Culture Nov 24, 2020 8:34 PM EST

Student petition demands Texas state curriculum include anti-racist elements

In a petition that has garnered 13,000 signatures, students are asking the Texas State Board of Education to implement an anti-racist history curriculum to the state's K-12 schools.

Student petition demands Texas state curriculum include anti-racist elements
Nicole Russell Texas, US
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A local Texas news station reported that some Texas students are "spearheading a movement to make the state's curriculum more inclusive." In a petition that has garnered 13,000 signatures, students are asking the Texas State Board of Education to implement an anti-racist history curriculum to the state's K-12 schools.

Nitant Patel is a former Texas public school student. In a July meeting for the Texas State Board of Education, Patel said, "Black Americans still face discrimination and oppression in almost every facet of life."

The students spearheading the petition argue that major African American events in history, like the Black Panthers, aren't described accurately in history books at school.

According to the petition, Ankita Ajith startedit five months ago. She is in college now, class of 2021. In their petition, the students state, "The current TEKS (Texas Education Knowledge and Skills) standards ignore our nation's racist history as well as the present-day consequences of a past steeped in racial violence, slavery, and Jim Crow.

"For example, Texan students are not taught about the 1921 race massacre that took place in Tulsa, OK, which remains the single-bloodiest incidence of racial violence perpetrated against Black Americans after the Civil War, with more than 300 Black Americans slaughtered in their neighborhood; nor are they taught about the full depth and breadth of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, which was as diverse in its leadership, goals, and philosophies as the American Revolution (the Civil Rights Movement did not start or end with MLK and Rosa Parks alone)."

This petition is undoubtedly inspired by The New York Times' controversial "1619 Project," which perpetuates the belief that America was founded primarily as a racist country and continues to be such, despite the fact that the project's premise has been summarily rejected by prominent historians. The "1619 Project" is essentially a curriculum advocating for American history to be abandoned and replaced by critical race theory, the concept that society and culture can only be analyzed through the framework of race and power.

There is nothing wrong with young adults demanding for a more robust education from their public school system, funded almost entirely in most states by taxpayer dollars. However, there is a danger in viewing education through the lens of identity politics, in this case, critical race theory. This is a lopsided, in and of itself, racist view of history; teaching history this way leaves out other critical aspects of history pertinent to a well-rounded view of the world.

While people can be racist and racism certainly exists, the idea that all of history—especially American history—revolves around race is factually incorrect and driven by identity politics, a view of the world that promotes victimization and the self-esteem kickbacks rather than hard knowledge in history, literature, math and science.

The goal of education is to encourage children to love the pursuit of knowledge, to have a well-rounded view of the world, and then to expand their own lives through a pursuit of a discipline they both enjoy and understand. The goal of education is not to promote inclusivity, for children to feel good about themselves, to further understand social justice issues, or to understand critical race theory as a full curriculum.

The petition states, "In order for our country to improve and to be a safe, equitable place for all citizens, we have to acknowledge our deeply anti-Black, racist past as well as the oppression that continues today—this begins in the classroom."

Knowledge does begin in the classroom—unfortunately this premise that only teaching critical race theory could resolve any ignorance could not be more wrong. With the exception of the "1619 Project" founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, few people can make their life's work via teaching critical race theory.

As US students' academic achievements continue to lag in relation to their global peers—especially in science, reading, and math—it's far more vital that the public school education curriculum remain focused on these core disciplines, rather than subjects, ideas, or whole classes, that may teach inclusivity, self-esteem, or critical race theory.

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