Ladson-Billings calls bills banning critical race theory a ‘red herring’

The Wisconsin State Journal utilized the expertise of UW–Madison’s Gloria Ladson-Billings in a recent article discussing the “chilling” effect that proposed legislation introduced by Republican lawmakers would have on Wisconsin public schools.

Gloria Ladson-Billings

Ladson-Billings is a professor emerita in the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She is also the president of the National Academy of Education.

The article explains: “The bills would ban eight concepts from being discussed in the classroom, including that one race or sex is superior to another; a person is inherently racist by virtue of his or her race or sex; a person’s moral character is necessarily determined by race or sex; a person should feel guilty for past acts committed by people of his or her race or sex; and systems based on meritocracy are racist or sexist or designed to oppress people of another race.”

These are concepts often ascribed to “critical race theory” — which, the article says, “posits that racism is baked into the country’s social structures, policies, and institutions, benefiting white people and disadvantaging people of color.”

Ladson-Billings, one of the first scholars to introduce the idea of critical race theory in the 1990s, told the State Journal that Republican rhetoric “purposely twists the intent of critical race theory, which does not argue that one race is superior to another but that white privilege perpetuates inequities.”

“This particular movement at the legislative level is a red herring, a way to gin up fear,” Ladson-Billings said. “It’s a political move, a way to rally the troops.”

Many educators fear the legislation would undo work to make public schools more accessible to all students, and would limit teachers from engaging students in conversations about race, U.S. history, and current events.

Read the full article at

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