Many elements of the progressive agenda probably contributed to voter rejection of the Democratic candidate in the recent Virginia gubernatorial election. However, one issue in particular appears to have been a deciding factor in the stunning Republican win: who should direct and what should be contained in children’s education?

Since the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, the country has been consumed with discussion and action related to race. One manifestation of this preoccupation has been the implementation in grade schools of instruction and trainings in critical race theory (CRT). Virginia parents have fought back, and for good reason.

As Althea Nagai writes in a paper released today, CRT is not “merely an academic field taught in law schools,” as its defenders claim. Instead, CRT seeks “revolutionary” ends where “colorblindness and equal treatment under the law” are disparaged. Taken to its logical extreme, CRT demands that the disparate impact of law and policy be addressed by racial quotas. In this vein, Nagai writes, “CRT scholars argue that colorblindness and equal protections ‘protect unequally’ because [t]he mainstream doctrine of equal protection places limits on the use of race as a corrective measure.”

Some journalists and investigators have uncovered examples of how grade schools have stealthily implemented objectionable CRT trainings. These investigations have been necessary because some schools and teachers have outright hidden curricula from parents or have required contracts similar to nondisclosure agreements for parents to view them.

Examples these sleuths have uncovered include demanding students be divided into groups based on their race. Other CRT trainings have required students to rank themselves according to “power and privilege” based on their race. Still others have demanded teachers recognize their whiteness and how it “spirt-murders” black children. Some claim that demanding mathematical excellence and “getting to the right answer” is covert white supremacy. Much of this investigation and journalism has been accomplished by Christopher Rufo.

Commentators will debate for some time whether the outcome of the Virginia race was influenced more by McAuliffe’s flippant attitude toward parents’ fundamental right to direct their child’s education or the radical progressive effort to teach children to see race in every aspect of their lives as CRT prescribes. One can certainly expect this point to be addressed by experts on the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention panel entitled Classrooms, Curricula, and the Law, which will take place Friday, November 12 at 11:30 a.m. EST.


Note from the Editor: The Federalist Society takes no positions on particular legal and public policy matters. Any expressions of opinion are those of the author. We welcome responses to the views presented here. To join the debate, please email us at [email protected].