News & Politics

Texas Legislator Introduces Bill to Keep Critical Theory and Politics Out of Classrooms

Rep. James White (R), right, with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

State Representative James White, a Republican who represents District 19 in Texas, has submitted a comprehensive bill to eliminate critical theory’s primary components from schools in the state. The bill has left the committee and had its first reading on the floor. It specifies civics instruction guidelines that include using the founding documents and other significant pieces as required lessons. The bill also prevents teachers from being pressured into teaching contentious current events and requires presenting both sides of political issues if they do cover them.

Perhaps just as important, the proposed changes prohibit state agencies, school districts, teachers, and administrators in Texas from taking any private funds for curriculum development, purchasing materials, or staff training. The Gates Foundation is the hardest hit. The charity has put millions into Common Core, and a new math curriculum that teaches that asking minority children to show their work in middle school is racist. Schools in Texas will no longer serve as a lab for Gates and other activists’ bizarre social experiments.

Without explicitly calling out the current high-profile purveyors of critical race theory, like Ibram X. Kendi or Robin DiAngelo, White’s legislation eloquently and specifically prohibits the elements of curricula that promote race essentialism, collective guilt or victimhood, and neo-segregation. Texas’s contribution could serve as model legislation for any other state concerned with critical theory upending the fundamental American values of equal opportunity, individual responsibility, and unity.

The bill will also eliminate the need for parents to sue under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, or similar legislation at the state level. Lawsuits are expensive, lengthy, and contentious, especially for a hotly debated issue such as critical race theory. It also prevents the worst-case scenario that played out in Loudon County, Virginia. Public officials and teachers created a Facebook page to expose and publicly shame any parent who objected to the equity and social justice curriculum they were using.

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The bill as submitted amends Section 28.002 of the education code by adding three subsections. The first one details the elements of civics instruction that a social studies curriculum must include:

  • The fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government in the United States
  • The history qualities, traditions, and features of civic engagement
  • The structure, function, and processes of government institutions at the local, state, and federal level
  • Specific foundational documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, specific Federalist Papers, excerpts from Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” the first Lincoln-Douglas debate, and other writings by the Founding Fathers.

To protect teachers from being compelled to discuss controversial events and bringing activism into the classroom, the language in the second subsection is robust:

  • No teacher can be compelled by any agency or administrator to discuss current events or controversial issues in public policy and the culture.
  • If a teacher chooses to discuss these matters, they need to make an effort to present all sides without giving deference to any.
  • No course can include as part of a grade, service learning, or extra credit opportunity students working with any organization lobbying for a cause or legislation at the local, state, or federal level.
  • No course can include as part of a grade, service learning, or extra credit opportunity for a practicum in public policy advocacy, lobbying, or efforts to persuade the government on public or social policy.

The second subsection also prohibits specific types of training for school staff, teachers, administrators, and employees in state agencies in Texas. It specifically bans any form of race or sex stereotyping and any assignment of blame based on race or sex. For students, the prohibition on what may be taught or required in any course is even more specific. It covers the underlying themes of critical race theory and critical gender theory. The concepts that are not allowed are any content that teaches:

  • One race or sex is inherently superior to another.
  • By virtue of their race or sex, an individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  • An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of their race or sex.
  • Members of one race or sex cannot or should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.
  • Their race or sex determines an individual’s moral character.
  • An individual bears responsibility for the past actions of others of the same race or sex.
  • An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, or any other form of psychological distress based on their race or sex.
  • Meritocracy or traits such as a work ethic are racist or sexist or created to oppress members of a particular race.

Perhaps there is room to quibble about the core concepts for the civics curriculum. However, there is little room for debate about the remainder of the bill. Public schools—and this bill applies to public and open-enrollment charters in Texas—should be institutions that develop skills and knowledge that children can eventually use in the workplace. Educators should seek to help students discover their strengths and talents while assisting them in acquiring skills and mechanisms to reduce their weaknesses. The ability to work in teams and in a self-directed manner are also keys to success. Training them to be activists serves no one in the long term.

None of this can happen if we sort children based on the circumstances of their birth or make assumptions because of how they look. Congratulations to state Rep. White and Texas for having the courage to address critical theory head-on to benefit young Texans. Other states should take note and follow suit.

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