Educational publishing giant’s ‘anti-racism’ pledge pushes to teach CRT in schools, reports claims

The world’s largest education-content publisher made a commitment to “embedding anti-racism” in teaching and learning, an upcoming Heritage Foundation report shows.

The report from the conservative think tank, “World’s Largest Education-Content Publisher Promotes Radical Political Agenda in US Schools and Government,” argues that policy guidance from Pearson amounts to a pledge to incorporate critical race theory into its educational material, like textbooks for K -12 classes. A spokesperson for the British-owned publishing giant denied that CRT was included in public schools in a statement to Fox News.

“Pearson wants consumers of its materials to become social justice warriors,” the report’s author, Heritage senior research fellow Jonathan Butcher, told Fox News.

The Heritage report, reviewed by Fox News and scheduled for a Thursday release, highlights editorial guidance Pearson published in September 2021.

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Pearson commits to “ensuring diverse representation in our content and for embedding anti-racism, social equity, and environmental sustainability in teaching and learning,” the document states.

Fox News reviewed the document Tuesday, but the link was broken by Wednesday morning, after requesting comment from Pearson. An archived version is still available, and an October 2022 document, which still worked Tuesday night, includes a similar language.

Pearson used “buzzwords found in the prevailing woke orthodoxy that falsely maintains that America is systemically racist and that its system of laws perpetuates a culture that oppresses women, people who are confused about their sex (‘trans’ individuals), and ethnic minorities,” Butcher told Fox News.

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“Anti-racism is critical race theory,” he added. “The term is used throughout critical race theory literature, including ‘Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement,’ which is the main text for understanding critical race theory and written by critical race theorists,” he added in a statement.

Pearson’s director of media relations, Joe Wiggins, said: “Critical Race Theory is not included in Pearson K-12 materials for public schools or in any materials for government contracts. Our materials adhere to legal requirements, including state and federal standards.”

Wiggins did not explain how Pearson was able to fulfill his commitment without including CRT in its materials for public schools.

Critical race theory protests

Children hold up signs during a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools. Pearson, the world’s largest publisher of educational material, pledged to ensure “anti-racism” is embedded in teaching and learning, but denied that CRT was included (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

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“Why would they say they are embedding the idea in everything they produce if they were not embedding it in the K-12 curriculum?” Butcher said. “I don’t see in Pearson’s statement that K-12 content is an exception.”

Pearson is the largest publisher of college textbooks, has contracts with the US government, owns the largest virtual charter school network in the US and has an online subscription service that provides textbooks and educational videos, the Heritage report notes. More than 160 million people use Pearson’s products, according to its website.

Butcher cited another statement in Pearson’s editorial policy pledging to strive to “practice principles of social equity.”

“Within this, we intend to create products and services that impact learners’ engagement in social justice,” the editorial policy document states.

And under the subhead “Embedding DE&I in Our Content,” Pearson states that “intersectionality should be at the forefront” of its approach in addressing challenges such as the underrepresentation of marginalized groups, exaggerated negative associations, limited positive associations and more.

By pushing intersectionality, the guidelines “draw its editorial priorities even closer to CRT’s main ideas,” Butcher said.

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Jonathan Butcher of the Heritage Foundation

Jonathan Butcher, the Will Skillman Senior Research Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation, authored a report arguing that Pearson’s anti-racism commitment equated to pushing critical race theory. (Fox NewsDigital)

“Intersectionality lies at the center of the contemporary radical narrative claiming that ethnic minorities and those who assume different genders face multiple levels of oppression when public policies result in disparate outcomes—dividing individuals into groups who claim varying levels of oppression,” he wrote in the report.

The report quotes a video on Pearson’s YouTube channel, “A History of Protest Movements.” In it, LaWada Stone, the former director of Pearson’s corporate affairs, says “systemic racism is holding back Black and other ethnically diverse people in a vicious cycle.” The video has since been made private.

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Butcher criticized the video, writing in the report that “the claims are made despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964, other civil rights laws adopted at the state and federal levels since, and surveys demonstrating that nationally representative samples of Americans believe that slavery was a tragedy that harmed America, but that freedom and opportunity define the nation’s future.”

Butcher also pointed out that Pearson has created material that trains students and teachers to have “meaningful conversations” about gender identity.

“A book featured among Pearson’s DEI resources—Sociology: Structure and Change—promotes the use of gender identity over biological sex to describe individuals,” reads the report. “The book approvingly cites the work of Alfred Kinsey, a trained zoologist who used poorly designed research methods in an attempt to prove that children of all ages can benefit from sexual activity.”

The Heritage report warns federal hiring managers and education officials to take notice of Pearson’s gender and race-related content, claiming it “may violate state and federal civil rights laws by promoting unlawful discrimination.”

Critical race theory sign on lawn in loudoun county

Residents of Loudoun County, Virginia, helped make critical race theory a national conversation in 2021. (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

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“Critical race and gender theories promote prejudice in public programs and educational instruction and abandon biology by replacing biological sex with ‘sexual orientation and gender identity,'” the report reads. “Public officials should protect students, teachers, and federal employees from discrimination and reject the use of Pearson’s material that advances critical theory in K–12 public schools and across federal employment programs.”

In December 2022, Pearson announced that it was acquiring Personnel Decisions Research Institutes, a company that provides “workforce assessment services.” According to the press release, Pearson would begin serving USA Hire, a government platform used by more than 40 agencies to assess over 500,000 applicants annually.

Butcher told Fox News he’s concerned that means the company will evaluate applicants for federal jobs through “the prism that Pearson has created.”

“If Pearson wants to create this material, that’s their right,” he said. “But taxpayers should not have to pay for it.”

The report recommended Congress investigate material Pearson plans to create for the federal workforce and that state lawmakers require education officials to review the publisher’s content and reject any that violates discrimination laws or apply CRT. It also recommends prohibiting any material that includes gender ideology “at least in elementary schools.”

Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.

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