In another legal attempt to push back against "Critical Race Theory," the Texas Senate voted on Friday to end a requirement for public school educators to teach students that the Ku Klux Klan is "morally wrong." The proposal stated that the history of white supremacy, which includes American slavery, eugenics, and violence carried out by the KKK cannot be taught in a way that suggests this history is immoral, HuffPost reported.
The suggested provision is part of Senate Bill 3, which passed in the Senate on Friday by 18 votes to 4. If passed, the bill would also remove a mandate that requires educators to teach about the Civil Rights movement, Native American history, and the Chicano movement. Further, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and the works of figures like United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez and suffragist activist Susan B. Anthony, would also be dropped from the public school curriculum.
Friday's vote was an amendment to a bill that passed in June, which attempted to prohibit critical race theory from being taught in schools. While the legislation doesn't mention critical race theory by name, Texas Republicans are clearly using it in an attempt to censor teachers from engaging students in difficult discussions about race and racism when teaching U.S. history and civics.
"Teachers should not be censored from educating students about our history, no matter how inconvenient elected officials find it to talk about race," the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said in a tweet.
Opponents of the bill called it "anti-civics" education, and say it could discourage important conversations in the classroom about historical and cultural issues that continue to impact current affairs, the Dallas Morning News reports.
"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?" Democratic Sen. Judith Zaffirini asked.
Democratic State Rep. James Talarico, who successfully helped block the original bill in May was disappointed to see it revived last week. "The amendments the House added were essential to ensure that we were teaching students all of American history — the good, the bad, and the ugly," he told the Texas Tribune. "They were put in place to ensure that teachers wouldn't be punished for telling their students the truth. And if we were to strip them, I could see teachers across the state of Texas being silenced. It's a frightening dystopian future that starts to come into focus,” he added.
But Republicans are once again claiming that school curricula that teach American history with a critical lens are a form of "leftist indoctrination." Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the legislation rejects "philosophies that espouse that one race or sex is better than another," HuffPost reports. He further claimed in a statement that parents "want their students to learn how to think critically, not be indoctrinated by the ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism."
According to activists and opponents, this type of legislation is being crafted and introduced in an effort to silence the Black liberation movements that have re-emerged and continued in recent years over racial injustices and police violence against Black people and communities. The discourse and legislative action taken against critical race theory are nothing more than a right-wing attempt to take back control following the momentum gained by the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, the good news is that the bill isn't likely to become law, as it requires a vote in the House of Representatives, which is deadlocked after 56 Democratic Representatives left the state in an effort to block the legislative session.