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“The fight over Critical Race Theory in education is a fight in many ways for our national survival”

“The fight over Critical Race Theory in education is a fight in many ways for our national survival”

My address on Critical Race Theory in education to state legislators: “I want to talk about how you can save the nation…. If you wanted to think of a way to tear this country apart, it’s hard to think of a way better than what they are doing.”

On July 29, 2021, I gave a presentation on “Fighting Smart Against Critical Race Theory In Education” to over 100 state legislators at the American Legislative Exchange Council annual meeting in Salt Lake City.

The invitation to speak grew out of the publicity generated by CriticalRace.Org, launched by Legal Insurrection Foundation in early February 2021, as well as my many interviews and comments on the subject. This was my second appearance at an ALEC annual meeting, the first being in 2015 on the topic of Freedom of Thought in Higher Education (that 2015 meeting had much more drama with large protests outside the venue).

I spoke at the Education Task Force session, in a room filled with state legislators and also some representatives of various think tanks. Based on the reactions after I spoke, it is likely I’ll be invited to speak at one or more state legislative committees.



(auto-generated, may contain transcription errors)

Thank you. And thank you for having me here. I appreciate the invitation from ALEC. My name is William Jacobson. I am a Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York. I am also the founder of the Legal Insurrection Foundation, which also runs that you see on your screen.

I only have 15 minutes today. I can talk about this subject for hours. I have spoken about the subject for hours, and I’m happy to appear before any legislative committees to testify as needed. The main focus that I’m going to talk about now is one of the hottest issues, if not the hottest issue, which is what’s loosely called critical race theory and the role that state legislators can have in helping on that issue.

I’m speaking to a group, although I only have 15 minutes, in many ways, you are the most important group ever spoken to. Because you can actually make a difference. You are really at the center of what this fight is about, and you can help change the trajectory of the country.

Now, I know you probably thought you were coming to a meeting to talk about educational policy, not how you’re going to save the nation. But I want to talk about how you can save the nation.

The ideology of critical race theory puts, at its core, in its center, that race is the most important thing in a student’s life. That skin color is the most important thing in how their life is going to develop. It’s an extremely pernicious ideology. If you wanted to think of a way to tear this country apart, it’s hard to think of a way better than what they are doing.

You are pitting students against each other based on skin color.

You are pitting students against their parents. There was that horrible incident that just happened where a little girl testified how at school they told her, don’t tell your parents about what you’re being taught. And she had testified before the school committee that that made her uncomfortable but her mom told her that you can tell me anything, but at school they were telling her not to tell about critical race theory. And if people have something to hide, there’s usually a reason for that.

It pits students against our economic system of capitalism. As a prior speaker just noted, it’s not surprising that students have this rosy view of socialism and communism because capitalism is demonized almost every day in classrooms across the country.

It pits children against the concept of meritocracy, of working hard. That somehow, showing your proof in math is a symbol of white supremacy, which is absurd. There is not a single parent of any racial or ethnic group who does not want their children to actually learn math the proper way.

It ultimately turns children against their own country. A lot of polling shows that the younger the person is in this country, the less proud they are to be an American.

The fight over critical race theory in education is a fight in many ways for our national survival. And you are on the front lines of that fight.

The national alarm has been sounded. You’ve all heard about this. You’re probably getting calls from people and unsolicited emails. This is not a partisan issue. If you read what’s written, even in the mainstream media, Politico just had an article about how a lot of Democrat politicians were scared because their own constituents are very upset about this. So this is not a partisan issue. This is a parental rights issue.

And this alarm being sounded by parents and moms across the country, like Nicole Solas, who will be speaking right after I do, in Rhode Island., to show you the interest, when we turned that live in early February, within 24 hours, we got a million views on the website. That’s how powerful the interest in this subject is.

So what I want to talk about is what role you as legislators can play. And what’s most important is you understand that this started in higher education, on our website, that map you see there, you can click on your state. You can click on your university. [The site] tracks, for over 350 universities, what the status is. Some have a lot of critical race theory programs. Some have very few. But it has now migrated into K-12. The questions we get most frequently are K-12.

And that’s why you are so important because the government traditionally has a role in regulating K-12 curriculum, unlike higher education curriculum. And that’s why you’re so important.

