Republican Texas governor Greg Abbott has officially signed a heavily-criticized and controversial bill to quell the amount school teachers can teach students about racism.
According to the Houston Chronicle, House Bill 3979 targets “critical race theory” and forbids teachers from discussing certain viewpoints in the classroom, including the concept that some people are “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
Opponents of the measure, which is one of many sweeping through far right legislatures nationwide, say it seeks to whitewash lessons about slavery and discrimination in America – both in its past and present.
Last month, Democratic Rep. James Talarico of Round Rock raised a procedural complaint, blocking the bill’s passage. Senate Republicans, however, were able to get around the blockage by backtracking on numerous last-minute changes they made, including removing historical figures of color from a list of required reading for students.
The bill’s author, Rep. Steve Toth, said that racism is “part of our reality, and that’s part of our shame, and we shouldn’t do anything to cover that up.” However, he continued, “But what we should also not do is blame that on tender, little children that have done nothing wrong.”
Critics of the bill include Stephanie Boyce, an African American studies professor at the University of Houston and affiliate with the Texas Alliance of Black School Educators. Last month, according to the Chronicle, she said teachers are already trained to present diverse viewpoints when discussing subjects. Additionally, she claims politicians are just trying to block students from learning the uncomfortable truths about America or more actively engaging in the political process.
“It’s not even like they’re trying to make it complicated to see what’s happening,” Boyce said. “We should be trying to find ways to make these processes more inclusive, to bring students into the process even more.”
Texas is just the latest state attempting to whitewash history in its schools. In May, Tennessee banned the teaching of critical race theory in its schools. And last week, Florida did as well.