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Texas Law Prohibiting Critical Race Theory in Public Schools Goes Into Effect

December 3, 2021 by Reece Nations
Texas Law Prohibiting Critical Race Theory in Public Schools Goes Into Effect
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shows off Senate Bill 1, also known as the election integrity bill, after he signed it into law in Tyler, Texas, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

SAN ANTONIO — A Texas law restricting the teaching of critical race theory principles in public schools went into effect on Thursday after being enacted by Gov. Greg Abbott in June.

The new law compels public school teachers to not discuss issues of controversy that encompass public policy or social affairs and are widely debated, although the legislation fails to define what a “controversial issue” entails. If a teacher does decide to tackle a topic that could be deemed controversial under the bill, they must do so “objectively and in a manner free from political bias,” according to the bill’s text.

Critical race theory is defined by Encyclopedia Britannica as an intellectual framework of legal analysis that race is a culturally invented category utilized to oppress people of color under a country’s law and legal institutions. The premise of CRT itself does not inherently attribute racism to White people or groups of people, but rather contends that social institutions are embedded with racism under laws, rules and procedures that lead to contrasting outcomes depending on a person’s race, according to the Brookings Institution.

“The purpose of education is to prepare our children to be critical thinkers and productive members of our society by providing them with tools for success,” Allen West, former Texas Republican Party chairman and gubernatorial candidate, said in a written statement. “It should not be the goal of our educational system to become a center for indoctrination. However, that is exactly what Critical Race Theory is all about. When reading the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, you find that one of the tenets of Marxism is State control of education. For Marx, it was all about fomenting class division and warfare. Critical Race Theory introduces race to this strategy.”

The law now in place cannot require through course curriculum certain race-related concepts, such as the idea that a race or sex is inherently superior to another or that individuals are inherently oppressive based on their race or sex. Proponents of CRT contend the concept is a useful tool for rethinking archaic institutions that still lead to inequity, while its opponents maintain the perspectives it presents are intrinsically anti-White and indoctrinating to young children.

CRT as it is taught in higher education is not present in the state’s K-12 curriculum, and the bill passed by the Texas legislature does not explicitly mention CRT in its text. Passed by Republicans along party lines in the Texas legislature during the special session, the bill replaces another bill signed by Abbott after the regular session due to his contention that the original legislation didn’t go far enough in abolishing critical race theory concepts in schools.

The law also requires at least one campus administrator and teacher from each school district to attend a civics training program that outlines how educators should teach about racism and racial issues. This training program is estimated to cost the state around $14.6 million annually to instruct Texas’ over 1,200 school districts on handling race in classrooms, according to the Legislative Budget Board.

“Having white history overrepresented in public education while simultaneously banning the discussion of the negative impacts of that history is itself an example of institutional racism,” Texas Democratic Party Vice Chair Carla Brailey said in a written statement. “Texas history is as diverse as the people who live here. We deserve to not only be included in the teaching of that history, but to have unfettered access to and discussion about the true foundation of our country.” 

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com

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