In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Critical Race Theory

  • Introduction
  • Special and Themed Issues of Journals
  • Key Law Review Articles and Related Legal Scholarship
  • Essential Books
  • Select Book Chapters

Education Critical Race Theory
Gerardo R. López, Chezare Warren
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 May 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0124


Critical race theory (CRT) has played an increasingly important role in exploring the centrality of race and racism in multiple scholarly arenas. CRT scholarship emerged in response to frustrations with the liberal rhetoric of the law as a mechanism for social change through the work of scholars such as Derrick Bell, Richard Delgado, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Mari Matsuda, Neil Gotanda, and others. As an outgrowth of the critical legal studies movement—an area of legal scholarship popularized in the 1970s that privileges economic and neo-Marxist understandings of structural barriers to equality—these early CRT scholars recognized that social, legal, and juridical apparatuses work in the interest of the dominant class and, therefore, serve to maintain existing social relations along racial and class lines. As CRT evolved and matured into a host of spin-off movements, for example, LatCrit, TribalCrit, QueerCrit, and Asian American Legal Jurisprudence, it eventually crossed over into education in the mid-1990s. Education scholars who write from a CRT perspective pay homage to its legal underpinnings, but they have also added new ideas and thinking from sociology, anthropology, and qualitative research methodology. Like their predecessors in the legal arena, education scholars who employ CRT view racism as a permanent fixture of American society. In addition, CRT scholars in education fundamentally critique the liberal discourse that underpins contemporary thinking in education: that society is neutral, the law is colorblind, and that “formal” apparatuses (social, legal, political, economic, and educational) exist to protect and ensure the inalienable rights and liberties of all citizens. CRT scholars also employ the concept of “interest convergence” (see also Bell 1980, cited under Key Law Review Articles and Related Legal Scholarship), which is the belief that white people will tolerate and advance the interests of people of color only when those advancements promote the self-interests of whites. Moreover, CRT scholars understand the importance of naming one’s own reality and telling one’s own story, a concept popularly referred to as counterstorytelling. CRT scholars also recognize the importance of intersecting identities, which posits that the range of racialized experiences of people of color are varied, multiple and factorally complex. In short, education scholars who employ a CRT lens utilize these and other foundational principles as points of departure, and they apply them to their analysis of educational structures, policies, and processes, including, but not limited to, instruction, curriculum, leadership, teaching, school finance, school law, student voice, school-community relations, student assessment, evaluation, and educational policy. Helping to promote research and scholarship in CRT are a host of academic research centers, such as the Centre for Research in Race and Education (University of Birmingham), Center for Critical Race Studies (UCLA School of Law), Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education (University of Pennsylvania), and the Centre for Critical Education Policy Studies (University of London).

Journal Articles

The forty-three journal articles in this section represent the breadth of scholarship in critical race theory in education. This section includes scholarship by some of the most recognized names that have published in this area (e.g., Gloria Ladson-Billings, Danny Solórzano, and William Tate), as well as a newer crop of CRT scholars (e.g., Enrique Aleman, Muhammad Khalifa, and Theodora Berry) who have picked up the proverbial mantle and have applied CRT in new and exciting ways in their own work. This section is divided into the following six subsections: Foundational Articles, Exploring Methodological and Epistemological Issues, Interrogating Educational Policies and Practices, Exploring Whiteness, Critically Analyzing Teaching and Learning Processes, and Examining Racism Along the P-20 Pipeline. Collectively, the subsections reflect the primary themes and topical areas that are found in the CRT in education literature.

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