Application of Critical Race Theory to Education

First presented in the mid-1980s in American Law Schools, Critical Race Theory contends over time white supremacy and racial influence over African-Americans, institutionalizes and fosters all minorities. This fostering manifests an idea known as White Privilege, or the idea influence and supremacy perpetuatesassisting the dominant race, in this case European-Americans (Taylor, Gillborn & Ladson-Billings, 2016). Critical Race Theory and White Privilege admit not all European-Americans are racist; many simply benefit from a status or class privilege. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, this idea expanded into most social sciences and education (Taylor, Gillborn & Ladson-Billings, 2016). A cursory literature review illuminated several inequities where African-Americans seem to be on educational policys short side. These articles attempt a potential discourse examining racist policies results without addressing the root causations. The first area, new teachers are predominately white while students are largely minorities leading to a misunderstanding between the two. Second, teacher preparation programs have not adjusted practices concerning the racial disparities urban schools faceand therefore education collegesare not adequately preparing teachers to face challenging classrooms. Third, curriculum designers work without considering challenges faced by minorities. Finally, like P-12 educators, colleges and universities failconfronting the race issue or discussing institutional race disparities.

Conducting this limited literature review, although quoted three times, scholars lacked studying and understanding the impact Critical Race Theory has on curriculum, instruction and assessment (Berry, 2015). The first articles authors substituted the failing to understand privilege as failed preparation and understanding (Ares, Evans, & Harnischfeger, 2018). This ignoranceleads to deficit thinking towardsminority students, and then leads to lower expectations regardingachievement by minority students (Ares et al., 2018). The prevailing discussion, as Critical Race Theorists will admit, there will be blame placed by the privileged class on the minority classes and their issues. Numerous articles recommend teacher preparation programs be reevaluated and overhauled as these programsfail to train adequately the on strategies effectively educatingAfrican-American students.

Overhauling teacher preparation programs has yielded little beyond discussion and even less action at the collegiate level. Oftentimes, leaving school districts to design their own programs addressing district racial disparities issues (Cross, 2003). Authors point to methodologies to address disparities between the teachers and the students, never addressing the causation. Although these suggestions effectiveness ranges, they do little to address the destructive racists ideals White Privilege caused African-American students and other minorities (Cross, 2003; Ares et al, 2018). Ares et al. (2018) wrote, Our study site was a high school sophomore class in a progressive program intended to prepare future teachers, filled mostly with Black and Latinx students. Their teacher worked to help them envision democratic views of schooling and the ways urban schools often reproduce inequity. Teachersunderstand the differences, yet push the status quo, primarily to maintain their gained status or perceived privilege.

Several articles highlight the issue racism directly presents the current curriculum. A few articles highlighting racism in the curriculum referenced English courses lacking balance by presenting mainly Eurocentric articles, stories, and characters (Frank, 2014). English and Literature classes fair the same, providing fewopportunities were students candeviate away and learn anything other than proper white English (Peters, 2015). Current curricular classes offer few opportunities where students can use African-American (Ebonics) language as expressions either orally or written (Peters, 2015).

History courses, demonstrated teaching African-American history duringBlack History Month in February, the shortest month, while the remaining months lackabalanced Black History presentation. Although, Lackey (2017) does discuss history classes being whitewashed or sanitized where race may be left to the teachers implications or the students interpretation. Both interpretations form unfair and unwarrantedAfrican-American studentpredispositions. Todayshistory classes faildiscussing issues, ratherteachers presentthe same limited narratives and the few minority personalities leaving students few controversial or race issue discussionopportunities (Lackey, 2017).

Mathematics class level or teacher quality demonstrated little effort challenging minority student thinking (Morvan, 2014). The OECDs Equations and Inequalities: Making Mathematics Accessible to All report argues students with difficulties in mathematics and disadvantaged students stand to gain the most from highly qualified teachers, but unfortunately, they often are paired with the least-skilled teachers (Morvan, 2014). Morvan (2014) admits this phenomenon does not occur only in Math. Interestingly, Morvan (2014) points out school level does not prevent or preclude discriminatory practices.

