Two bills are currently moving through Texas legislature that would look to ban teaching critical race theory, as well as discourage students from discussing current events facing the country through the lens of racism or critical gender theory, the Texas Tribune reports.
"Texans reject critical race theory and other so-called 'woke' philosophies that maintain that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex or that any individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive," said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in support of the legislation.
"These divisive concepts have been inserted into curriculums around the state, but they have no place in Texas schools."
Senate Bill 2202, created by Republican Senator Brandon Creighton, was passed 18-13 by the Senate. The bill would ban the teaching "that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; (2) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously."
A state House bill, HB 3979, introduced by Rep. Steve Toth, is set to be considered by the House as early at this week.
Many teacher's organization have come out against the bill, arguing that it would "limit civics engagement and learning for students," according to the Texas Tribune, as well as "tie the hands of teachers."
According to the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, SB 2202 and HB 3979 would also prohibit class credit for student participation in civics engagement-centered organizations, and would ban school districts from receiving private funding for things like social studies curriculum development, course materials and teacher training, which would block donations for teaching the controversial 1619 Project.
Social justice experts and educators have viewed this bill as an attack on civic education curriculum, coming at a time where groups say more emphasis should be given in the area.
"There is more attention being given than ever before to the societal problem [of civic education] and how to fix it, which is why Texas, like every other state in the union right now, has so many civic education bills being put forth," said Wendy May-Dreyer, who leads the Texas Civic Education Coalition.
"The problem is we have a small faction who's trying to quash that effort, that progress forward, and if we miss our opportunity, the Legislature doesn't meet for another two years, and we likely have just missed the boat completely."
Texas AFT, Texas Educators Vote, the Texas Council for the social Studies, The Education Trust, the Texas State Teachers Association, and the Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition have all spoke out against the pair of bills, while also coming tot he defense of critical race theory.
"These bills try to ignore or downplay the racism, sexism and other injustices in our state’s and nation’s history, but students must be encouraged to fully explore and understand those injustices if Texas is to provide an equitable future for a rapidly diversifying population," said public affairs specialist for TSTA Clay Robison.
"Not talking about racism and other forms of injustice won’t make them go away,” said Texas state director of The Education Trust Jonathan Feinstein. "This unnecessary bill—like others introduced across the country—prevents schools from proactively addressing harmful acts of discrimination, ties the hands of teachers rather than supporting them, and seeks to hold students back from grappling with and helping to solve real challenges facing our society."
Creighton defended SB 2202 in a statement to the Texas Tribune, saying Texas schools should focus on teaching "traditional history, focusing on the ideas that make our country great and the story of how our country has risen to meet those ideals."
With these bills Texas looks to join other states banning the teaching of critical race theory. Idaho banned the teaching after passing the legislation last week, while Louisiana introduced a similar legislation, only to have author Rep. Ray Garofalo withdraw it after being criticized for a comment made to the Washington Post in which Garofalo spoke on "the good" of slavery.
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