Taxpayer-Funded Federal Program Trains Teachers In Critical Race Theory

Casey Harper (The Center Square).

Recently discovered federal grant documents reveal that approximately $2.5 million was paid by the U.S. Department of Education to Florida’s education program. This training program teaches future teachers as well as other professionals critical race theory.

Two grants were used to fund the project: one was in 2017 and another in 2021. Faculty at Florida State University were awarded both grants through a partnership with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.

According to federal Institute for Education Sciences databases, the DOE granted $1,020 800 in its first grant, and $1,498,620 for the second. Participants can apply for 1-year fellowships.

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This program is known as Partners United for Research Pathways Oriented to Social Justice in Education.

“The PURPOSE training program’s P–20 theme focuses on researching social justice issues within educational contexts,” the grant says. “Throughout the year fellows will participate in proseminars, within which they will learn about social justice issues.”

Proseminars can be used to teach and train on critical race theories.

From Purpose’s Site:

The theme of the PURPOSE program is, “Social Justice: Using Research to Address Inequities in Education.” Students from FSU and FAMU will have opportunities to develop their own research projects during the yearlong fellowship by engaging research problems targeting educational injustices. Our program outcome is that there are benefits to participating in social justice. With the ultimate goal being that every group of people can be fully involved in a society that fulfills their needs.

The spring and summer semesters are for fellows to participate in proseminars on social justice issues, including culturally pertinent pedagogy/research design, tools of analyzing oppression (critical race theory), multicultural leadership and tools and social change and actions. Both PURPOSE mentors as well as guest speakers will be leading the seminars.

Alysia Roehrig, a professor of Educational Psychology at FSU who is listed as the “principal investigator” for the 2017 grant, acknowledged that critical race theory is taught in the taxpayer-funded program. She defended PURPOSE and said it focuses more on teaching education researchers than teachers.

“The purpose of our project is to train minoritized students in education research methods so that they may obtain a PhD and perhaps become university professors,” Roehrig said. “We talk about CRT as one of many frameworks that can be used in conducting research with minoritized populations to address social justice issues in education. It is important to spend federal research money on understanding social justice issues because those from racially minoritized populations (who also pay taxes) are underrepresented in the education sciences.”

Roehrig also said it is important to inform teachers about “structural racism.”

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“Without diverse perspectives in the field, it is very difficult to address research questions and issues that are relevant to our diverse U.S. population, or to overcome the pipeline problem (increasing the representation of minoritized students in graduate school and university faculty),” Roehrig said. “CRT has been taught in universities for a while (typically at the grad not undergrad level), but I think it has not been taught or used in K-12 schools.

“Teaching young children directly about the theory does not seem developmentally appropriate to me, but the theory can inform their teachers about structural racism and hopefully reduce deficit thinking about their students,” she added.

Jeannine Turner (FSU principal investigator) did not reply to our request for comment.

The office of U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., responded to a press inquiry on the program, calling it “inherently racist.”

“Last year, Senator Scott introduced a resolution condemning the use of Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools and teacher training, and he believes any taxpayer dollars spent to push the far-left’s narrative that America is inherently racist and evil in our classrooms, from Pre-K through higher education, is a gross and unacceptable misuse,” Scott’s office said in a statement.

Other critics also attacked PURPOSE, saying it rebuffs Democrats’ argument that CRT is not an issue in K-12 education.

“This is another example of how critical race theory – by name – finds its way into K-12 schools,” said Jonathan Butcher, an education expert at the Heritage Foundation. “These programs train graduate students to apply critical race theory’s discriminatory concepts to classroom teaching.”

The grant falls under the federal “Pathways to the Education Sciences Research Training Program.” The Pathways program’s website says it seeks to “increase the number of fellows from groups underrepresented in doctoral study including racial and ethnic minorities, first-generation college students, economically disadvantaged students, veterans, and students with disabilities and provide greater diversity in the types of institutions that provide IES-funded research training.”

However, this research training often involves controversial critical race theory curriculum. This training trains educators to be able to teach at all levels of secondary or higher education. It isn’t just Florida that has pushed for CRT.

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The Center Square was previously reportedThe DOE has awarded millions to North Carolina-based programs that train future teachers in critical race theory.

North Carolina Central University received federal grants totaling more than $2.6million to help train students in critical race theories. That program is named “The Research Institute for Scholars of Equity,” or RISE. Students receive travel assistance, a $5,000 stipend and money to pay for food and housing as part of this taxpayer-funded program. According to the program’s promotional materials and grant documents, RISE students are taught to use critical race theory as a framework by which to evaluate teacher quality, among other things.

The news of this program caused controversy.

“Critical Race Theory is inherently bigoted and it is a lie,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in response to news about that grant funding. “The federal government should not be funding the training for a Marxist ideology that teaches people to hate America. That’s why I introduced legislation earlier this year to block federal funding for CRT.”

The Center Square permission granted this syndicated version.