Missouri Senate becomes latest body to approve limits on race-related instruction

Tuesday saw the passage of Senate Bill 4, which would impose restrictions on race teachings and calls for Missouri education officials to create a patriotism class.

The Missouri Senate is the most recent legislative body to approve restrictions on instruction that covers race.

Tuesday saw the passage of Senate Bill 4, which also calls for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create a patriotism class in schools.

While the bill contains no mention of critical race theory, which addresses systemic racism, it would prohibit teaching “that individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, bear collective guilt and are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by others,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

race teachings Missouri
The Missouri legislature returned to the state Capitol building in Jefferson City, where the state Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 4, which would place limits and restrictions on race-related instruction in schools. (Photo: Galen Bacharier/Springfield News-Leader/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Before the vote, some Republicans voiced various concerns about the proposal, which was sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Koenig, a Manchester Republican, prompting speculation that it could go back to the upper chamber for additional discussion after the House gets it.

The legislation also includes a variety of parental rights, such as the creation of a portal in which they could access school curricula, syllabi and textbooks, learn the identities of guest speakers at the school and get details concerning the transmission and collection of student data.

Mike Moon of Ash Grove and Jill Carter of Joplin, two Republican senators who criticized the plan, joined all 10 Democrats in opposing the measure, which passed on a 21-12 vote.

According to Moon, the bill contains loopholes allowing students’ exposure to CRT, whether through individual study or lessons that include a disclaimer that the idea is not sponsored, approved or endorsed by the institution.

Republicans reportedly watered down the legislation to lessen Democratic resistance.

State Sen. Karla May, a St. Louis Democrat, claimed that by accepting “whatever this is,” the Republicans were restricting Americans’ ability to read, write and hold beliefs. She asserted that someone informed her the policy accomplishes nothing, prompting her to wonder why it was necessary to pass.

“We don’t pass policy that does nothing,” May said, the Post-Dispatch reported. “Some people pass policy because they want to get credit for doing something that appeals to a certain segment of individuals. But is that policy that you’re passing going to harm another segment of individuals?”

While February’s Black History Month celebrates the accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history, it also has drawn attention to the repressive legislation that makes it difficult for educators to discuss race in the classroom, theGrio previously reported. 

So far, at least 42 states have approved or proposed legislation incorporating limits on discussing race — affecting teachers and their learners, from kindergarten through college — and Florida is among those leading the charge.

Florida’s Department of Education rejected an African American Studies course from the College Board’s Advanced Placement curriculum just as Black History Month was about to begin, alleging it “lacks educational value.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is also pushing to block state colleges from having diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

“The current classroom censorship efforts are an unprecedented attempt to silence discussions and instruction about systemic racism and oppression in this country,” Leah Watson, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program focusing on classroom censorship efforts, told theGrio.

“Learning about African American history as part of giving a comprehensive and truthful account of our country’s history is beneficial for all students,” Watson added. “It’s not only beneficial for Black students or students of color. All students deserve to learn, free from censorship.”

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