A bill targeting school discussions of racism and social issues has been approved by the Texas House but not before lawmakers tacked on several amendments and debated the measure for hours.
The Republican authors of the broad legislation, with a companion bill that has cleared the Senate, say it aims to prevent political agendas in schools, but education advocates have expressed concerns that it will hinder student civic engagement and class discussions of history and racism.
Dozens of organizations — including business groups and school district leaders in Austin and the Dallas area — joined opposition to the legislation.
“The bill has gotten a great deal of attention for its focus on race and gender, but it is far more broad than that, and would limit discussion in classrooms potentially of almost any current issue,” Austin school board Trustee Lynn Boswell said.
It follows similar legislation passed in other states against the teaching of critical race theory, an academic framework of thought challenging white supremacy and systemic racism. In Texas, House Bill 3979, which passed 79-65 mostly along party lines, still requires Senate approval before it can potentially reach Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, who authored HB 3979, insisted it did not ban discussions of topics such as racism or current events, but he tweaked the bill during a Monday debate that extended into early Tuesday to say teachers may not be compelled to discuss “a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue.”
“The bill simply asks that we talk about these issues from a diverse and contending perspective,” he said ahead of the second vote Tuesday.
He also added an amendment specifically against requiring “an understanding of The 1619 Project,” an initiative from The New York Times examining the role of slavery in the founding of the United States that sparked criticism from conservatives.
Read the complete article at: Austin American-Statesman