Three states have passed laws in the past year preventing teachers from teaching about racism. Idaho’s new law calls it ‘indoctrination’ to teach critical race theory. All critical race theory means is to educate students on the ongoing presence of racism in modern life, including unconscious bias, systemic discrimination, and the bias of the lens of history. Exactly the sort of bias that these laws represent.
In Oklahoma, teachers are banned from saying that certain people have race-based privilege over others. In Tennessee, schools risk losing state funding if they teach about racism. The debate over Tennessee’s bill on the matter included state Rep. Justin Lafferty dishonestly claiming that the 3/5ths agreement, which defined slaves as only three-fifths of a person in the Constitution for the purpose of census-taking and assigning state representatives, was an abolitionist measure.
Including the three above, 16 states are working on laws which would control what educators can teach about the history and future of race in America. Such states include Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. All of these have Republican majorities in their legislature.
Some states, such as Georgia and Montana, have elected to sidestep the lawmaking process. Montana’s attorney general declared in a binding decision that teaching critical race theory in schools or private businesses violates the U.S. and state constitutions.
Educators across the country oppose legislation which would censor what can be taught inside a classroom.
“It creates a very chilling atmosphere of distrust, educators not being able to be the professionals they are not only hired to be but are trained to be,” said Lawrence Paska, director of the National Council for the Social Studies and a former middle school teacher.
Supporters for these new rulings say that promoting racial consciousness is ‘divisive.”
“It ensures equity,” said North Carolina state Rep. John Torbett, during a hearing about restricting teaching about racism in May. “[The legislation] ensures that all people in society are equitable. It has no mention of history.”