The curriculum extends to the elementary level as Morvans (2014) articlediscusses as early as elementary school racist tendencies and practices concerning course selection occurthis practice occurs even when selecting group-levels inside theclassroom. Morvan (2014) does concede teacher choice; experiences and prejudices may be the resultantaction.When a student becomes ahigh school student, the segregation based on race grows evidenced by thecourses offered and selected; and the tracks students follow as they matriculate high school (Morvan, 2014). Morvan (2014) does concede some segregation occurs based on other factors such as socio-economics but argues race asa leading factor. Whenever racist or discriminatory practices occur, the playing field tilts negativelyagainst African-American students (Ares et al, 2018; Cross, 2003; Morvan, 2014). The negative tilt prevents African-American students from learning on a level playing field with their European-American counterparts (Morvan, 2014).

Higher education, the college and university levels appearno better addressing racism andcurriculum. The literature explicitly states multicultural education and anti-racism arenot the same. Peters (2015) succinctly confirms the ideawhen he states, Anti-racist education differed strongly from multicultural education, designed to eliminate the practice of classifying people according to their skin color or racial identity. Despite theadvances, leaders in higher education believe they made, offering programs and courses, numerous authors countered those contentions. Peters (2015) contends professional learning presenters do not speak regarding racism and gender at professional conferences, when writingjournal articles or during general class discussions. Additionally, higher education has taken little to no action to better prepare teachers by providing curriculum-ending actions extending privilege andracist sentiments saturating the learning environment (Peters, 2015).

Failing research and extensive literature explicitly addressing the root causes racism inflicts, there are enough sources discussing the backside, the consequences, or damages the racist behaviors ingrain. The available literature indicates consistency with the tenants Critical Race Theory and White Privilege present: lacking diversified teaching, especially urban areas where up the highest concentration. The literature extends racisttenants manifest themselves deeply penetrating current P-20 curriculum and by extension infiltrating the classrooms where the curriculum occurs. Not presenting or discussing racisms tenants, they are seen flooding teacher preparation programs through the exclusionary processes. Honestly, scholars like Peters (2015) contend higher education prepares and teaches students, as an overt privilege,thusthe ways of racism seep down the curriculum. Therefore, this discussion must continue and more articles need written.


  • Ares, N., Evans, D. M., & Harnischfeger, A. M. (2018). Systemic constraints on students appropriation of reform oriented curriculum.Critical Questions in Education,9(1), 1-21.
  • Berry, T. R. (2015). Me and Bill: Connecting black curriculum orientations to critical race feminism.Educational Studies: Journal of the American Educational Studies Association,51(5), 423-433. doi:10.1080/00131946.2015.1076687
  • Cross, B. (2003). Learning or unlearning racism: transferring teacher education curriculum to classroom practices.Theory into Practice, 42(3), 203-209.
  • Frank, J. (2014). James Baldwins Everybodys Protest Novel: Educating our responses to racism.Educational Philosophy & Theory,46(1), 24-31.
  • Gibson, C. L. (2018). Social Media: A vital tool in teaching contemporary black American protest.Midwest Quarterly,59(4), 386.
  • Lackey, M. (2017). The existence of racism in high school history classes.Lucerna,1123-32.
  • Morvan, J. (2014). Making visible and acting on issues of racism and racialization in school Mathematics.Brock Education Journal,27(1), 35-52.
  • Peters, M. A. (2015). Editorial: Why is my curriculum white?Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47(7), 641-646. doi:10.1080/00131857.2015.1037227
  • Sharma, M., & Kuper, A. (2017). The elephant in the room: talking race in medical education.Advances in Health Sciences Education: Theory and Practice,22(3), 761-764. doi:10.1007/s10459-016-9732-3
  • Taylor, E., Gillborn, D., & Ladson-Billings, G. (Eds). (2016).Foundations of Critical Race Theory In Education: Second Edition.New York: Routledge.

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