Earlier this week, the School Board of the Peninsula School District, located in Oregon voted against adopting Critical Race Theory (CRT) to its curriculum. The district, which covers mainly the area surrounding the city of Gig Harbor decided to vote against the inclusion of CRT in its curriculum by a unanimous margin of 5-0, according to an interview made by the local school district president to a local radio show.
David Olson, the board’s president, explained that the decision was made after “A lot of parents were concerned that training teachers across the state could then creep down into the classroom”, which is why the board decided to act. Last May, Washington passed a controversial bill titled “SB 5044” aimed at “dismantling institutional racism in the public school system”.
What is interesting about this ban is that the area that surrounds the school district is not necessarily a Republican stronghold. The city of Gig Harbor voted decisively for President Biden in 2020, with the precinct’s results that serve the city showing that Biden won 4,414 votes against Trump’s 3,148, approximately 56.4% of the total vote in 2020. The GOP didn’t far particularly well either in the larger countywide results, with Trump trailing Biden by almost 10 points in Pierce County.
The decision in the Peninsula School district is just the latest of a protracted fight that is currently being fought in school boards throughout the country around the inclusion of Critical race theory in the school’s curriculums, with both a record number of local school boards recall proposals and a slew of state legislation aimed at curbing the influence of Critical Race Theory in public schools.
The fact that the board decided via a unanimous vote to reject it also highlights another fact: Critical Race Theory is no very popular among Americans.
Critical Race Theory is impopular among those who have heard of it
A poll conducted by The Economist and YouGov last June to 1500 adult U.S citizens showed that Critical Race Theory is not very well known by a vast majority of Americans, despite being in the center of constant political infighting, but that for those Americans that know of it the doctrine is highly unpopular.
According to the survey, 35% of Americans have heard “nothing at all” about CRT, 38% have only heard “a little”, and only 26% of Americans have heard “a lot” about Critical Race Theory. Meaning that 73% of those surveyed have had either little to no exposure at all over the issue of CRT.
Hispanics are one of the demographics that has heard the less (43%) about the issue. There is also a slight partisan effect on the issue, with Republicans slightly more likely to have heard a lot about CRT than Democrats, with 32% for the formers and 21% for the latter.
However, among those who have actually heard about CRT the opinion about its value is overwhelmingly negative, with 53% of those asked said they have a “very bad” opinion on CRT, while 5% say they have a “somewhat favorable” opinion. In contrast, only 38% of those asked have either a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion on the subject.
The trend follows a similar path when the survey asks if CRT is good or bad for America, with 55% of those surveyed saying they think is bad and only 37% thinking is good for the country, with an 8% saying they don’t think the theory is either good or bad for the country.
Republicans, Independents, and Hispanics have the strongest opinions against CRT
As it would be expected, party affiliation plays a crucial role in the way people view CRT. Democrats overwhelmingly tend to have positive views on Critical Race Theory, with 58% saying they have a “very favorable” opinion on the subject, while an astonishing 85% of registered Democrats who answered the question think CRT is good for America.
Republicans, also quite predictably, are completely unified in their opposition to CRT. With 88% of them thinking it is a bad thing for the country and 85% of GOP voters having “very unfavorable” opinions on CRT.
Both of these data points are quite expected, however, an extremely interesting insight that the YouGov/The Economist poll gives us is that both Independents and Hispanics generally have critical sentiment towards CRT.
Most Hispanics, a constituency that has historically trended Democratic, have a negative opinion on CRT. 49% of those Hispanics have heard of CRT saying they have a “very unfavorable” opinion of it and 40% thinking that Critical Race Theory is bad for the country. In contrast, only 13% of Hispanics say they have a “very favorable” opinion of CRT, although this gap is reduced when asked if they think CRT is good for the country, with 30% saying they think it is.
This is a significant difference with Black Americans, who have an overwhelmingly favorable view of CRT, with 75% thinking that it is good for America and 52% of those surveyed saying they have a “very favorable” opinion on CRT.
Independents, the crucial voting bloc where most Americans belong, have an astonishingly strong opinion against CRT, with 71% of them saying they have a “very unfavorable” opinion on it and 72% thinking that is bad for America.
While it still remains true that most Americans have either never heard or heard very little about CRT, the data showed by the polls indicates that those Americans who are familiar with the issue do not like it one bit. This is why we can expect that decisions like those taken by the Peninsula School Board would be replicated across the nation.
Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student from the University of South Florida. He worked as a congressional intern to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) from January to May 2020. He also is the head of international analysis at Politiks // Daniel es un estudiante de Cs Políticas y Economía en la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Trabajo como pasante legislativo para el Representate Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) desde enero hasta mayo del 2020. Daniel también es el jefe de análisis internacional de Politiks.