Governance
CSBA publishes FAQs on ethnic studies and critical race theory
CSBA has released frequently asked questions on two pressing topics in response to requests from district and county board members across the state: critical race theory (CRT) and ethnic studies. It is important that school trustees have a basic familiarity with and understanding of these concepts as they have become points of public interest.

The FAQs provide information that may be used to help guide what can be difficult and controversial conversations.

Critical race theory
In recent times, CRT, a once obscure topic, has hit the mainstream and caused quite a stir on social media and during school board meetings. Facing questions, advocacy and protests related to CRT, local governing boards have requested information to assist trustees in responding to this surge of interest. The Critical Race Theory FAQ (blog.csba.org/crt-faq) includes background on CRT that can allow for productive discussions on the matter.

“CRT is a practice of interrogating race and racism in society and the ways in which it impacts people,” according to the FAQ. “CRT emphasizes race as a social construct with social significance, not a biological reality. It acknowledges that racism is embedded within systems and institutions that replicate racial inequality — codified in law, embedded in structures, and woven into public policy.”

The document delves into CRT as well as its main principles, how it relates to education and California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, and what state law says about CRT and ethnic studies.

Ethnic studies
As pending legislation on ethnic studies gains steam in the Legislature, many local educational agencies are considering whether to adopt or to expand course offerings in this area. Additionally, the debate over CRT has bled into these discussions and created some confusion on the nature and purpose of ethnic studies.

The Ethnic Studies FAQ (blog.csba.org/ethnic-studies-faq) aims to clarify what ethnic studies is and how it fits in California’s K-12 schools. It includes sections defining ethnic studies, the debate around the state’s recently adopted Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, why supporters advocate for it and what the research on ethnic studies says about its impact on students.