What it’s called, don’t get into word games about, “Well, this is not critical race theory. That’s a legal doctrine taught only in law schools.” No, if they are centering race as the center of everything, then it is critical race theory. When I say “centering race,” I’m not talking about the union talking points of, “Oh, you don’t want us to teach history.” No, the history of slavery, the history of discrimination, are all certainly appropriate topics and should be taught. And I don’t know a single person pushing back against critical race theory who says you should not teach those things.

If the curriculum though says that the United States is systemically and irredeemably racist, that it is baked into our system, then that’s critical race theory, no matter what they call it. If they use shaming practices for children or for teachers based on the color of their skin, that’s critical race theory, no matter how they dress it up. If they separate teachers and students into racial affinity groups, that is critical race theory, whether they call it that or not.

And the question that we face, and that you face is, will we allow this country to slide backwards into a time when race was the singular focus as a society, to slide backwards into a society that viewed race as most important? Are we going to sacrifice the enormous gains of the American civil rights movement in order to re-racialize the society? And that’s what it’s about.

One thing you have to understand, and that parents understand, is that the money and the power in society are backing this push for critical race theory. And that’s again, why you are so important because you’re in a position to push back against that. We’ve tracked this at our website. We’ve tracked this in our research at the Legal Insurrection Foundation. There are hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into groups. hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of groups that are pushing this. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, having first denied that this is being taught, now have announced that it’s a good thing, and it should be in every school, and that they will use their lawyers to defend any teacher who’s sanctioned in any way for teaching it.

So, what I want to talk about is what is in some of the things, and there’s a brochure on your table that I prepared. But I want you to listen to me, not read the brochure. But you don’t have to take notes because we gave you the notes. And certainly I will be around after the session today to speak with anybody who has any questions.

So the first thing you need to keep in mind is this is a marathon, not a sprint, that the current state of education, particularly as regards race education, has been a couple of generations in the making. This did not just happen in 2020 and 2021. You have to go back to the early eighties, maybe earlier, some people would say earlier, but I view it as the early eighties when this began to happen. This has been a long time coming.

What you can do is you can enable systems that will outlive your legislative session. And I’ve heard some of the things that have taken place in other states on other issues. You can put in place systems that will help avoid this problem, so it doesn’t come up every year.

You have to focus on the concept of equality. That’s the word you should be using over and over and over again, because equality of each individual, without regard to race or skin color, is our highest national ideal. And it’s something we should be striving for as opposed to some of the euphemisms that get used like “equity” and other things like that. Make that the center of your fight. Whatever you are doing, it is to achieve equality. And that is extremely important.

In terms of these durable systems, probably the single best thing you could do now is transparency in education. There are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of parents out there who cannot find out what is being taught in their schools. They have to serve public records requests, which take time. And then you get told, you’ve got to pay thousands of dollars to find out wha’s being taught in the school. And that is something that you can do.

And there are model legislations out there, I know, that have to do with transparency. I know the one that you’re going to be talking about later today has some transparency provisions in that. That is the thing, because this movement against critical race theory, contrary to what Media Matters and union talking points will say, is not an astroturf movement. It is an on-the-ground grassroots movement. You don’t need to manage that information, but you need to empower it.

There are, like I said, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of parents who want this information. And if they knew what was being taught in the schools, you would see an uprising bigger than anything you can imagine. I would urge you to consider those transparency legislations, those transparency provisions, because this fight is going to be fought school district by school district.

Focus on K-12, not higher education. Like I said, K-12 has always been subject to state regulation. Students are forced to be there by force of law. You have a captive audience. You can much more easily make the case for regulating K-12.

For higher education, I would say, put that aside for the time being. It’s a much tougher issue. The concept of academic freedom and free speech has a much greater basis in higher ed than it does in K-12.

For higher ed, one thing I think you need to start looking at is clarifying, if need be, your existing anti-discrimination laws. Because a lot of what goes on in higher ed, I believe it actually violates existing anti-discrimination laws. And that is something that you might want to take a look at, your anti-discrimination laws, and make clear what sort of practices in education violated it.

And go positive. You can’t just be against something. There are model curriculums out there that are available on teaching the positive aspects of history. The good and the bad. We don’t want to whitewash anything, but a more positive view of history, than this very dead-end ideology that we’re doomed as a society, that’s baked into our future.

And then last, but not least, you have to be happy warriors. I was trying to think of the greatest analogy I can give you, to inspire you when you leave here today, go out and get something done.

