● Large majorities of Americans, overall, across parties and demographic groups are concerned with how history is being taught in schools.
● In a survey experiment, we find that Americans express greater support for teaching “how racism continues to impact American society today” than support for teaching “Critical Race Theory (CRT)” in public schools. Overall, a 52% majority of Americans support teaching the legacy of racism versus just 27% who support teaching CRT.
● Support for teaching CRT and the legacy of racism varies widely by socio-demographic factors. Democrats are roughly 50 percentage points more likely to support teaching the legacy of racism than are Republicans. A smaller gap, 37 percentage points, separates partisans in their support for teaching CRT.
● Despite the increased focus on persistent racial disparities in American society following the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, a majority of Whites do not support teaching how racism continues to impact American society today in public schools. Just 46% White respondents support teaching the legacy of racism, compared to 73% of Black respondents – a 27 percentage point gap between the racial groups. Black respondents were also 19 points more likely to support teaching CRT than White respondents (42% vs 23%). The racial divide is mostly driven by exceptionally low support among White Republicans, whereas there is no significant difference between support for teaching the legacy of racism and support for teaching CRT between White Democrats and Black Americans overall (most of whom identify as Democrats).
● The public’s attitudes toward CRT have no consistent relationship with state policy on CRT. Opposition to CRT is identical in states that have enacted legislative bans on CRT and in states where no state action has been taken.
● Despite its prominent place in news headlines in recent months, most Americans don’t know what CRT is. A large majority of Americans are not at all or not very familiar with CRT, with 7 in 10 respondents saying they aren’t familiar with the theory.
● When asked how well they think CRT describes how American society works, about 1 in 5 (21%) of respondents say it describes society well, 35% think it does not, and 44% say they don’t know. As with support for CRT, state policy on CRT has no clear relationship with citizen’s familiarity with the theory nor with how well they think CRT describes American society.