87th Texas Legislature

Bill to Ban Critical Race Theory in Texas Schools Passes Senate After Overnight Debate

The bill says teachers cannot be required to discuss current events or controversial issues related to public policy or social affairs

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It was the wee hours of Saturday morning by the time state senators finished an hours-long debate and voted to legislate how race is discussed in Texas social studies classes. 

"Parents are complaining about it. They're concerned about it, and that's why we're here,” Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) said.

Hughes presented his chamber’s revised version of the divisive House Bill 3979 that has come to be known unofficially as the "critical race theory bill."

It states no public or charter school teacher can be required to discuss current events or controversial issues related to public policy or social affairs. And if teachers do broach those topics, the bill says they must teach both sides without giving deference to any one perspective. 

“Right now there are teachings out there, and they're being taught in some Texas public schools that say one race or sex is inherently superior to the other,” Hughes said. “If we don’t respond to these horrible things, if we don’t respond to these with these American ideas that we all aspire to, if we abandon those and we go to this level, we can’t imagine how bad, how bad that will be for these children and for the future of our country.”

It's a mandate opponents like the Association of Texas Professional Educators say is unnecessary and shuts teachers out of the discussion.

"We are concerned it will have a chilling effect on educators by dictating what they can and cannot talk about in their classes and what can be made part of their course and what can't,” Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell said.

Others have raised concern that it prohibits districts from requiring staff to participate in training that "presents any form of race or sex-stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or sex."

Dallas ISD trustees passed a resolution to oppose the bill saying it, "threatens the essential work that the District is doing to celebrate diversity and would greatly hinder efforts to create inclusive and equitable learning environments and develop more informed, engaged citizens.”

But for supporters, Saturday’s early morning passage was seen as a huge win.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) released a statement congratulating the bill’s sponsors. It read in part:

"Texans roundly reject the 'woke' philosophies that espouse that one race or sex is better than another and that someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is innately racist, oppressive or sexist.

"These abhorrent concepts have erupted in our culture in an effort to divide us. Unfortunately, they are cropping up in Texas classrooms, even in elementary schools.

"House Bill 3979 makes certain that critical race philosophies, including the 1619 founding myth, are removed from our school curriculums statewide. 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.”

The revised bill now heads back to the House floor.

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