Attorney General Todd Rokita is leading a multi-state effort calling on the Biden administration to drop a proposal aimed at funding more comprehensive and inclusive civics and history programs.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Rokita outlined his concerns about prioritizing anti-racism education and programs that include lessons on systemic inequities in American history.
The letter comes after the U.S. Department Of Education last month proposed two new priorities it’s considering for the American Civics and Education Programs. The proposed priorities would help determine grant awards for academic projects that support culturally responsive teaching and learning.
The department is considering prioritizing projects that include diverse perspectives and contributions to history, as well as creating more inclusive learning environments for students. The second proposal would prioritize funding for projects focused on improving students’ ability to spot false information and think critically about biases.
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Rokita’s letter claims the proposed priorities undermine what he calls “traditional American history.” He calls the department’s proposal a “thinly veiled attempt” to encourage critical race theory in school settings – a concept many Republican legislatures and officials are characterizing as controversial and divisive.
Race theory experts, however, say the concept is being misrepresented and weaponized as a political tool.
Rokita is urging the department to drop the proposed priorities from consideration, and says it should make clear that funding cannot be awarded to projects – he pointed to examples like the Pulizter Prize-winning The 1619 Project – that paint the country as “irredeemably racist.” He said the priorities, as written, would not improve the quality of student and teachers’ understanding of civics and history as the programs were designed to do.
Rokita is one of 20 state attorneys general who signed the letter. The department has yet to respond.