On September 22, President Trump issued an executive order (EO) to “combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.” The order expands on a recent memorandum from the White House Office of Management and Budget that required federal agencies to cease funding for training that addresses “critical race theory” and “white privilege.” The most recent EO applies the prohibition to federal contractors and grant recipients and also precludes the use of federal funds to promote concepts that, for example, suggest one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex. While most of the order went into effect immediately, it contained a provision granting federal agency directors 60 days (until November 22) to compile a list of grant programs that violate this prohibition. On October 22, the Department of Labor issued a related Federal Register notice requesting, by December 1, comments, information, and materials from federal contractors, subcontractors, and employees of federal contractors and subcontractors “concerning workplace trainings involving prohibited race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating.”
The higher education community is concerned that the EO, depending on how it is interpreted by federal agency leadership, could apply to social science research grants that address structural racism and sexism. PAA has heard from some of its members whose institutions are already
anticipating potential issues and have requested information regarding specific curriculum and research projects. In response, PAA has signed statements (AERA statement and multi-society letter) issued by other scientific societies supporting anti-racist education and urging the Administration to rescind the EO.
PAA, as a member of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), will continue to monitor related developments and consider opportunities to express our organizations concerns regarding the potential unintended and intended effects of the EO especially as it bears on research and research training.
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