Mirroring moves by other red-state legislatures across the country, Texas Republicans are attempting to reach into classrooms and limit what public school students are taught about the nation's historical subjugation of people of color.
Two separate pieces of legislation, Senate bill 2022 and House bill 3979, finding their way through the legislature would ban teachers from teaching anti-racist material, and from receiving private funding or material for teaching the controversial 1619 Project.
The Senate bill, authored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, insists that “no teacher shall be compelled by a policy of any state agency, school district, campus, open-enrollment charter school, or school administration to discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs.”
In addition, schools would be barred from requiring “political activism” as part of a course or including as extra credit, and from teaching that people should feel “discomfort” or “guilt” because of their race or sex, according to the bill text. Students also would be prohibited from being taught that “meritocracy” or “hard work” are racist or sexist, the bill says.
Creighton told the Texas Tribune the bills seek to encourage schools to teach “traditional history, focusing on the ideas that make our country great and the story of how our country has risen to meet those ideals.”
Decrying critical race theory has emerged as a common refrain among conservative Republicans nationwide, but the Texas legislation would go further by discouraging Texas students from discussing current events or controversial public policy issues.
“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,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement, as reported by the Texas Tribune. “These divisive concepts have been inserted into curriculums around the state, but they have no place in Texas schools.”
But educators and social justice experts see the efforts as an attack on the state’s civic education curriculum at a time when students should be learning more, not less, about civics, social justice and history.
A Texas State Teachers Association representative told the Tribune the bills would make schools paper over American “injustices” in their curricula.
“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,” declared spokesperson Clay Robinson, according to the report.