And I was thinking of that scene, for some reason, in the first Rocky movie, when the music is playing, and he’s running through the streets. And he ends up running up the steps to the Philadelphia Art Museum, and he raises his hands in the air. That’s how you have to be because your fight is critical. Your role as legislators in fighting is so critical.

I think I’m probably out of time. I’m going to be around afterwards. Like I said, I am very happy to appear at a state committee, before a group, before another conference. Like I said, I can talk for hours, and I’m happy to debate anybody about it, but nobody ever seems to want to debate me. Maybe that will change. Thank you very much.


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Juris Doctor | August 8, 2021 at 6:05 pm

From the LA Times Editorial Board:
Editorial: What critical race theory is — and isn’t — and why it belongs in schools

    henrybowman in reply to Juris Doctor. | August 8, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    In my happy dreams, the LA Times Editorial Board all send their children to schools that immerse them heavily in CRT; they all return home and kill their rich, white, and therefore racist parents in their sleep.

    I am troubled by the reference to making Equality the focus as the remedy for CRT because so many of the K-12 education programs I have been at use the same term to mean something else. And CRT is the tool to get there. They hype structural racism because structure gets at housing, monthly income. healthcare, and other ‘needs’ that must be supplied to get to Equity that is then a prerequisite to Equality of Opportunity.

    Making Equality of Opportunity for All a remedy plays into the supposed need for CRT in the first place if social transformation is the focus. And again the webinars all agree that it is.

    Plus the current big initiative in K-12 is the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy with a primary advocate, Harvard professor Danielle Allen. This self-described ‘normative philosopher’ wrote that the Declaration of Independence guarantees Equality for All in terms of equal access to the Tool of Government to force structural reforms of the type listed above to meet ‘needs’.

    Just a Heads Up that these terms we think have a Webster’s Dictionary definition absolutely do not. The enacted, policymaking meaning becomes their new purpose as a goal of education reforms.

      CommoChief in reply to Robin. | August 8, 2021 at 11:30 pm


      Fair enough but only when we allow the terms to be redefined. Equality still means equality. Opportunity still means opportunity.

      Equality of opportunity has always meant that everyone has an equal opportunity to do something they desired. It has never meant that everyone could or would actually achieve that desired outcome.

      You and I had the same opportunity as everyone else to become an NFL QB including those with disabilities.

      If a person can learn the offense, read the defense, adjust to the situation and get the ball to a receiver using our teeth instead of hands and arms then as long as it was a 2.5 second release put into a tight window where only the receiver can make a play then the NFL would hire us.

        JusticeDelivered in reply to CommoChief. | August 9, 2021 at 8:04 am

        We have a lot of people who have had opportunity handed to them on a platter, yet they are too lazy or too dumb to avail themselves of that opportunity. They feel entitled, screw them.

        You and I both have a brain full of facts to back up our conception of Equality and other abstract concepts that get quietly and deliberately redefined without notice. That kind of transmission of knowledge is no longer the norm in K-12. When you hear the term Higher Order Thinking Skills or Conceptual Frameworks for subjects, it is abstract concepts students learn with whatever illustrative story to be the concrete representation for the concept.

        If there has been a redefinition of the type I am warning about with Democracy, equality, or Liberty (all are terms that have done a 180 from their historic meaning), we may be able to notice the shift, especially with some notice to be careful, but students do not. They get told that the Declaration of Independence’s use of the term Equality entitles them to substantive Equality of Opportunity of the type I described with a cite to Danielle Allen’s book Our Declaration as the proof. That’s how they frame the Declaration–a not yet completed vision of what the United States can be.

        That her award-winning book is a tortured, ahistorical reconceptualization never gets told because they are being taught just the concepts. All of a sudden this next generation has a completely new vision for what the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are supposed to be about without a word being changed.

        See my concern?

          CommoChief in reply to Robin. | August 9, 2021 at 12:30 pm


          I fully understand your concern about the degradation of language, culture and the shift away from merit based outcomes to outcomes based upon desire.

          What I am trying to gently state is what is the responsibility and where is the accountability for parents and community members who are upset?

          We agree upon the existence of the problems. What are we as parents and community members doing about it?

          As an example; elite private schools. The parents understood the dangers of the curriculum and the poor quality of teaching in public schools. These parents pay $20K to $60K or more to avoid that.

