If the public had been largely unaware of the pervasiveness of critical race theory in America’s public schools, the shock waves of Virginia’s election have made sure people, particularly parents, are now paying attention.
The Texas Legislature joined several other states and passed an anti-CRT bill earlier this year. To fight back, proponents of the controversial concept have scrambled to downplay its impact and launch attacks against efforts to ban it in schools.
An overwrought editorial in the Houston Chronicle is typical of these assaults on CRT bans. Opponents claim that the legislation frightens teachers into teaching a whitewashed history of America. But this is factually and demonstrably untrue. If only they would read the bill.
The items some claim won’t be taught in Texas schools, such as the evils of slavery and the role of government in upholding that unholy institution, are taught because state law specifically mandates that they be taught.
The new Texas rule on critical race theory, House Bill 3979, not only doesn’t ban teaching facts, but it reinforces that our full and accurate history, scars and all, should be taught. Specifically, the bill states that students should understand “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.”
Opponents of the law claim it says students should never feel “discomfort” from learning that, for example, Texas hero Jim Bowie owned slaves. Therefore, teaching this fact would be banned.
What the new rule actually says is that “a teacher … may not … require or make part of a course that … an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race or sex.” In other words, teachers can teach history, but they can’t require students to feel guilt as a condition of passing the class.
The teachings of CRT go beyond simply learning America’s history and, in fact, require white people to accept blame for all economic and social disparities experienced by people of color today.
That is what is being banned by the CRT bill — and for good reason.
Not only does CRT discriminate against white people, but it hurts minorities, too. It forces young black and Hispanic children to accept they will always be victims and that under our current system, there is nothing they can do to improve their lot in life. It also advocates lowered standards for minorities and strips them of agency. Teaching CRT is not just unconstitutional — it is demonstrably false and cruelly immoral. CRT has no place in our schools.
The new law protects speech, debate, and the free flow of ideas. It prevents students from being forced to accept controversial theories as a condition for advancement. And it helps empower parents to address and correct these illegal and unconstitutional activities in their schools.
On one thing, at least, we are in full agreement with the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board: “Hard facts about race and racism, about our flawed heroes or about our inability over the years to live up to our ideals of freedom, equality and justice are part of the Texas story. They’re not the only part, by a long shot, but a well-educated Texan needs to know them.”
We are sure, then, that members of that board will be relieved that those things are taught in Texas schools and will continue to be. If they have any questions, they can read the text of the bill itself .
Sherry Sylvester is a distinguished senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a former senior adviser to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Carol Swain is the distinguished senior fellow for constitutional studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and co-author of Black Eye for America: How Critical Race Theory is Burning Down the House.