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Discussing Race and Racism in Public K-12 Schools

January 14, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Brittany Whitley and Dr. Alan Moss

Several Missouri bills (HB 1457, HB 1474, HB 1634, HB 1815, HB 1835, SB 638, SB 694) proposed during the 2022 legislative session include text that would prohibit schools from teaching “curriculum implementing critical race theory” and/or teaching “divisive concepts.” While the definitions of restricted practices vary between bills, the common intent is to bar schools from using characteristics such as race, gender, income, sexual orientation, religion, or ancestry to classify people into groups to discuss identity, establish stereotypes and assign blame to individuals.  


  • Public school educators may currently discuss race and racism as part of teacher training and in order to meet specific state learning standards.
  • Several organizations (e.g., 1619 Project, Learning for Justice, We Stories, Education Equity Consultants) offer additional resources to assist educators in discussions about racism and American history.
  • Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework used, originally by legal scholars, to describe the relationships between race, racism, and power. CRT is predominantly taught and studied during graduate school.
  • Eight states (IA, ID, ND, NH, OK, SC, TN, TXA/B) passed bills in 2021 that restrict schools from teaching critical race theory, and five others (AL, FL, GA, MT, UT) have used other state-level action (e.g., State Board of Education decisions) to achieve similar outcomes. 


This Note has been updated. You can access the previous version (published June 2021) here.

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