being taught in Kentucky schools. I joined Rep. Fischer on a recent episode of KET's Kentucky Tonight to talk about the bill, and I've written extensively about why parents and taxpayers should be legitimately concerned about CRT and its place in elementary and secondary schools.
The problem is not so much that CRT is being taught. It's that some of the key assumptions of CRT are being regarded by educators as facts and that the lens of CRT is shaping the way they select instructional materials and how they are being presented in classrooms.
These problematic assumptions include CRT's tendency to view every group outcome difference as the result of racism (with no other options permitted to be considered), to reduce individuals to their membership in racial or social groups and assign oppressor or victim status accordingly, and to view every institution of American society - in fact to view the entire American experiment - as irredeemably racist.
In Kentucky, School-Based Decision-Making Councils - which are largely unaccountable to the general public - have sole power to decide about curriculum and instruction. If an SBDM Council wants to adopt a controversial curriculum over widespread public opposition, there is virtually nothing that can be done.
That's why Rep. Fischer's bill has started a necessary conversation about CRT, but that conversation can't simply end with banning certain concepts from being taught in schools. Until schools face the ultimate accountability - which occurs only when parents have the right to choose a different school for their children - families and taxpayers are always going to be at the mercy of the education establishment.
Until Kentucky breaks the education monopoly by finally funding students - not systems - and allowing education dollars to follow every student to the school of their parents' choice, the battles over what does and doesn't get taught will rage on. Let's demand that lawmakers spend as much time creating new education options for students as they do fighting over what gets taught in government-run schools.