By Kerry Picket 

Provocative comments by teachers union officials about how, or whether, to teach uglier parts of American history could help decide the outcome of dozens of crucial House races.

The House Republican campaign arm is targeting 57 incumbent Democrats over critical race theory. Support for instructing public school students in the racially charged curriculum may put Democratic lawmakers on the defensive as the party tries to retain the narrow majority it first won in 2018.

That after House Democrats in 2020 lost a dozen seats in what even many party lawmakers concede was an effective Republican messaging tactic on defunding the police. It demonstrated the power hot-button social issues can have in deciding swaths of close House races.

And current polling shows the notion of public school children learning critical race theory is also overwhelmingly unpopular with Republicans and almost half of independents.

Still, teachers union officials are promoting the curriculum. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten addressed her membership Tuesday, following months of parents groups criticizing and sometimes launching recalls of school boards across the country over a school district’s decision to include critical race theory lessons.

“Teaching America’s history requires considering all the facts available to us — including those that are uncomfortable — like the history of enslavement and discrimination toward people of color and people perceived as different,” Weingarten said to her membership. “Years ago, our country unified against Holocaust deniers; we must unite again to address racism and its long-term effects.”

The National Education Association, at its recent annual meeting and representative assembly, pledged to support and push CRT in schools and to reject any laws that prohibit biological males from competing in women’s sports.

The adopted measure, which was later removed from the NEA’s website, promoted the CRT curriculum and reads in part: “Provide an already-created, in-depth, study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.”

All of this is being eyed carefully by the National Republican Congressional Committee. It’s asking 57 House Democrats on its 2022 target list where each stands on CRT. The approach by teachers unions, a major Democratic base of financial and get-out-the-vote support, could further put them on the defensive.

“House Democrats who embrace critical race theory are doing so at their own peril and will have to answer for it in 2022,” NRCC Spokeswoman Samantha Bullock said in a statement.

Top Democratic targets include Reps. Cindy Axne of Iowa, Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, Andy Kim of New Jersey, and Haley Stevens of Michigan.

Hayes, a former National Teacher of the Year, last month defended Education Secretary Miguel Cardona during a House hearing when Republican lawmakers questioned whether or not he supported CRT in public school curriculum.

“I’m a history teacher, I had to teach about the most painful parts of our history,” Hayes said. “There are some things in our history that we just have to face head-on.”

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