Texas gov. signs bill that bans certain classroom discussions on race, racism

Two other states have passed laws banning the teaching of "The 1619 Project" and critical race theory.

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Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law legislation that will dictate how its educators discuss current events, particularly race and racism, making Texas the latest Republican-led state aiming to ban the teaching of “critical race theory.”

The law goes into effect on September 1st and bans the teaching of The New York Times’ acclaimed The 1619 Project, the initiative borne from its Sunday magazine’s notable August 2019 collection of essays, released in commemoration of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to America. Developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones — whose introductory piece has since won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary — The 1619 Project “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill Tuesday legislators say seeks to ban teaching critical race theory in its schools. (Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

Conservatives have pushed back against the project, assailing its accuracy and alleging it makes white people feel guilty for their privilege. Supporters of the legislation were concerned that critical race theory “unfairly” blames white people for historical wrongs and distorts the accomplishments of the founding fathers.

But the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers issued a statement against the bill in May, writing, “The bill is part of a national movement by conservatives trying to sow a narrative of students being indoctrinated by teachers. Our members rightfully have expressed outrage against this insult of their professionalism to provide balanced conversations with students on controversial issues.”

The bill states that teachers cannot be “compelled” to discuss current events and if they do, they must “give deference to both sides.” That note has been interpreted to aim at classroom discussions about Black Lives Matter or racial issues in America. Opponents say it will cause teachers to have to equivocate on important issues or not discuss them at all, making for less-informed students.

Tennessee and Idaho have also passed laws banning the teaching of the project and critical race theory from K-12 schools and public universities.

Texas Democrats managed to add a list of additional historical documents written by women and people of color to the list of founding documents included in the bill. Additionally, the bill mandates students must be taught “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.”

The bill also prohibits teachers from being trained on critical race theory and prohibits
students from getting credit from participating in protests or other activism.

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