College launches '1776' Curriculum to Counter Critical Race Theory

In response to the push toward Critical Race Theory by many schools and universities, the private, conservative Hillsdale College has released a K-12 curriculum aimed at teaching what college officials describe as "a more patriotic approach to American history."

Since its launch late last month, the college's new "1776 Curriculum," as it's named, has been downloaded more than 26,000 times, according to Dr. Kathleen O'Toole, assistant provost for K-12 education at Hillsdale.

The educational program covers American history, including the nation's founding, the Civil War era and other topics related to civics and government. Its creators, who include teachers and professors, say it's designed to depart from The New York Times' 1619 Project, which reframes the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of the national narrative.

"The inspiration for this curriculum springs from a since admiration and respect for America's founders and the principles they expressed so beautifully in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence—the recognition that all men are created equal, that our natural rights pre-exist government, and that governments are formed to protect the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of all citizens," O'Toole told Newsweek. "This curriculum seeks to tell the entire grand narrative of the American story—the promises, the perils, the tragedies, and triumphs."

Hillsdale College outdoor civil war sculpture
School officials said the 1776 curriculum offers nearly 2,600 pages of materials that cover American history, including the nation's founding, the Civil War era and other topics related to civics and government. A scene of an outdoor civil war sculpture at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. Hillsdale College

The curriculum offers nearly 2,400 pages of materials, broken down into grade-specific lessons and includes comprehensive lesson plans, homework assignments, quizzes, tests, study guides, and supplementary primary and secondary resource recommendations for teacher and student use.

O'Toole said it highlights both the moments when the United States has fallen short of its founding principles and when it's nobly met them.

"It's an unabashed, candid look at the fullness of American history, rather than cherry-picking a story to tell students," said O'Toole, noting that before the year is out, the curriculum will expand to include the entirety of American history, including units on Colonial America, the Early Republic, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the Great Depression, the World Wars, the Cold War, and Modern America. "The curriculum represents a culmination of decades of forming and honing curriculum at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale Academy, and its dozens of associated K-12 charter schools.

Founded in 1844 by abolitionists known as Free Will Baptists, Hillsdale College is a liberal arts college located in Hillsdale, Michigan. Its curriculum is based on the Western heritage as a product of both the Greco-Roman culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition.

The curriculum's release comes as the debate over and push by many school districts and universities to incorporate Critical Race Theory continues.

Just last week the Colorado Springs School District 49's school board in Colorado banned CRT from being taught in its schools while the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District in California's Central Coast also banned it.

That's while others embrace CRT and some educators endorse the 1619 Project, which has gained popularity at some schools as a movement toward more race-based education. While Newsweek reached out to Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her work on the 1619 Project, she did not respond by the time of publication.