The Texas Senate passed a bill Saturday that would ban schools in the state from requiring teachers and staff to teach the so-called critical race theory to students, local NBC affiliate KXAN reported.
Under the legislation, schools would be barred from forcing teachers to bring up critical race theory and other divisive social issues in class and from making these points part of the mandatory curriculum.
The measure also requires teachers who discuss issues including racial justice to present “diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective,” as The Hill reports.
The bill has already passed the Texas House, but must return to the state’s lower legislative chamber for final approval before it moves to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
“Teaching racial harmony”
According to The Hill, the critical race theory is based on a belief “that racism is systemic and has been present in institutions, including the law, the economy, and schooling, since the nation’s founding.”
It’s a notion that Texas state lawmakers including Republican Rep. Steve Toth say flies in the face of the values that should be taught in public school classrooms.
“House Bill 3979 is about teaching racial harmony by telling the truth that we are all equal, both in God’s eyes and our founding documents,” Toth, who sponsored the measure, said upon its introduction in the legislature, according to the Texas Tribune.
“Do you want our Texas kids to be taught that the system of government in the United States and Texas is nothing but a cover-up for white supremacy?” he pressed. “Do you want them to be taught a souped-up version of Marxism?”
But advocates and educators like Round Rock, Texas schools instructional coach Meghan Dougherty say the bill will have a chilling effect that “prevent[s] teachers from really delving into a lot of these topics.”
“It’s not that teachers are trying to indoctrinate students,” she told KXAN, “it’s that they are trying to help students understand these issues, help them understand the different perspectives, and facilitate positive, productive conversations in the classroom around these issues.”
Despite the objections of those on the left, similar legislation is being considered by state legislatures across the country, according to The Hill. In Texas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, says it’s because parents “roundly reject” these “‘woke’ philosophies.”
“When parents send their children to school, they want their students to learn critical thinking without being indoctrinated with misinformation charging that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism,” Patrick said after the measure passed the Texas Senate, according to The Hill.