Fact-Checkers Falsely State Florida Didn't Ban CRT, Again

August 24th, 2023 10:03 AM

The assortment of online fact-checkers really did not appreciate Republican presidential candidates criticizing Democrats’ extreme abortion policies during their Wednesday debate, but abortion wasn’t the only topic they incorrectly condemned the candidates on. The same cabal of self-appointed guardians of the truth also declared Critical Race Theory to be a made up issue that Republicans, specifically Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are using as a boogeyman.

Factcheck.org recalled, “DeSantis said schools need to focus on ‘solid academics’ rather than ‘indoctrination,’ and he boasted that ‘in Florida we eliminated critical race theory from our K through 12 schools.’ But as we wrote when DeSantis made a similar claim in a speech announcing his presidential bid, there wasn’t really anything to eliminate.”

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler outsourced his fact-checking responsibilities to PolitiFact:

Critical race theory refers to an academic framework centered on the idea that racism is systemic, and not just demonstrated by individual people with prejudices. It is generally taught in higher education, such as law or graduate school, not at lower grade levels. So this is a bit of an empty boast. Educators, school officials and several Florida public school districts told PolitiFact that critical race theory wasn’t taught in Florida’s elementary, middle or high schools.

PolitiFact rated DeSantis’s claim as “mostly false,” saying that at most the state under DeSantis “rejected prospective teaching materials in recent years that it claimed was related to CRT. But questions remain about its rationale in several cases.”

Kessler simply repeating what PolitiFact said is meant to give the impression of an objective, fact-based consensus, but in reality he just copied somebody else’s homework.

As for PolitiFact itself, it also recalled, “We rated a similar claim Mostly False. We found no evidence that critical race theory, a broad set of ideas about racism being woven into American systems, was being taught in Florida’s K-12 schools. Educators, school officials and several Florida public school districts told us that CRT has never been part of the state curriculum.”

NewsBusters’s debunking of that earlier PolitiFact rating can be found here

Like Kessler, PolitiFact and Factcheck.org both accuse DeSantis and Florida of not using the correct definition of CRT. PolitiFact writes, “questions remain about the state’s rationale and how it defines the theory and other prohibited topics.”  

Meanwhile, Factcheck.org claims, “Critical race theory started as an advanced legal theory taught at Harvard University in the 1980s by law professor Derrick Bell. It accepts that institutional racism exists and needs to be better understood in order to address racial inequality. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a Harvard law student at the time who is now a law professor at Columbia University, has been credited with coining the phrase “critical race theory”

They add, “UCLA education researchers wrote that critical race theory isn’t being taught in K-12 schools. They said the term ‘critical race theory’ has been co-opted by conservative activists who seek “to restrict or ‘ban’ curriculum, lessons, professional development, and district equity and diversity efforts addressing … race, racism, diversity, and inclusion.”

Even if CRT is not taught, it is reasonable for a state to want to preemptively guard against such ideologies. Additionally, teachers do not need to mandate students read Crenshaw or Bell for CRT to be present in K-12 schools. As they state themselves, CRT is about shoehorning “systemic racism” as the answer to why statistical disparities between racial groups exist and if that is taught then it is part of K-12 schools whether it is labeled CRT or something less politically toxic.