A Minnesota judge has approved the state’s updated and critical race theory-infused ethnic studies curriculum – with one minor change. As part of a routine update to social studies curriculum, state leaders are adding ethnic studies to every grade, including kindergarten.
The new standards were largely approved by a judge, except for one clause.
“Students will use ethnic and Indigenous studies methods and sources in order to understand the roots of contemporary systems of oppression and apply lessons from the past in order to eliminate historical and contemporary injustices,” the ethnic studies standard read.
Judge Eric Lipman took issue with the italicized portion.
“A plain reading of the text suggests that each student must eliminate a historical and contemporary injustice to satisfy the academic standard,” Lipman wrote. “This expectation is unduly vague, because those who are subject to the standard cannot know what is needed to meet the requirement and strict compliance is unreasonable and implausible.”
But despite Lipman’s correction, many elements of CRT and leftist ideology remain in Minnesota’s new standards.
Even in kindergarten geography and history, students will learn that regions and places are “influenced by power structures” and how to “identify and analyze dominant and non-dominant narratives about the past.”
Kindergarten ethnic studies asks students to:
- “Analyze the ways power and language construct the social identities of race, religion, geography, ethnicity and gender [and center] those whose stories and histories have been marginalized, erased or ignored.”
- “Describe how individuals and communities have fought for freedom and liberation against systemic and coordinated exercises of power locally and globally.”
And Minnesota high school students will:
- “Examine the construction of racialized hierarchies based on colorism and dominant European beauty standards and values.”
- “Explore how criminality is constructed and how social, political and legal systems define a person as a criminal, and the possible impact of that label on individuals and communities.”
Although they’ve been approved and will be implemented in 2026, the new standards haven’t been immune to criticism.
Kofi Montzka, a black lawyer and mother, called the push to put ethnic studies in kindergarten “oppressive and racist.”
“I’m sick of everyone denying the enormous progress we’ve made in this country, acting like its 1930,” she said last year. “We used to have a race-based system. We got rid of it, and now you’re all trying to bring it back.”
Another mother said the standards were inappropriate for K-12 schools.
“The standards move away from a genuine focus on social studies and are not clear, measurable and grade-appropriate. The topics of identity, resistance, and ways of knowing are upper-level concepts that are taught in graduate-level courses,” explained Theresa Donovan. “I am not confident that K-12 teachers could (or even should) teach these concepts.”
Perhaps the sharpest criticism came from Katherine Kersten, a senior policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment.
“Ethnic studies may be easier than CRT to sell as a cover for radical ideology because it remains largely free of the political baggage that CRT has accumulated, and sounds appealing to American ears in a multi-ethnic society that values fairness and cultural understanding,” Kersten wrote.
But, she warned, such a curriculum “incites students to take action to ‘disrupt and dismantle’ America’s fundamental social and political institutions.”