What critics of Critical Race Theory are actually criticizing

Critics think about the San Diego Unified School District's decision to abolish turning in homework on time; guidance from the Oregon Department of Education saying that asking students to show their work is "white supremacy;" a Philadelphia elementary school that had fifth graders celebrate "black communism" and simulate a rally in support of the genuine radical Angela Davis; and the New York City prep school where a group of students bullied administrators into acquiescence through an anonymous social media harassment campaign.

These could be isolated incidents, but dozens of parents to whom I and other reporters have spoken see the same things happening in their own schools. Last summer's "racial reckoning" impacted all American institutions, inducing a crisis as well-meaning school leaders scrambled to avoid accusations of racism. Perhaps for want of a better alternative, they embraced as their solution the peculiar and often-toxic hodgepodge of concepts that inevitably produce such insanities as those aforementioned.

That set of ideas takes different forms, but tends to coalesce around agreement on a few key principles: America is a constitutionally and structurally white supremacist society; achievement disparities between races are a byproduct of that essential white supremacy; and the only way to undo this structural white supremacy is through explicitly race-conscious "discrimination," as well as therapeutic exercises meant to disinter internalized oppression and "implicit bias."