- version 5 of the bill
- 2021-08-25 State Senate approves bill to curb what can be taught in schools about America’s racial past by Greg Childress
- discussion: Nextdoor Facebook
The legislation is about a list of discriminatory beliefs, and how schools should handle them.
The text defines "promote" as "compelling students, teachers, administrators, or other school employees to affirm or profess belief in" any of the offensive concepts listed, and says that "Public school units shall not promote" them.
That seems good. We definitely don't want these beliefs promoted.
Then we get to section (d), which says "Public school units shall (i) notify the Department of Public Instruction and (ii) make general information available on the public school unit's website, with detailed information available upon request, at least 30 days prior to" any of the following:
- (d1) PROVIDING ANY INSTRUCTION ABOUT those subjects
- (d2) ENGAGING SPEAKERS ON any of those subjects
- (d3) Engaging anyone who has "previously advocated for the concepts" in the list
I guess (d3) should be taken as "don't hire known racists/sexists", but in the context of (d1) and (d2) it sounds an awful lot like it could be used (correctly or incorrectly) to avoid engaging or hiring anyone who has been active in feminism or racial justice.
The real poison-pill, though, is sections (d1) and (d2). It ties teachers' hands when it comes to providing any instruction on these subjects. All existing educational materials will have to be vetted to see if any of these topics are even mentioned, and then a decision will have to be made as to whether to eliminate the materials, modify them, or write them up for the web site.
a teacher adds
Sadly, it IS as bad as it sounds. Even worse, really. It's one of those things where it is written so a person can read it and say "It says that a teacher can't say one race is better than another." And that SOUNDS like it means that a teacher can't say that the TEACHER believes one race is better than another. No racist teachers. Yay. Right?
But if you look at the language as written, what it is actually saying... and how it can and will be used in practice... is that teachers can't discuss the CONCEPT that some people believe one race is better than another. Which, theoretically, could mean anything that references the idea of racism as a thing is now forbidden. Why did some people own slaves? Why couldn't people of different races marry? Why did the Civil Rights marches happen? Can we even listen to MLK's speech? Nope. Not if we take this strictly. Will it be enforced that way? Honestly, no one knows. And that's the point. It's written to be so broad that you can't pin it down.
The other problem is that Critical Race Theory isn't what you think it is. It isn't what those people think it is either. It really only applies to one or two very narrow fields in very narrow contexts. I had some small dealings with it in grad school for my degree, but only in passing. I know some law students deal with it more heavily than us literature students do. That's about it. We're about the only people who use it, and only in specialized contexts at the grad level. Kids aren't learning this stuff. Hell, their TEACHERS haven't learned this stuff. The average K-12 teacher hasn't read word ONE of Critical Race Theory unless they have an extracurricular interest. They've never learned it as part of their training. They're as baffled as the parents. And NONE of them are teaching it to your kids. I promise you. This has never been on a K-12 curriculum. It's not on an undergrad college curriculum either unless you hunt it down for a special reason. I didn't run into it until grad school as part of my profession, and only for a short period in passing. It's a non-issue for anyone but REALLY dedicated specialist academics.
This is 100% GOP propaganda nonsense. Do not fall for it. Do not let them use this to harm the education of future generations. Do not let them use it to harm good teachers.