NCFR Board of Directors’ Statement Regarding the Teaching of Critical Race Theory
In light of recent discourse regarding the teaching of Critical Race Theory, the NCFR Board of Directors affirms the importance of preparing students to support the well-being and healthy functioning of all families, and re-affirms its guiding principles regarding diversity and inclusion:
“The National Council on Family Relations values the diversity of its membership, which is shaped by our historical, cultural, economic, and social contexts. This diversity strengthens our research, scholarship, and practice. We urge the expansion of our work to focus on how inclusion and diversity enlightens and informs NCFR. We understand that achieving inclusion and diversity is a process that requires ongoing commitment and active work. We will be an excellent organization when we also strive to become an inclusive organization which honors, respects, and values every member” (NCFR Guiding Principles for Inclusion and Diversity, para. 1; approved May 22, 2016).
“Embracing diversity means acknowledging that all groups do not live in the world in the same way. Diversity provides a lens for understanding (a) disparities of power, privilege, and access as well as the (b) exclusion of marginalized groups. The lens can also reveal that some groups are diminished by invisibility or a lack of recognition. In addition, diversity focuses attention on the strengths, wisdom and competencies of different individuals, couples, families, groups, and societies” (NCFR’s Definition of Diversity, para. 2; approved October 2018).
Specifically, regarding teaching and research about families in higher education, the NCFR Board of Directors asserts the following:
- Education about families should be guided by empirical theory and research. Scholars, not legislators, should determine what information is presented to students in educational settings. Including or excluding content for reasons not based on evidence does not prepare students well for working effectively with families. Faculty members have studied their subjects and share information with students and others as experts. Faculty members have the responsibility to determine what should be taught and require the academic freedom to do so.
- Critical thinking is a fundamental skill and a significant part of every student’s college education, especially when learning about families. Scholars too must think critically, always being alert to biases that can shape research topics, approaches, and conclusions. Although thinking critically can make students uncomfortable at times, including it as a carefully constructed component of the educational experience is imperative.
- Education about families must always consider the larger contexts around families. In every society, power and resources are unequally distributed, resulting in powerful influences on family structures and functioning. In most societies, social class, race, and ethnicity are key elements, among others, of a larger context that should always be considered in relation to families’ access to resources.
This statement was prepared in order to accompany special features of the fall 2021 issue of NCFR Report on dismantling racism and exploring Critical Race Theory. To access these articles, please visit ncfr.org/ncfr-report/fall-2021