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Commentary By Christopher F. Rufo

Chris Rufo: America's Parents Join Fight Against CRT

Culture, Education Race, Critical Race Theory, Pre K-12

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Parents are taking a stand against a broken public school system. In this year’s Virginia gubernatorial race, Terry McAuliffe, a popular former governor, went down to defeat after asserting that parents should not “be telling schools what they should teach.” In the weeks following McAuliffe’s comments, parents coalesced behind his opponent, Glenn Youngkin, who made educational choice a centerpiece of his campaign. In New Jersey’s gubernatorial race, a longshot challenger came exceedingly close to besting a well-funded incumbent by running on the same theme of empowering parents to do what is best for their kids. And similar stories are unfolding in cities and towns around the country, including New York City, where Eric Adams has been a longtime champion of high-performing charter schools.

Why is it that America’s parents are rising up against the public education establishment? A central part of the story is the introduction of critical race theory (CRT) into America’s public schools. A few years ago, most Americans outside of academia had never heard the term “critical race theory”—but they were noticing an increase in racially charged messages from elite institutions, government agencies, and the mainstream media. When such language made its way into our classrooms, including those of very young elementary school students, I knew it was time to speak up.

Ever since my appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight in September 2020, imploring then-president Trump to take a stand against CRT indoctrination in schools, I have been carefully documenting critical race theory’s spread into America’s schools in the Manhattan Institute’s conversation-shaping policy journal. In fact, City Journal played a leading role in breaking open the larger story of critical race theory in our schools, detailing the types of curricula children across the country are encountering, and giving parents back their voice in the mission to provide their children with a fair, colorblind, and merit-based education.

Defenders of CRT-inspired curricula and training programs often insist that these initiatives are aimed at teaching both the good and the bad in our nation’s history, and that opponents of racialized education are racists and neo-segregationists. In fact, these initiatives seek to advance a deeply divisive ideology of race essentialism, offering a distorted account of American life to promote a set of radical political ideas. That’s why the opposition to CRT has been so widespread and diverse, as evidenced by new data from Manhattan Institute and Echelon Insights. In a survey of 20 of America’s fastest-growing cities, parents oppose critical race theory in the public school curriculum by a massive 42-point margin, and a majority of black and Hispanic parents oppose CRT and support removing contentious “concepts such as white privilege and systemic racism” from the curriculum.

Today, I am proud to call myself a senior fellow and director of the initiative on critical race theory at the Manhattan Institute, as well as contributing editor at City Journal. MI is home to some of most committed and influential leaders in the fight against race essentialism, and City Journal has played an invaluable role in amplifying their voices.

As a new class of elected officials prepare to take office, we at the Manhattan Institute and City Journal will do everything in our power to move America and its great cities in the right direction. With the right policies and committed and courageous leadership, we can get our country back on track.

Will you join us in this essential work of unleashing the potential of all Americans; improving the quality of life in our urban centers; and offering a unifying alternative to the rigid and dehumanizing racial essentialism that is threatening to tear our country apart? To donate to the Manhattan Institute and join the fight for our future, click here.

Thank you,

Christopher F. Rufo
Senior fellow and director of the initiative on critical race theory, Manhattan Institute
Contributing editor, City Journal