Even Republican and Private School Kids Are Being Taught CRT, Our Research Finds | Opinion

Nearly all American children encounter pseudoscientific concepts drawn from critical race and gender theory in school. These are the findings of our new Manhattan Institute report, The Impact of Critical Social Justice Ideology in American Schools, based on a national representative survey of 18 to 20 year-olds. And while school choice can help a small number of committed parents shield their children from these toxic ideas, the only way to protect the nation's children and prevent large-scale left-wing indoctrination is by reforming public schools.

In previous generations, an ebb and flow of radical ideas was par for the course of growing up. Americans would get liberal in college, and measurably less so as they got married and became homeowners. But that trend does not seem to be holding for millennials. And our research goes a long way toward explaining why.

We found that fully 92 percent of young Americans polled said they heard from a teacher or other adult in school about at least one far-Left concept stemming from critical social justice ideology—something about "white privilege" or "systemic racism" or the idea that gender is a choice unrelated to biological sex. Meanwhile nine in 10 young Americans were exposed to at least one critical race theory concept, while three in four were taught at least one radical gender idea.

It's clear from the data that these radical academic ideas have reached saturation point in American schools. Worse, in a clear majority of cases, current and former pupils said Critical Social Justice (CSJ) concepts were taught as indisputable facts. And there was not much difference between types of schools.

Our data found that young people who attended private school encountered the same level of CSJ instruction as those who went to public school. Even among individuals who were homeschooled or went to parochial schools, 86 percent said they heard at least one CSJ concept, not significantly different from the 93 percent exposure level in public or private school.

While private, parochial or homeschooled children are somewhat less likely to have been taught radical gender theory, the differences are modest. It is true that children of Republican parents who attend private school or are homeschooled are significantly more likely to be Republican, but they are no less likely than those who went to public school to report that they are transgender, or to identify as non-heterosexual.


Meanwhile, exposure to CSJ ideas in schools has a deep impact on what students come to believe. Among those who weren't taught about white privilege in school, just 41 percent believe that "being white is one of the most important sources of privilege in America"—a number that rises to 56 percent among those who were taught about "white privilege" in school. And the proportion who agree that America is a patriarchal society jumps from 37 percent among those who were not taught about patriarchy in school to 60 percent among those who were.

While 40 percent of young Americans not taught CSJ say they sometimes think whites are "racist and mean," this soars to 72 percent among those who said they were taught the maximum of six CSJ concepts. Support for racial preferences more than doubles, and white guilt increases by 50 percent, between those taught the minimum and maximum number of CSJ ideas.

All of this leads to the sad conclusion that the nationwide impact of school choice is likely to be limited—hardly a panacea to such a big problem. If the schools that credential teachers and supply the nation's curriculum materials are saturated with CSJ, most private, parochial and homeschooled children will be, too.

School choice is important in offering committed parents a way to bypass the cultural radicalism which is infecting public schools. But when it comes to reversing the political indoctrination of the nation's young people, only reform of curriculum content, as in Ron De Santis' Florida or Glenn Youngkin's Virginia, is likely to move the needle.

This is a tall mountain to climb. Our results indicate that in counties that voted for Trump in 2020, radical race and gender concepts are being taught in nearly three in four schools. In fact, 88 percent of youth from the most heavily Republican counties heard critical race theory and gender concepts in school. This is happening right under the nose of Republican parents and politicians.

The hour is late. Republican legislators must prioritize education reform if their party, and the values of race-neutrality and national attachment it supports, are to have a future.

Eric Kaufmann is a professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London and is affiliated with the Manhattan Institute and the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology.

The views in this article are the writer's own.