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An increasing number of state legislatures are fighting against the integration of critical race theory [CRT] in K-12 curriculum. Texas is the fifth state to remove mandated teachings through the passage of laws. In Texas, an example would be Senate Bill 3, which has been recently passed. Senate Bill 3 was created opposing another recent law, House Bill 3979, that was to go into effect on September 1, 2021. 

SB 3 drops two dozen curriculum requirements that were added into the state’s teaching curriculum by HB 3979 – for example, educators no longer have to teach that the Ku Klux Klan is “morally wrong” (Minyvonne Burke & the Associated Press; NBC News 1).  Some people who are against SB 3 believe that this is because legislatures are against the teaching of critical race theory [CRT] in schools. Racism, racial equity, white privilege, and other elements of CRT are increasingly incorporated in the curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students, and on a small scale, some educators are including it for elementary, middle, and high school students.

Some people are talking about critical race theory as if it is a new concept, but it is not. If you learned about the Civil Rights Movement, about Martin Luther King Jr, about Malcolm X, about Rosa Parks–you had a taste of what CRT is. CRT comes from critical legal studies and the radical feminism movement, which all began over 40 years ago in the mid-1970s. Critical legal studies state that the law is not neutral. CRT discusses marginalized communities and their real experiences of being marginalized across the board for education, employment, housing, healthcare, incarceration, and other aspects in quality of life outcomes. 

The passage of HB 3979 added the requirement of referencing to specific historical events to be effective September 1, 2021, including but was not limited to, the Civil Rights Movement, the Chicano Movement, and aspects of white supremacy such as the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, the Ku Klux Klan, and more. With the passage of Senate Bill 3, those historical events are no longer to be included in the mandated curriculum. 

Before HB 3979, the (h) Section was documented as:

The State Board of Education and each school district shall foster the continuation of the tradition of teaching United States and Texas history and the free enterprise system in regular subject matter and in reading courses and in the adoption of instructional materials.  A primary purpose of the public school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage.

Senate Bill 3 states that teachers cannot be compelled to discuss particular current events that may be widely debated or come off as “controversial” in relevance to public policy or social affairs. If the teachers do discuss current events, they are required to remain neutral and “explore that topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective,” as written in Senate Bill 3. Senate Bill 3 rejects the concept that “an individual, by virtue of the individual ’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”  

Four other states have passed and signed bills addressing CRT and discussions of racism: Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Iowa. About 17 states are also considering bills that include the dialogue of CRT in schools: Arizona, Utah, South Dakota, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine. Although Georgia has not yet introduced a bill that looks at CRT based teachings, parent-led organizations are passing around opt-out forms for parents to use in requesting that their child(ren) opt-out of any and all teachings regarding CRT or racism. 

Deaf Vee Journal reviewed the testimonies that were presented to the Texas state legislature in support of or in opposition to SB 3.

Supporting SB 3: 

Mineola Republic Senator Bryan Huges said that SB 3 requires a broad framework and doesn’t affect what is taught. He also says that it creates a civic training program for teachers and prohibits teachers from being compelled to talk about current events or controversial issues among other things. “Our classroom should be a place for fostering a diverse and fact-based discussion of various perspectives. They’re not for planting seeds for a divisive political agenda” (Huges).

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick released a statement on the afternoon of July 16, 2021,  sharing that parents do not want their children to be taught these false ideas, that they want their students to learn how to think critically, [and] not be indoctrinated by the “ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism” (Lt. Governor Dan Patrick).  

Opposing SB 3:

The Intercultural Development Research Association from San Antonio, TX stated in their public testimony that “voting no on SB 3, on the other hand, demonstrates your confidence in teachers’ ability to acknowledge diversity without being divisive. Moreover, opposing SB 3 is evidence of your belief in students’ ability to grapple with complex histories and respect multiple perspectives” (IDRA).

What kind of impact are these laws having on the Schools for the Deaf, day schools, and mainstream programs with large groups of Deaf and hard of hearing students in Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Iowa, and any other state that may pass CRT centric bills into law? Deaf Vee Journal is launching a survey soon, and we will publish a follow-up article on this matter.