The Texas Senate has voted to axe requirements that public schools teach certain materials about the KKK, the civil rights movement and women’s suffrage, among others.
A current requirement, that students learn: “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” would be dropped if the bill is passed.
The bill is widely considered to be part of a Republican campaign against Critical Race Theory, which looks at the impact of race and racism in US institutions. While the theory was not mentioned specifically in the legislation, it is currently a flashpoint in US cultural and political debates.
Last month, Texas Gov Greg Abbott signed legislation that outlined how state schools can educate students about race and racism and forbade schools from teaching that individuals bear responsibility for actions committed by people in the past because of their race, according to The Hill.
That bill included a section requiring that students are taught “historical documents related to the civic accomplishments of marginalized populations”.
The section included “the Chicano movement”, “women’s suffrage and equal rights”, “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”, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream” speech among other writings.
Those requirements are not included in the new bill passed by the Texas Senate last Friday, but language limiting how race can be discussed in classrooms is retained.
The bill says teachers should cover those topics "from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective" to the best of their ability.
“What we’re doing with this bill, we’re saying that specific reading list doesn’t belong in statute,” state Sen Bryan Hughes, the bill’s author, said in a statement to Bloomberg.
Democrats, including state Sen Judith Zaffirini, have condemned the measure, saying teachers’ hands will be tied.
She said, "How could a teacher possibly discuss slavery, the Holocaust, or the mass shootings at the Walmart in El Paso or at the Sutherland Springs church in my district without giving deference to any one perspective?", reports Bloomberg.
The legislation now awaits consideration in the House.
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