Legislation to ban critical race theory in Texas public schools was significantly altered in the Texas House after Democrats added multiple amendments to water down the bill.

After being postponed early last week, the Texas House late Monday night finally debated House Bill 3979 banning critical race theory in Texas public schools, introduced by State Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands).

As filed, HB 3979 was intended to equip Texas students with an understanding of the foundation of the United States and self-governance. The bill prevented teachers from utilizing controversial critical race theory, which has come under fire from conservatives as a Marxist ideology.

Additionally, the State Board of Education was required to teach students the moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government in classrooms, as well as to incorporate the country’s founding documents into curriculum standards.

“The bill tackles a number of educational tactics feared by some Republicans to be nascent trends in the classroom, such as ‘action civics,’ overly political curriculums, and a strain of sociological thought which organizes racism through structural rather than interpersonal terms, translated from academia to popular literacy by bestselling writers such as Ibram X. Kendi and commonly called ‘critical race theory,’” Toth explained.

Predictably, Democrats piled on to attack the bill and its author. Toth, meanwhile, received no assistance from his colleagues in the Republican Caucus or the Freedom Caucus. Only State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R–Fredericksburg) was spotted standing beside Toth at the front mic as he was cross-examined by Democrats.

And while a number of Democrat amendments—such as one requiring schools to teach about the “January 6, 2021 insurrection” and its “stain on history”—were defeated by votes, the most shocking development was the amendments that were taken as “acceptable” by the author and added without debate.

For example, one amendment by Democrat State Rep. James Talarico (Round Rock), and coauthored by Toth, requires the teaching of “the history of white supremacy.” Another amendment by State Rep. Carl Sherman (D–DeSoto) adds a litany of items to the curriculum, including the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the life and work of Cesar Chavez. Yet another, by State Rep. Abel Herrero (D–Robstown), requires teaching the history of LULAC, the League of Latin American Citizens, a leftist political group that advocates for open borders.

Toth didn’t just allow Democrats to add to the curriculum, he also allowed them to strip away from it.

One amendment allowed onto the bill by State Rep. Nicole Collier (D–Fort Worth) removed Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” from the curriculum.

After hours of questioning and amendments, the House passed the bill by a vote of 81-52, largely on party lines. The bill requires one more vote on Thursday before being sent to the Senate.

Last month, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 2202, introduced by State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe), which was originally an identical companion bill to HB 3979.

The deadline for passing House bills is Thursday. 

Iris Poole

Iris Poole is a 2021 Texas Scorecard Fellow from Round Rock. She is freedom-loving and had an early interest in liberty and politics.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens