McConnell Attacks Biden Rule’s Antiracism Focus, Calling It ‘Divisive’

Similar efforts have played out in state legislatures across the country, from Idaho to Missouri to Rhode Island, as Republicans have sought to restrict how issues of race and racism are taught in public schools. They have taken aim specifically at critical race theory, an academic movement that posits that historical patterns of discrimination have created race-based disadvantages that persist today in modern systems of power.

On his first day in office, Mr. Biden signed an executive order asserting that the federal government should “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all,” especially people of color “who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

“Our country faces converging economic, health and climate crises that have exposed and exacerbated inequities, while a historic movement for justice has highlighted the unbearable human costs of systemic racism,” Mr. Biden wrote in the order.

The administration’s proposed rule protested by Mr. McConnell and others does not mandate any curriculum changes. Instead, it lays out priorities for federal competitions or grant programs to which schools could elect to apply for initiatives that “take into account systemic marginalization, biases, inequities and discriminatory policy and practice in American history.” In addition to citing the 1619 Project, the rule quotes the work of Ibram X. Kendi, the author of the book “How to Be an Antiracist.”

“It is critical that the teaching of American history and civics creates learning experiences that validate and reflect the diversity, identities, histories, contributions and experiences of all students,” it states.

In their letter, Mr. McConnell and the other Republicans denounced the focus.

“Our nation’s youth do not need activist indoctrination that fixates solely on past flaws and splits our nation into divided camps,” they wrote. “Taxpayer-supported programs should emphasize the shared civic virtues that bring us together, not push radical agendas that tear us apart.”

They also argued that the 1619 Project “has become infamous for putting ill-informed advocacy ahead of historical accuracy,” and that “citing this debunked advocacy confirms that your proposed priorities would not focus on critical thinking or accurate history, but on spoon-feeding students a slanted story.”

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