How Texas’ Bill “CRT” Terrifies Teachers, Deceives Children

WARNING. The following random facts about Texas history may contain information that causes an individual, in the words of Bill 3979, to “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or some other form of distress. psychological due to the race or sex of the individual: “

· Stephen F. Austin, William Barret Travis, Jim Bowie and other Texas icons were slave owners. Bowie was a slave trader;

· Section VIII of the Texas Constitution (1845) and its amended form under the Confederate States of America made it illegal for Texans to emancipate their slaves;

· Texas ranks third among states, after Mississippi and Georgia, for the total number of recorded lynching victims: 468;

· Texas Rangers in the early years of the 20th century were responsible for numerous atrocities – including the execution of innocent people – against Mexicans and Mexican Americans in South Texas.

It’s impossible to know Texas – yesterday, today, and arguably tomorrow – without knowing these facts (and many more).

State Representative Steve Toth, R-Woodlands, would prefer his fellow Texans, especially young Texans, not to know.

Toth is the author of HB 3979, a law passed in the recent regular session aimed at preventing Texas schoolchildren from feeling “discomfort, guilt, etc.” He also wants to vaccinate them against teachers he suspects to be more interested in indoctrinating the evils of Texas rather than educating about the triumphs of Texas.

Toth and his legislative counterpart, State Senator Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, seek to eradicate “critical race theory” from state classrooms. Neither of them, we suspect, would know critical race theory if it slapped them from the back, but the esoteric academic discipline of exploring how racism is embedded in social systems is helpful to them. Critical Race Theory, along with the New York Times’ controversial “Project 1619” exploring America’s racist origins, are a convenient bogeyman for Republicans looking for divisive social issues designed to appeal to their people. far-right primary voters.

By the way, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is sure he knows critical breed theory when he spots it. He teaches that “one race is better than another and that someone, because of their race or gender, is inherently racist, oppressive or sexist,” he said. The lightweight guv, which never lets facts get in the way of its bloviation, not only distorts the theory, but would also be hard pressed to find a public school in Texas where such a theory is taught.

It took lawmakers a few tries – once in the regular session and again in the second special session – to satisfy Governor Greg Abbott, who is desperate to get vaccinated against a few far-right challengers who intend to refuse him a third lease on the governor’s residence. Hughes’ bill, Senate Bill 3, replaced Toth’s and came into effect in December. Texas – “confirming its status as a laboratory of idiocracy,” observed Conservative Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson – is one of at least a dozen states that in recent weeks have restricted the way in which teachers can discuss race or racism with their students.

What do you think of this censorship, Texans? Mind control, banning books, and an intimidating campaign against state social studies teachers are no less threatening in the so-called land of individual freedom than in a totalitarian regime.

We are relieved that the governor has resisted – so far – Patrick’s inability to hold a fourth extraordinary session to round up a few other ultra-right-wing hobby horses for the sake of driving. far right, including a demand from Donald Trump for a statewide audit of the 2020 election. But we hear that Abbott, with his gimlet eye in the extreme, is tempted to call another special session to demand that Hughes write an addendum to his SB 3. That would make Walt’s zippity-do-dah movie. Disney’s “Song of the South” required viewing in Texas schools and forced teachers to classify it as a documentary.

We’re kidding, of course, but the new law is not fun. Supporters insist it’s about protecting Texas school children. In fact, it causes confusion and dismay for teachers in already besieged Texas schools. An unfortunate incident in the northern Texas suburb of Southlake has garnered national attention, but similar incidents have reportedly occurred statewide.


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In Southlake’s Carroll ISD, a curriculum and teaching administrator advised teachers during an October 8 training session that if they had a Holocaust book in their classroom, they should offer give students an “opposing perspective”.

“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979, ”Administrator Gina Peddy told teachers in a recording obtained by NBC News.

Carroll’s ISD superintendent then apologized for Peddy’s remark, while Hughes insisted his bill did not require teachers to give opposing views on what he called the questions “right and wrong”. Hughes’ colleague Senator Kelly Hancock R-Fort Worth argued Southlake’s actions had nothing to do with the bill. “Southlake got it wrong,” he tweeted. “There is no legislation suggesting the action promoted by this administrator.”

State Senator Beverly Powell offered another perspective. “Already,” the Fort Worth Democrat tweeted, “we are seeing the impact of a vague and unnecessary bill that leaves teachers and administrators confused and afraid to teach Holocaust history or the civil war without teaching “both sides”.

Teachers and administrators are worried, as Powell suggests. Some are terrified of books they should or shouldn’t have in their classroom or that some random, misinterpreted remark will get them fired.

Hard facts about race and racism, our flawed heroes, or our inability over the years to live up to our ideals of freedom, equality and justice are part of Texas history. They aren’t the only ones by far, but a well-educated Texan needs to know them. Texans must also know the unfortunate history of Abbott’s predecessors – Coke Stevenson, W. Lee “Pass the Biscuits, Pappy” O’Daniel and the Ferguson, among others – who were sure to know more about education. as teachers or professors.

No one we know of is advocating indoctrination in the classroom, but students who study history, civics, and other social studies need something much more difficult to achieve. Working under the tutelage of a wise and competent teacher, they must be exposed to new ideas (including uncomfortable ones). They must feel free to debate and argue. They need to learn, not necessarily critical race theory, but critical thinking. Neither the student nor the teacher needs intrusive politicians.

Annette Gordon-Reed, who may or may not be on a list of Toth-Hughes-approved authors, is well aware of “our shared history” and how we treat it. East Texan, African American who grew up in Conroe, she is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian at Harvard. In a book titled “On Juneteenth”, published this year, she personally reflects on her complicated love for Texas.

“Love does not require taking a non-critical stance towards the object of one’s affection,” she writes. “In truth, it often requires the opposite. We cannot truly serve the hopes we have for places – and people, including us – without a lucid assessment of their (and our) strengths and weaknesses. It often requires a willingness to be critical, sometimes profoundly.

Imagine being in Gordon-Reed’s classroom – a classroom, we think, where students are free to explore, to question, to grow. This is the kind of education we wish for every young Texan. In a state “at the same time so difficult, so full of good things and so full of potential” – to use Gordon-Reed’s words – our young people deserve nothing less.

About Leslie Schwartz

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