Texas lawmakers have doubled down on their war against “critical race theory” and teaching about racism and discrimination in the classroom. In an appalling turn in the Lone Star State, Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Republicans have passed a bill that would, among other offenses, eliminate a requirement teaching about how and why the Ku Klux Klan — a racist, white supremacist and domestic terrorist organization — is morally wrong.
Mary Papenfuss of HuffPost reported that Senate Bill 3, which passed on Friday, July 16 with a vote of 18–4, included nearly two dozen modifications to Texas public school curriculum requirements. Some of the proposed omissions include Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, writings about the women’s suffragist movement by Susan B. Anthony, as well as Native American history.
“[The bill] drops most mentions of people of color and women for the state’s required curriculum,” Papenfuss reported. “That includes eliminating a requirement that students be taught the ‘history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.’”
The new bill functions as an addendum to an already restrictive Texas education law passed in June 2021. According to Papenfuss, although neither explicitly mention “critical race theory,” the new bill uses similar language to the education law, barring “teachers from requiring students to develop ‘an understanding’ of the 1619 Project, which calls for a far more profound examination of the significance of slavery in American history.”
In the same vein, Papenfuss reported that the new bill echoes a similar clause from the education bill, stipulating that teachers shouldn’t “‘be compelled’ to discuss current events or ‘controversial issue[s] of public policy or social affairs’ and that if they do, they can’t give ‘deference to any one perspective.’”
Critics of the new bill say it is promoting “anti-civics” education. Furthermore, despite the persistent fearmongering from conservatives, critical race theory or the study of institutional racism is rarely taught in elementary school.
Democratic Texas state Sen. Judith Zaffirini was a vocal critic of not only the bill but the specific clause in the bill that ostensibly puts teachers in a bind when it comes to doing their job of educating students.
“How could a teacher possibly discuss slavery, the Holocaust or the mass shootings at the Walmart in El Paso or at the Sutherland Springs church in my district without giving deference to any one perspective?” Zaffirini said during a State House hearing.
“[Gov. Abbott] doesn’t want our kids to learn that White Supremacy is morally wrong,” said Democrat congressman Jarvis Johnson. “We must trust our teachers. We must defend the truth in our classrooms. [Senate Bill 3] does the opposite.”
On the other end of the political spectrum, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick praised the bill for rejecting “woke philosophies.”
“Texas parents do not want their children to be taught these false ideas,” Patrick said in a statement. “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.”
With its passage in the Senate, the bill is supposed to head to the Republican-majority House for a vote. However, the House currently lacks the 100-member quorum required to conduct any voting since June 2021, when Democratic representatives fled the state to block Texas’ voter suppression laws.