UCLA creates database to ‘track attacks on critical race theory’
Professors at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law have created a database to identify and record efforts to block critical race theory (CRT) taught in schools nationwide.
The databasecalled CRT Forward Tracking Project, allows users to “track attacks on critical race theory” and filter information as part of an effort to “support anti-racist education, training and research”, depending on the school.
The project was created by UCLA’s Critical Race Studies program, founded in 2000 as the nation’s first law school program dedicated to critical race theory.
CRT, according to the school, is “the study of systemic racism in law, politics and society” and suggests that efforts should be made to redress these alleged injustices.
Meanwhile, critics say CRT is pushing a controversial worldview tied to Marxism that analyzes all aspects of life through a racial lens rather than through the concept of class struggle.
UCLA Law announced earlier this month that it would track anti-CRT activity via the database at all levels of government across the country.
“The project was created to help people understand the scale of attacks on the ability to speak honestly about race and racism through campaigns against CRT,” said Taifha Natalee Alexander, Project Director of CRT Forward. , in a press release.
The database analyzes these efforts to determine where activity is taking place and how opponents are taking action, such as protesting the curriculum at the school board level.
This also includes the type of restricted CRT content, such as a course taught in a public school, as well as the institution or target group and enforcement mechanisms used to regulate the content.
For example, the Placentia-Yorba Linda School Board voted to ban CRT instruction in classrooms last April, ending months of debate in the Orange County district.
Ahead of the close 3-2 vote, ban supporters claimed the CRT is a divisive ideology that drives a political narrative. Other administrators at the April 5 school board meeting, however, claimed such efforts amounted to censorship, according to public comments.
The UCLA program says many who object to these concepts being taught in K-12 schools are using the term CRT “incorrectly” and have “affected plans to include ethnic studies more broadly for students before they don’t make it to university”.
In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation making ethnic studies a statewide requirement for high school graduation beginning in the 2029–30 school year, amid of a debate between parents and teachers about whether the ethnic studies curriculum includes elements of CRT.
As of August 2, the UCLA database has reviewed nearly 24,000 news articles and identified 479 cases of anti-CRT activity since August 2021.
The database team found that anti-CRT activity is “much more widespread and widespread than generally reported,” according to the school, with such policies proposed or adopted in 49 states.
The project also found that most anti-CRT proposals have taken place in Florida, Virginia, Missouri and the U.S. Congress, while local school board actions account for more than 20% of activity in the base of data.
Most of these school board-level measures have been introduced in California, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia, with Californians adopting five of the eight proposed measures.
The study also found that the most common anti-CRT enforcement actions include withholding funding or imposing fines on teachers, administrators, schools, and districts for s be engaged in “prohibited conduct”, according to the school.
Noah Zatz, faculty director of UCLA Law’s Critical Race Studies program, helps lead the follow-up project. CRT Forward’s staff also includes law librarians and research assistants from undergraduate and law schools.
“We need critical race theory to understand this assault on racial justice, where even naming structural racism is portrayed as unfair to white people. And we need CRT to develop legal theories of education and free speech that not only mitigate these attacks, but put anti-racism at the center of a democratic society,” Zatz said in a statement.
However, opponents argue that CRT is unnecessary and does not teach hard history, but rather is an approach to analyzing that history with the intent of dismantling modern systems that supporters claim are white supremacy.
“Those upset with the proposed bans on CRT in our schools have been misled into thinking that states that have banned the teaching of CRT will no longer teach Jim Crow laws, Native American displacement or even the slavery in America. It’s just not true,” according to a CRT guide written by former California professor Kali Fontanilla. “On the contrary, banning CRT will remove a dangerous twist and rewrite of American history.”
The UCLA project is funded by a $400,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation with about $1.4 billion in assets, according to the nonprofit organization’s website.