          The problem was these parents thought their job had ended. They didn’t prioritize ensuring that the dangerous curriculum didn’t germinate and take root in their expensive private schools.

          This lack of vigilance is not unique to them. We all have lives. We have jobs and careers and illnesses and the other issues of daily life. We as a nation didn’t remain vigilant.

          We all tend to outsource responsibility for the declines in our institutions to others. If the public school is teaching concepts that are at odds with your beliefs what did you do?

          Did we immediately recognize the issue or did it pass us by? When aware did we communicate and build a coalition of the like minded to raise hell at the school board?

          If unsuccessful did we place the child in private school? If unaffordable did we home school? Did we make time to review the lesson plans, content and provide supplemental lessons in accordance with our beliefs while fighting the good fight?

          Did we make enough effort to push for education funding to follow the student? Did we bother to vote in the off year/off cycle school board elections?

          My point here is that we have arrived here because we chose to by not making enough effort to change course. We deserve the government that we elect.

          If we want different outcomes then we must be willing to do those things necessary to alter the current system. IMO, we are to blame.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Juris Doctor. | August 8, 2021 at 11:21 pm

    If it belongs in schools, ten white and Asian students do not belong in those schools. I bet that plenty of brown parents will decide that their children also do not belong in those schools.

Thank you Prof. Jacobson. Keep up the great work!

Everyone, whether you have children in school or not, get involved. Your property taxes support these schools. It’s your right to know what’s being taught!

    Absolutely! All hands on deck!
    We all need to do our part to save our children and our nation.
    Go to school board meetings, know the curriculum/FOIA if you must, join parent groups opposing this, make your phone calls and write letters. Speak up and show up!

Like I’ve been saying for a long time, CRT is going to be defeated in the political arena, not in our court system. And what we are finding out as we take that tack is that we have a strong political wind in our sails.

The Uniparty Marxists are doing their best to cram their ideas as quickly as possible by corrupting everything while pushing hard with a seamless and relentless propaganda campaign. What they are learning is that you can’t be on the wrong side of every issue and expect to last. And as the walls crumble, they panic.

The state legislatures are where we have been losing our biggest battles in the past 5+ years, especially the one to prevent the 2020 elections from getting stolen. A lot (most?) of the people you were talking to Professor are not going to be in office very long. This is the layer that is most vulnerable to angry voters, the two-year terms where most are usurped by the Speaker or party leader in their need to instantly begin to campaign for re-election upon winning their seat. It’s time to for them to remember why they got elected in the first place and why following the leaders over the cliff is no longer an option.

In their desperation, maybe they will finally do something right for a change? This Uniparty system of government has already. It is time to clean house and the legislators will be the first to go. Here in CA, we are throwing ourselves into a quickly spreading recall frenzy and ALL of the targets are Democrats… so far.

    Latest in the CA recall frenzy:

    This is a major issue across the country as the Obama plan to bankrupt suburban communities so the big cities can scoop them up proceeds apace. But these are the same torch-and-pitchforks that will be chasing the Congress representatives very soon. Read the wording.

    “failure to protect the citizens of Huntington Beach from state efforts to change our zoning laws and destroy our single-family home beachfront community, and turn it into one urban high-rise, high-density development.”

    Sure, for now it’s not about CRT because the HUD debt trap is the issue that is right in their faces right now. But you can be sure it is high on the list of what is next. This could snowball. Pasadena finds itself in the same trap but there is no political will to fight it here.

Today: Don’t tell your parents about this.
Tomorrow: Tell us about your parents.

The American Cultural Revolution.

Have you apologized yet over your January 6 “conclusions?”

They don’t want equity, they want superiority


The problem with making equity (equal outcome) the goal is because two people in the same circumstances, both earning $100,000 per year and one saves half and the other spends it all—at the end of the year—the one who saved will have to give half of their savings to the one who spent it all. The next year they will both spend it all.

    henrybowman in reply to UserP. | August 10, 2021 at 7:47 am

    Equity is a stupid idea, on the same plane as the labor theory of value. A 20-year-old balsa tree does not make a hammer handle that is as valuable as a 20-year-old oak does. And if you plan to hire Bob Vila to repair your house, you won’t get three times the value by hiring Larry, Moe, and Curly instead.

The ONLY “resolution” of consequence: “red county rural” HOME-schooling!

Thank you, Professor J. and team, for being on the front lines of this critical fight against a truly noxious, evil and corrosive ideology.