Even as educrats continue to tell us critical race theory isn’t taught in K-12 classrooms, two news stories from different parts of the country demonstrate that this divisive and destructive philosophy is already undermining the educations of far too many U.S. children.
In Atlanta, a Black mother was horrified to learn her daughter was shunted into a segregated classroom. When she requested a teacher she thought would be a good fit for her daughter, the principal (who is also Black) said no—classes were segregated by race, and she would be put into a classroom of Black pupils with a Black teacher. Kila Posey stood up to the new segregationists and won—after filing a federal complaint.
In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown has signed a bill ending proficiency requirements for high school graduation. No longer will students have to show basic competency in reading, writing and arithmetic to get their diploma; the governor’s spokesperson said the bill was designed to help the state’s “Black, Latino, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”
But here in Texas, the Legislature is hard at work extending gains made in the 87th Regular Session to ensure critical race theory—with its racial essentialism, its calls for segregation, its soft bigotry of low expectations—is never allowed to creep into our public schools.
As a fifth-generation teacher and scholar of American history, I have spent many years in the classroom with students of all ages. I could never look them in the eye and tell them that they are nothing more than the color of their skin—and that’s all they’ll ever be.
Critical race theory is a divisive, Marxist ideology that attributes differences in socioeconomic status, education, health, income, and other disparate impacts solely to one’s skin color. Critical race theorists believe America’s institutions and all her societal norms are embedded with racism, which is an abject lie. As Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us, the fulfillment of America’s promise is when we can come to see one another not for the “color of our skin,” but for “the content of our character.” CRT reverses the decades of gains we have made since MLK’s prophetic words in 1963. It is evil and, speaking as a historian, absolutely wrong historically.
CRT also threatens the ability of Texas students to develop their own opinions and practice civil discourse. Instead of teaching students how to think, CRT teaches students what to think. As a result, the “Partisanship Out of Civics Act” (HB 3979) was passed during the session. HB 3979 protects our students from partisan indoctrination and state-sponsored racism, including critical race theory and “culturally responsive teaching.” SB 3 builds on this foundation.
One way it will improve on the civics bill will be through training civics teachers to address media literacy, including instruction on logical fallacies. I might go even further—media literacy instruction should be taught through the study of logical fallacies. This would remove opportunity for partisan teaching and identification of “propaganda.” We should be providing students with the tools to determine the accuracy of information sources themselves, so they can maintain these skills far beyond their classroom’s walls.
Next, SB 3 provides language that intends to expand transparency of instructional content and allow parents to see the curriculum. This is a great step in the right direction, and I suggest making this more comprehensive by requiring that all instructional materials assigned to students and through the civics training programs be available and easily accessible to the state’s taxpayers, even those who may not be parents of school-aged children.
SB 3 also mandates students learn the importance of our democratic processes, while ensuring educators do not pressure students to engage with governmental institutions. The new version of the bill has much clearer language than the previous versions, which will help to discourage the creeping in of the insidious “action civics” movement. Students need to be taught civics, plain and simple—not someone else’s version of what civic participation looks like.
SB 3 is a step in the direction of safeguarding students from racist ideologies and preventing educators from teaching distorted depictions of American history.
The gains we made in the 1960s cannot be allowed to be clawed back by critical race theorists. We must tell our children the truth about themselves and the nation they’re fortunate enough to grow up in: that their futures are limited only by their imaginations—not by the color of their skin.