Gov. Greg Abbott enacted a bill that seeks to ban further critical race theory from Texas classrooms, even after educators and advocacy groups fought the move for months.
The new law, signed Friday without fanfare, prohibits teaching certain concepts about race; develops a civic training program for teachers; and largely prevents schools from giving credit to students for their advocacy work. He also urges educators to teach only that slavery and racism are “deviations” from the founding principles of the United States.
It aims to strengthen Texas law passed in May that seeks to eliminate critical race theory from schools. The new law will come into force on December 2.
Theory is an academic framework that examines how policies and laws support systemic racism. Texas teachers and education officials statewide have repeatedly insisted that critical race theory is not part of the K-12 curriculum.
But Republican leaders have said Texas needs to ensure critical rhetoric of racial theory stays out of public schools.
“I think Critical Race Theory and the belief in Critical Race Theory creates racial disharmony in the United States,” Representative Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands said last month. Toth was among the lawmakers pushing to fix the issue.
Advocates fear that attempts to curb critical race theory will hamper efforts by schools to address inequalities in classrooms and teachers’ abilities to discuss current events and social issues.
During this summer’s debate on the bill, Representative Ron Reynolds of the City of D-Missouri said the bill openly attempts to censor teachers and “whitewash our history.”
Many are concerned about the vague language of the law.
Representative Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, said in August that teachers should be given the flexibility to be able to nurture and engage with students’ interests in what is happening outside of school.
“Helping students make connections between what they read in books and what they see in the public arena is something we should celebrate in our education system,” she said, “not something something we should be discouraging “.
The DMN Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation on pressing education issues critical to the future of North Texas.
The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network , Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of Education Lab journalism.