AUSTIN (KXAN) – Republican lawmakers want to make sure controversial political ideologies don’t enter the classroom.
The Texas House of Representatives to debate on Monday HB 3979, which prohibits schools from requiring teachers to discuss current polarizing events or social issues in the classroom and adds requirements for teachers who choose to discuss those issues with the students.
Among the most controversial topics is Critical Race Theory, a relatively new concept that examines how race relations have shaped the current social, cultural and legal world around us.
For example, the Black Lives Matter movement, which gained worldwide attention in 2020, relies heavily on the thesis that communities of color are disproportionately injured or killed by law enforcement, an American institution that dates back centuries.
In this hypothetical example, Bill 3979 would prohibit a school from requiring students to learn about the BLM movement and would limit a teacher’s discussion of the movement unless they could do so “at start from diverse and conflicting perspectives without giving deference to a particular perspective â.
Essentially, the bill seeks to ensure that balance and context prevail in all educational contexts related to civic discourse and current events.
Round Rock ISD education coach Meghan Dougherty said teachers in all core subjects were answering students’ questions more than ever. She works directly with teachers and hears anecdotally how children will come to them regularly, looking for a reliable source of information, to get answers to very sensitive, yet relevant, current events.
âThese things happen in the classroom. Students hear this stuff, they hear their parents talk, they hear their friends talk, they read things on the Internet, and they come into class with these questions, âsaid Dougherty. “So if teachers feel their hands are tied to discuss current events, where do students go to find this information?”
Dougherty said teachers are already nervous about answering some student questions, fearing that a parent will receive the lesson out of context, triggering a chain of events that results in punishment for the instructor. By creating this Texas law, she said teachers could completely stop pushing their students to think critically about the world around them.
âThe fear of that alone will keep teachers from really delving into a lot of these topics,â Dougherty said. âIt’s not that teachers are trying to indoctrinate students, it’s that they are trying to help students understand these issues, to help them understand different points of view, and to facilitate positive and positive conversations. productive classroom around these issues.
Indoctrination is the exact word Lt. Col. Allen West used to discuss his concerns about how educational institutions approach critical race theory. The president of the Texas Republican Party said the concept is infiltrating schools.
âWhen did we get to the point where we didn’t trust parents? Teachers are supposed to teach our children, not pass their principles and values ââon to the children, âsaid Lt. Col. West. âYou don’t teach history. You teach them an ideological program. “
The Texas Public Policy Foundation, which does not explicitly support or oppose the bill, insisted that the foundation of a child’s social studies curriculum should be based on the original documents that created the standards. Americans for democracy, life and freedom. The study of historical works, such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and federalist documents, is also part of the original text of HB 3979.
Lucy Meckler of the Texas Public Policy Foundation said studying these foundational documents will provide historical context, which will then allow students to form their own political ideologies.
âStudents should decide for themselves which individual acts are good or bad, and they should come to that conclusion themselves. But they should be presented from a point, counterpoint mentality, âMeckler said.
Meckler also encouraged students to engage in political activism in other ways, including joining their student government, model United Nations, or speech and debate teams. This could remove any possibility of political persuasion in the classroom.
âWe just want to make sure that teachers are protected and can still have their freedom to discuss these things in an appropriate and student-oriented way and that children are not exploited,â Meckler said.
The identical HB 3979 bill was passed by the Texas Senate in April. Among other provisions, the bills would prohibit any teacher from including in a course the concept that an individual bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by members of the same race or sex, prohibit a teacher from ” assign a mark for a student’s participation in social activities. or public policy advocacy and directs the State Board of Education to review and revise the curriculum accordingly so that new standards can be set by the end of the year.