On Tuesday (June 15), Texas became the latest state with legal restrictions on school lessons about racism and oppression after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into a law. Nearly every Republican state lawmaker supports the legislation which prohibits public K-12 school teachers from talking about current events, public policy, or other social topics that could be considered controversial.
“The idea is to whitewash American history of any legacy of racism,” state Democratic Rep. James Talarico told The Huffington Post last month. “The bill is written in a kind of clever way,” the former middle school teacher said.
“You can talk about race in the classroom, but you can’t talk about privilege. ...It doesn’t outright ban talking about race, but the idea is to put in landmines so any conversation about race in the classroom would be impossible.”
What the Law Does
The law specifically restricts social studies teachers from talking about the concepts that:
"One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex."
Someone could "be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual's race."
"An individual's character, standing, or worth is necessarily determined by the individual's race or sex."
Based on a person's race or sex, that "an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress."
"Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race."
"The advent of slavery" was essential to the founding of America.
"Slavery or racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to" the nation's founding principles.
Centers The 1619 Project's findings that slavery was indeed central to the founding of America.
Check out a full copy of the law here.
Texas joins Florida, Arkansas, Idaho, and Oklahoma, all of whom passed legislation limiting the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms. Conservatives pushed the move to restrict educational lessons on American history following the Capitol riot in January and months of Donald Trump’s lies about the election.
Texas Democrats are reportedly gearing up to challenge the law after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick bypassed state constitution rules to get the bill passed. According to state law, a House bill can’t be passed after the 135th day of the session. This latest bill was passed on the 137th day.
“We will certainly see a legal challenge to this bill. The question is whether it is an institutional challenge, a process challenge, or a free speech challenge,” University of Houston political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus told the outlet. Teachers around the country are also pushing back against the legislation.
The version of the bill that was passed does include some Democratic-supported amendments including the required teaching of social justice figures like Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Dolores Huerta. Social political movements including the labor and feminist movements will also be required, though how remains unclear given the restrictions on classroom discussions.
“We killed the racist version of HB 3979,” Talarico said in a tweet, “and forced Dan Patrick to pass the House version that requires Texas students to learn ‘the history of white supremacy and the ways in which it is morally wrong.’”