Social-Justice Curricula Having Measurable Impact on Students, Study Finds

Both critical race theory and radical gender ideology are widespread in American schools and are measurably shifting students to the political left, according to a Manhattan Institute report released Thursday.

Based on a survey of more than 1,500 Americans aged 18-20, the report seeks to inject hard data into a cultural debate often fought with anecdotal evidence. In the last five years, right-leaning activists, politicians, and educators have increasingly raised the alarm about curricula changes in schools.

Researchers Zach Goldberg and Eric Kaufmann decided to put questions to a random sample of students who recently graduated from high school and can recollect their recent school experiences. This allowed them to estimate the extent to which these ideologies have affected American education as a whole.

The first step was to ask respondents whether they had been exposed to fundamental concepts of these ideologies in school. “There are many genders, not just male and female,” read one of the concepts. “In America, white people have white privilege,” read another. “America is built on stolen land,” read a third.

Goldberg and Kaufmann discovered that students had heard about at least one of eight concepts from a teacher or other adult at school. Ninety percent heard about at least one CRT concept, and 74 percent heard about at least one radical gender concept.

Only a third — 32 percent — of students were taught that there are respectable counterarguments to CRT and radical gender ideology.

“Educators who incorporate such concepts into their instruction clearly expect, or at least hope, that doing so makes a difference in the minds of students,” explained Goldberg and Kaufmann, adding that the idea these concepts are only taught for knowledge’s sake strains credulity.

Students taught one or more of these concepts were more likely to agree with them. They also adopted policy attitudes in line with these concepts to a greater extent. For instance, support for preferential hiring and promotion of black people increases from 17 percent among those who were not exposed to CRT in school to 44 percent among those exposed to the maximum of five CRT concepts.

The instruction of these concepts has influenced students’ political affiliation as well, with many shifting to the left. This is the case even if they have Republican parents and live in solidly Republican counties.

Those exposed to none of these concepts break 20 percent Democratic to 27 percent Republican, while those who have been taught six-to-eight concepts break 44-to-53 percent Democratic (based on the number of concepts) to 7 percent Republican.

Thirty-eight percent of those who were not taught CRT and radical gender ideology reported that they were afraid of being punished, shamed, or expelled for voicing opinions on controversial subjects. This rose to between 62 percent and 68 percent among those taught at least two of these concepts. Among Republican young people, fear levels jump from 31 percent to 74 percent after exposure to these ideologies.

A conclusion the pair came to is that focusing on school choice alone is ineffective.

“School choice may allow a small number of highly informed and committed parents to insulate their children from [these ideologies], but it will make little difference to the level of indoctrination in the American school-age population,” read the report.

The pair also set out a series of policy recommendations for stakeholders.

“State governments must seek to intervene in the public-school curriculum, such as banning the teaching of CRT and radical gender theory as truth, clamping down on political indoctrination, and requiring teaching materials to be made available upon request,” the recommendation read.

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