Phillips disingenuously claims schools aren’t teaching critical race theory

Phillips' remarks fly in the face of what is happening in his own backyard.

Rep. Dean Phillips/Facebook

Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota recently claimed that public schools do not teach critical race theory (CRT).

The congressman’s remarks appeared in a CNN article on the Democratic response to last week’s election defeats and the extent to which the GOP was successful on “culture war” issues, especially in the Virginia gubernatorial race where Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin defeated former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Most Democratic strategists and politicians are simultaneously lamenting their party’s lack of a coherent message and blaming Republicans for mischaracterizing or lying about CRT — including Phillips.

“I’m saddened by the fact that we aren’t able to generate a narrative that is more truthful about what’s going on, because critical race theory is not taught in elementary schools or high schools,” he told CNN. “And it’s time that we start articulating that a little better.”

The concept of critical race theory first sprung up in academia, and in its most proper sense refers to a method of analyzing the world, more specifically the United States, through the study of power structures and racial oppression.

CRT proponents allege that racism is an integral feature of Western power structures. Generally speaking, they understand race to be a social construct used by whites to justify oppression of minorities and believe that disparate outcomes which favor whites over minorities are evidence of racism.

In light of this, Phillips’ remarks are disingenuous. For one, they imply that public school teachers are defining and teaching CRT in a systematic, academic manner. But zero Republicans assert this. Rather, they claim CRT permeates school curricula and the lesson plans of teachers who were implicitly trained to understand the world through its lens.

Phillips’ remarks also fly in the face of what is happening in his own backyard.

Alpha News has long covered the intrusion of CRT within Minnesota school districts and classrooms. In June, around 80 Minnesota teachers signed a national pledge to teach how “the major institutions and systems of our country are deeply infected with anti-Blackness and its intersection with other forms of oppression.”

Then in July, Owatonna High School offered an elective class explicitly titled “Introduction to Critical Race Theory,” a social studies teacher at Forest Lake Area High School wrote an op-ed defending CRT as “liberating,” and Minneapolis Public Schools cited CRT as the “framework” for a new ethnic studies requirement.

What’s more, Phillips’ own campaign website, as noted by Fox News, includes a webpage on “Racial Justice Allyship.”

“In order to realize racial justice, it’s critically important that we first understanding our nation’s long history of racial discrimination, targeted disenfranchisement, and de facto laws that originated during times of slavery and the Jim Crow era — and that still exist in many of our institutions today,” the webpage reads.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.