What is critical race theory?
Supporters of CRT believe that all laws, policies, and history are designed to keep white people in charge. In essence, they believe racism is involved in all aspects of our lives.
Over the last few years, CRT has made its way into public school systems across the country, using terms like “anti-racism,” “equity,” “diversity,” and “inclusion.”
CRT has started to infiltrate teachers’ professional development and board policies and has even led to the creation of separate departments just to deal with race and equity.
Critical race theory utilized in Texas schools
In the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, teachers had the opportunity to take a class titled “Breaking the Barrier, Talking About Our Differences.”
The presentation defined privilege as “a special right, advantage, or immunity, granted or available only to a particular person or group.” After describing different privileges, the presentation posed the question, “What privileges have you had in life thus far?”
Fort Worth ISD created a department to deal with equity in February 2016. The district’s Division of Equity and Excellence webpage has an overview of services provided by the department. The overview starts with a statement from Superintendent Kent Scribner about the killing of George Floyd.
“Fort Worth ISD, with over 83,000 students and more than 11,000 employees, has the power and the duty to be part of the solution to dismantle institutional racism on behalf of the children we serve and the community in which we all live.”
The department pushes CRT training courses and seminars to the staff.
The board of trustees of FWISD adopted a “District Race and Ethnic Equity” policy in April of 2017 that states, “In order to advance racial and ethnic equity and improve student achievement for all students in District schools, the Board establishes the following goals:” The policy then lays out 13 separate goals dealing with race and equity.
FWISD also has “professional development opportunities” in CRT-related topics. They offer more than 52 hours of CRT trainings, including one called “Critical Race Theory in Fort Worth ISD: An Introduction.”
Legislation filed in Texas Legislature
Two main bills were filed on the subject in the Texas House and Texas Senate.
In April, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 2202 by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe) on an 18-13 party-line vote.
The bill prevented teaching that any race or sex is superior to another, instead supporting the adoption of a curriculum “that promotes the understanding of the moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the country, the processes of governance at the local, state, and federal levels, and the founding documents of our nation.”
Rather than pass the Senate bill out of the House and send it to the governor’s desk, however, the House chose to pass their own version—House Bill 3979 by State Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands).
When it was passed out of the House, the legislation was significantly altered with Democrat amendments. One amendment added the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the life and work of Cesar Chavez. Another amendment requires teaching the history of the League of Latin American Citizens, a leftist political group that advocates for open borders.
Though many saw the addition as watering down the bill, Toth argues that the amendment was intended to “undermine” the tenets of CRT.
“Briscoe gave me his mischievous grin and went to work on an amendment. Briscoe came back 15 minutes later with an amendment that defines white supremacy as the KKK and the eugenics movement — the exact opposite of how critical race theory defines it,” Toth told Texas Scorecard.
“To proponents of CRT, all white people who don’t confess their ‘privilege’ are white supremacists,” he added.
After passing the House, the bill was sent back to the Senate where the controversial Democrat amendments were stripped away.
When it returned to the House, Talarico called a point of order on the bill, arguing the Senate’s changes were not germane to the bill. The bill was then sent back to the Senate, where they withdrew their changes and sent the watered-down House version to the governor.
Gov. Greg Abbott eventually signed the bill, calling it “a strong move to abolish critical race theory in Texas,” but added that “more must be done.”
To that end, Abbott has indicated that the issue will be added to a special session agenda this summer.