Poll: Nearly half of Republicans oppose teaching the 'history of racism' in schools

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Eight-four percent of Republicans do not support teaching “critical race theory” in schools, while just 46% oppose teaching the “history of racism,” according to a new Monmouth University poll.

Background: Former President Donald Trump and other Republican senators have publicly expressed disapproval over efforts to include critical race theory in schools’ curriculums over the last year.

  • In a recent explainer, the Associated Press defined critical race theory (CRT) as “a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism.” It has been developed by scholars following the Civil Rights Movement as a means of understanding racism as a series of systemic issues.

  • At least 25 states are currently trying to limit the way race and racism is taught in schools, according to Education Weekly.

  • In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott passed legislation that prevents teachers from including 10 concepts in their curriculum, including the advent of slavery. More recently, Abbott began a crackdown on 800 “inappropriate” books, many of which are about race, gender identity and sexual orientation, requiring schools to account for how any books on the list may have come into their possession.

  • Earlier this year, Florida’s education board ruled that mandating critical race theory education would violate state standards, following which, GOP senators introduced a bill in May that prohibits the requirement of training “which espouses certain concepts” for educators, including critical race theory.

New Poll: In a November poll published by Monmouth University’s Polling Institute, which examined public response to Biden’s performance, results revealed that people’s perceptions were based more on message framing than the policies or proposals themselves, including those related to implementing race education.

  • Half of study participants were asked if they approved of teaching “the history of racism” in public schools, whereas the other half was asked whether they approved of “critical race theory” education.

  • The poll found that while 75% of respondents (94% of Democrats, 75% of Independents, and 54% of Republicans) approved of the former, only 43% approved when it was framed as “critical race theory” (75% of Democrats, 40% of Independents, and 16% of Republicans).

  • Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the results of the study show how the general public acts on its perceptions of the world around them: “Sometimes those perceptions align with objective reality and sometimes they do not. Whoever controls the message controls how the public will react. As the huge differences in the poll questions on teaching race show, a negative visceral message can be very powerful in reframing an issue in the public's mind.”

  • Among the one half of the poll sample that was asked about teaching “the history of racism” in public schools, 75% approved – including majorities of Democrats (94%), independents (75%) and Republicans (54%). The other half of the sample that was asked about teaching “critical race theory” in public schools produced only 43% support overall – ranging from 75% of Democrats to 40% of independents and 16% of Republicans.

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