California has adopted many aspects of CRT at all levels of education. In March 2021, the state Board of Education passed an ethnic studies curriculum based in large part on CRT that applies to all public schools. It also mandates anti-Zionism, which many critics cite as explicitly anti-Semitic. Meanwhile, many public and private institutes of higher learning in California could properly be categorized as testing grounds for Critical Race Theory and pushing it further into the mainstream. USC has a social justice network and model strategic plan for colleges and universities around the country; Stanford is a bastion from which all aspects of Critical Theory emanate, as well as Cal Berkeley. 

Primary Education

In March, the California Board of Education adopted the long-anticipated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC):

As Tammi Benjamin of the California-based non-profit AMCHA Initiative has argued, the curriculum’s entire agenda—rooted in the neo-Marxist framework known as Critical Theory—is less about fostering children’s critical thinking skills and more about pushing children to become social justice activists.

In a recent article, journalist Christopher Rufo noted of even the most recent ESMC version:

In theoretical terms, the new ethnic studies curriculum is based on the “pedagogy of the oppressed,” developed by Marxist theoretician Paolo Freire, who argued that students must be educated about their oppression in order to attain “critical consciousness” and, consequently, develop the capacity to overthrow their oppressors. Following this dialectic, the model curriculum instructs teachers to help students “challenge racist, bigoted, discriminatory, imperialist/colonial beliefs” and critique “white supremacy, racism and other forms of power and oppression.” This approach, in turn, enables teachers to inspire their pupils to participate in “social movements that struggle for social justice” and “build new possibilities for a post-racist, post-systemic racism society.” (source: https://legalinsurrection.com/2021/03/critical-race-based-california-ethnic-studies-curriculum-passes-state-board-of-education-vote/)

In October 2021, the California Assembly codified the ethnic studies requirement for graduation into statute. (source: https://thefederalist.com/2021/10/14/critical-race-theory-wins-big-with-californias-new-graduation-requirements/)

In the summer of 2021, the California School Board Association published a FAQ document to define and defend CRT in the face of national criticism.

CRT emphasizes race as a social construct with social significance, not a biological reality. It acknowledges that racism is embedded within systems and institutions that replicate racial inequality — codified in law, embedded in structures, and woven into public policy. (source: http://blog.csba.org/faqs-critical-race-theory/)

Higher Education

Governor Gavin Newsom has directed the Governor’s Council for Post-Secondary Education to “recover [from the pandemic] with equity,” using reopening after COVID-19 lockdowns as opportunities to implement even more radical equity policies on college campuses throughout the state. (source: https://www.capostsecondaryforall.org/initiatives/recovery-with-equity/)

The September 2020 meeting of the University of California Board of Regents, Academic and Student Affairs Committee, began with a statement from the provost:

Provost Brown stated that there were attempts by those in government to disparage nationwide protests in the wake of the wrongful public murder of George Floyd. Each of UC’s ten campuses has issued a statement condemning anti-black racism. In response to calls to create intentional and unified anti-racist communities at the University, campuses have created anti-racism task forces and launched initiatives to address racial trauma, educate on the legacy of racism and systematic oppression of African Americans, and build skills to interrupt and end racist behaviors and actions. UC has created a systemwide website of anti-racism resources that Mr. Brown would share with the Regents. (source: https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/minutes-index/index.html)

The California Community College System has created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task force. (source: https://www.cccco.edu/About-Us/Vision-for-Success/diversity-equity-inclusion)

As the largest and most diverse system of higher education in the country, we have a tremendous opportunity to improve the lives of millions by breaking down existing barriers to equity. By building a faculty and staff that look like the students and communities we serve and committing fully to putting   diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and anti-racism at the heart of our work, we can — and will — take a giant leap toward being a system that truly works for all our students.

Every person within the California Community College’s system has a crucial role to play in creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.  From the Vision for Success to Guided Pathways, we are continuing to build a better, more inclusive learning environment for students from all backgrounds through actions both big and small.