I had hoped to avoid writing about Critical Race Theory (CRT), but recent media reports, opinion columns, letters to the editor and communications to legislators misrepresenting CRT and its influence in our schools warrant a response.

The weird thing is that CRT has been around since the late 1970s, as I understand it, but most of us has never heard about it. Why? Because CRT is a construct of higher education, specifically law schools. CRT was developed to spark wide-ranging discussions as to why racial inequality persisted after so many years of legislative initiatives designed to mitigate discrimination.

CRT is a theory. It is meant to be debated, challenged and vetted at a level well above K-12 education. It is a theory, after all, and not a curriculum.

We are hearing about CRT now due to a concerted effort to gin up another front in our nation’s ongoing culture war. Political opportunists have redefined CRT into something that it is not in an attempt to alarm the public. These charlatans contend that CRT has been unleashed into our K-12 public schools to indoctrinate students to hate America and to blame white persons for all that is wrong in America. They are taking the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with the Americans and rebranding them as Critical Race Theory.

How do we know this? Because Christopher Rufo, who has turned CRT into a lucrative side hustle, told us so. Rufo tweeted on March 15, 2021: “We have successfully frozen their brand – “critical race theory” – into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.”

A few minutes after that tweet, Rufo tweeted this, “The goal is to have the public read something negative in the newspaper and immediately think “critical race theory.” We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.

This kind of nonsense only works if we let ourselves be fooled by hucksters more interested in scoring political points than promoting sound educational policies.

At ND United, we believe that teachers should teach the truth, nothing more and nothing less. Like most Americans, I believe in American exceptionalism. This country has much to be proud of as a world leader. And I also believe that part of what makes this nation exceptional is our ability to not shy away from our past. We have not been perfect, but we have a history of examining our past, learning from our past, and taking seriously our ongoing desire to form a more perfect Union.

That is not CRT; that is education.

To be clear, critical race theory is not being taught in North Dakota schools, and public schools are not indoctrinating our children to hate America.

North Dakota’s outstanding professional educators teach to standards designed by North Dakota teachers for North Dakota students and are overseen by locally elected school boards. Those out-of-state pundits and political provocateurs with no regard for public education in North Dakota do us all a disservice.

This is not a “right versus left” issue. It is a “right versus wrong” issue, and it is wrong to impugn the integrity of North Dakota’s teachers, administrators and school boards by saying that they are teaching kids to hate America.

If anyone wants to know what is being taught in our public-school classrooms, they need only to talk to their school board members, school administrators, or most importantly, our kids’ teachers. They are the folks who know and care about our kids and work tirelessly to see that they have a bright future.


Nick Archuleta

NDU President