In the battle over diversity, Texas’ education system and schools in general have captured the nation and the past month has been no different.
Last week, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 3, which removes requirements in Texas’ education code to teach the writings of Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, and others. It also loosens restrictions on teaching that the Ku Klux Klan is “morally wrong” and states that students shouldn’t “feel discomfort, guilt, [or] anguish” when discussing systemic racism or any privilege of any kind.
Texas’ new legislation expands House Bill 3979, that limits the ways teachers can talk about race and social issues in class and bars teachers for giving students course credit for any work involving social and political advocacy.
The new legislation could apply to any subject taught between kindergarten and the 12th grade.
Senate Bill 3 or House Bill 3979 can’t go into effect, however, until a quorum (two-thirds of its members present) is present to vote on the bill. Texas Democrats have continually walked out of votes for bills this year, including ones they deemed voter suppressive, breaking quorum.
It didn’t stop Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick from releasing a statement praising the rules of the law that hasn’t gone into effect,
“Texans roundly reject ‘woke’ philosophies that espouse that one race or sex is better than another and that someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is innately racist, oppressive or sexist,” stated Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. “Senate Bill 3 will make certain that critical race philosophies, including the debunked 1619 founding myth, are removed from our school curriculums statewide. Texas parents do not want their children to be taught these false ideas. Parents want their students to learn how to think critically, not be indoctrinated by the ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism.”
“Critical Race Theory” has become the new boogeyman in politically conservative circles. It’s designed to teach students about how race is a social construct, and that racism is embedded in America’s policies and legal system. It debunks the belief that race is only a result of individual prejudice and bias.
Conservatives have espoused the belief that CRT teaches kids that it’s ok to hate white people.
The bill in Texas is also part of a pushback against the Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “1619 Project,” previously mentioned by Patrick, which aimed to focus U.S. history around the year the first enslaved Africans arrived, and the consequences of their enslavement. It also aimed to place slavery on equal plane with documents like the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution when it comes to the formation of this country.
The local teachers’ union has pushed back against the state government. The Texas chapter of the American Federation for Teachers have come out against the bill in its early iteration and its current one.
Proponents of this bill list all kinds of caveats about how it won’t prevent educators from teaching a diverse look at social studies and civics, but the overall intent of this bill is to push our schools away from exploring controversial topics said Texas AFT President Zeph Capo on HB3979 recently. “It would have a chilling effect on free speech and make districts skittish about any trouble they might run into if they allow controversial issues to be discussed in their curriculum.
Capo called the bills a cynical attempt by Republicans to sew up their bonafides in an election year. “The specific references by Republicans to banning Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project make it clear that they want this to be a wedge issue for state and local political races,” stated Capo.”
Last week, the AFT stated “Regardless of the outcome of this misguided effort, Texas AFT recognizes that it is nothing more than an attempt to create a wedge issue for local school board races and legislative primary races for conservatives.”
The American Historical Association, a more than century-old nonprofit organization made up of professional historians, voiced their displeasure at Texas state Republicans even attempting to wiggle out of history. They labeled the legislation flawed and said that it could have an adverse effect on institutions that present history to the public.
“One provision hinders the professional development of curators, administrators, and other employees in facilities such as museums, libraries, parks, and historical societies. Another would impede essential fundraising efforts on the part of those facilities,” read the statement sent to the AmNews. “As a result of this law, historical programming for the public throughout the state could be severely compromised. This makes no sense in a state that has created such world-class history institutions as the Bullock Texas State History Museum, and whose history provides important lessons to residents and visitors alike.
“Not all teaching about history takes place in classrooms.”
Attacks on curriculums aren’t the only race-based controversies in Texas.
Judge Robert Pittman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas granted the University of Texas at Austin’s motion to dismiss Monday in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. vs. University of Texas at Austin, which also dismisses the case without prejudice.
Students for Fair Admissions is a nonprofit that’s represented students around the country in their nationwide fight against affirmative action and other race-based college admission policies.
David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, praised the ruling and said that SFFA should stop attempting to undo diversity on campuses.
“For years, the race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin has helped to advance racial diversity and make certain that underrepresented students of color are not overlooked when applying for admission,” said Hinojosa. “…This is the third time SFFA has attempted to bring another lawsuit, and the third time they have failed. Race touches every part of a students’ life, and we need race-conscious admissions policies to continue dismantling the structural inequality that pervades our country.
“As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, our college campuses must keep pace, and today’s ruling makes certain that will continue in Texas.”