A stronger ban on critical race theory is one of the items Texas lawmakers will be tasked with when they return for a special session later this year.
On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill purporting to ban the use of critical race theory in public schools.
The bill was authored by State Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) who has claimed on several occasions that it is the strongest ban in the nation. In a press release distributed on Thursday, Toth said, “Our bill is the best in the nation, with HB 3979, Texas will protect students and teachers from racial stereotyping and scapegoating.”
The path the bill took as a part of the legislative process during the 87th legislative session however, might conflict with that messaging. The bill itself was significantly weakened as it left the Texas House in early May. Concerned activists were told the amendments that weakened the bill would be taken off, and they were initially removed when the bill was considered by the Senate as it passed out on May 22.
Since then, Toth has stated that one particularly controversial Democrat amendment to add the teaching of white supremacy to the curriculum was actually authored by State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park), and designed 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.
To proponents of CRT, all white people who don’t confess their ‘privilege’ are white supremacists,” Toth told Texas Scorecard.
“White Supremacy’s new, woke definition is anyone who fails to admit white privilege is a white supremacist. This amendment, by Briscoe Cain, completely undercuts the foundation of CRT as it is currently taught,” he added.
When the bill returned to the House, a successful point of order was called by State Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) which in turn, sent the bill back to the Senate where the weakening amendments were tacked back on. Both legislative chambers accepted the reconciled bill and ultimately sent the weakened version to Abbott.
Though the bill prohibits teaching that one race or sex is inherently superior to another, as well as bans the use of the controversial 1619 Project that teaches that the United States was truly founded on the advent of slavery, some of the additions to the bill that remained in have raised concerns amongst conservatives.
Upon signing the bill Abbott said, “it is a strong move to abolish critical race theory in Texas, but more must be done. The issue will be added to a special session agenda.”
Abbott previously indicated that there would be at least two special called legislative sessions to address both the emergency legislative priorities of his own that died in the waning hours of the 87th legislative session like election integrity and bail reform as well as redistricting and how to allocate about $16 billion in funding from the federal government in COVID-19 relief.
Toth recently appeared on CNN in a contentious interview with Victor Blackwell defending his bill.