PolitiFact Rates DeSantis 'Mostly False' For True Statement About CRT

August 15th, 2023 10:25 AM

Florida Governor and 2024 GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis recently declared that “we’ve eliminated Critical Race Theory in our K through 12 schools.” It was a rather simple statement, but was true, but yet, PolitiFact's Samantha Putterman still rated it “mostly false” on Monday.

Instead of simply affirming that Florida passed a law outlawing CRT in K-12 education, Putterman relied on two alternative explanations to obfuscate the truth. The first was to claim DeSantis doesn’t know what CRT actually is, “Critical race theory, or CRT, is a broad set of ideas about racism being woven into American systems that’s rooted in legal academia. Experts said the theory is more common in higher education, typically in law or graduate school courses.”

The second was to claim that CRT was never taught in Florida schools in the first place, “Educators, school officials and several Florida public school districts said critical race theory wasn’t taught in Florida’s elementary, middle or high schools.”

Neither of these explanations proves DeSantis wrong. Even if one were to accept Putterman’s arguments as true, it is possible Florida wanted to preemptively guard against the insertion of CRT into K-12 education as its ideas have escaped academia and started infecting Corporate America’s diversity training and corporate social responsibility campaigns.

Second, just because a teacher isn’t mandating that students read Kimberlé Crenshaw doesn’t mean that CRT isn’t woven into the curriculum. If the assumption is that “systemic racism” is the explanation for every racial statistical disparity in America, then CRT is part of the curriculum or teacher training programs whether it is explicitly named or not.

As for the actual law that Florida enacted, Putterman, unlike many in the media, actually quotes the law, “[The Stop WOKE Act] bans teaching that anyone ‘must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress" based on their race as a result of actions by others in the past.’”

The word “must” has often been replaced by journalists, activists, and Democratic politicians with the word “could” to falsely claim DeSantis is trying to shield kids from uncomfortable parts of history. Yet, Putterman still wrote, “Although a judge blocked it from taking effect at state colleges and universities, the law  —  along with the heightened attention on CRT — has had a chilling effect on courses at these institutions.”

That it isn’t a fact-check, it’s an opinion-check. The law says what it says and DeSantis’s summation of it was accurate.

Putterman proceeds to spend several paragraphs repeating her earlier claim that CRT was never taught in Florida and that the state has a “broad definition” of it. One example she defends as not being based around Critical Race Theory is a math book that used the Implicit Association Test to claim conservatives are more racist than liberals.

Concluding her article, Putterman writes, “DeSantis’ claim contains an element of truth but it ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.”

On the contrary, nothing Putterman cited in her article proves DeSantis was wrong in his statement. PolitiFact simply doesn’t like the ramifications of the policy.