2 states, and counting, ban critical race theory in schools

Lawmakers in several other states have proposed restrictions
By: | May 12, 2021

Oklahoma on Friday became the latest on the short but growing list of states to prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in schools.

On signing the ban, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said that while tough conversations about the nation’s past are necessary, critical race theory would create divisiveness in schools, The Hill reported.

“Now more than ever we need policies that bring us together, not rip us apart,” Stitt said in a Twitter message, according to The Hill. “I firmly believe that not one cent of taxpayer money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans about their race or sex.”

Critical race theory holds that racism is a “normal feature of society and is embedded within systems and institutions,” according to a post by the American Bar Association.

Efforts to control what educators can teach about race threatens the quality of U.S. education, said Jalaya Liles Dunn, director of the Learning for Justice program at The Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-discrimination and social justice organization.

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“Claims that classroom lessons about race and racism are divisive and teach students to see themselves as victims or oppressors are a baseless attempt to usurp the struggle faced by Black and brown communities,” Dunn said in a statement. “And an obvious strategy to uphold the nation’s status quo where injustice continues to permeate every facet of life for marginalized populations.”

Bills proposed in several states

In Idaho, a law signed by Idaho Gov. Brad Little last week prohibits lessons that claim “members of any race, sex, religion, ethnicity or national origin are inferior or superior to other groups,” The Guardian reported.

Idaho also made it illegal to teach that today’s members of these groups are responsible for a group’s past actions, according to The Guardian.

Tennessee’s legislature last week passed a critical race theory ban that has the support of Gov. Bill Lee, Fox 13 reported.

“Critical Race Theory teaches that American democracy is a lie. It teaches that the rule of law does not exist & is instead a series of power struggles among racial groups. It is harmful to our students & is antithetical to everything we stand for as Americans & as Tennesseans,” Republican state Sen. Brian Kelsey said in a tweet.

Lawmakers in Louisiana and Rhode Island have also proposed critical race theory bans, NBC News reported.

And despite Gov. Greg Abbot’s push to expand civics curriculum, Texas legislators are moving to prevent schools from teaching about racial issues in U.S. history, The Texas Tribune reported.

“When Texan parents send their children to school, they expect their students to learn to think critically without being forced to consume misinformation about our country’s founding and the biases of advocacy groups that seek to belittle our democracy and divide us,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement.