As parents combat sexually explicit materials, racist curricula, and poor educational outcomes, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, Texas’ Democrat nominee for governor, promises to allow more racist ideologies in public schools. 

Critical race theory (CRT) has occupied an increasingly prominent place in public discourse. The core theme of the theory is that race is a social construct, and racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice but also something embedded in legal systems and policies—which are therefore racist.

Although promoted as “anti-racist” civil rights education, CRT actively encourages discrimination by segregating people into two main categories, oppressors and victims, with the calculation based solely on skin color. 

Last spring, an elementary school in San Antonio conducted such an exercise, separating children by light or dark hair color and then forcing the light-haired children to clean up after the dark-haired children. Parents reported that the exercise disturbed and upset their children. 

CRT expert and Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Mike Gonzalez says, “White children are taught that they perpetuate racism, whatever their feelings. Black children are taught that love of reading and writing, and the use of reason, are elements of white culture.”

According to Gonzalez, “All children are taught that America is a hideous place.”

Last year, the Texas Legislature ostensibly banned the practice of teaching CRT in public schools through Senate Bill 3. However, the legislation is vague and lacks a viable enforcement mechanism, making the law essentially useless in helping parents attempt to remove CRT from their children’s classrooms and libraries.

Nevertheless, O’Rourke sees the law as a way to duck painful truths about the former slave state. Despite the harmful nature of CRT, O’Rourke supports it and says he wants teachers to choose which version of history is taught in the classroom.

“We don’t need to tell [a teacher] what version of history she is allowed to teach in a classroom. … We should know the full story of Texas and the full story of the United States of America,” he said. “If we don’t, then we’re trafficking in myths and things that just are not true.”

Juliana Berg

Juliana is a summer fellow for Texas Scorecard. She is studying political science and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. She enjoys learning about the philosophies that shape America.