by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The education advisory commission set up by former President Donald Trump will resume operations despite being disbanded by President Joe Biden, aiming to undermine the acceptance and teaching of critical race theory in schools.
The 1776 Commission is scheduled to convene on Monday in Washington on the annex campus of Hillsdale College to plot its next steps. An agenda for the private meeting, which is closed to the media, was not available. But in an interview with the Washington Examiner, Matthew Spalding, the 1776 Commission’s executive director, said the group sees a major role for itself in the explosive debate over the teaching of the history of the United States in public and private schools.
On one side is critical race theory. The decades-old academic study of U.S. history, more prevalent recently, argues that racism remains deeply embedded in all aspects of American life. According to the concept, the only way to unravel this systemic racism and bring about a just society is for institutions, public and private, to place race and ethnicity at the center of policymaking, hiring, and how people are treated generally.
On the other side are traditionalists who believe in de-emphasizing race and ethnicity. The 1776 Commission does not intend to whitewash the nation’s history of racism, Spalding said. Rather, the group wants to promote a history curriculum that defines racial equality as an American tenet, from the founding creed of the Declaration of Independence — “all men are created equal” — to Martin Luther King’s dream of a colorblind nation and beyond.
“When we start going about dividing people by groups, by social identities, and especially by identities that deal with race, and we’re starting to make those kinds of divisions, all Americans should get very nervous,” said Spalding, who runs Hillsdale’s Washington campus and is a faculty member.