Legislation to revise the “ban” on critical race theory that passed the state Legislature earlier this year made it one step closer to the governor’s desk on Thursday, after being approved by the Texas House.
House Bill 3979 by State Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands), which was passed during the regular legislative session in May, 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.
Though the bill prohibits teaching that one race or sex is inherently superior to another—and bans the use of the controversial 1619 Project, which teaches that the United States was truly founded on the advent of slavery—some additions to the bill raised concerns after passing the House.
Notably, the bill added the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights and the life and work of Cesar Chavez to the bill’s list of suggested curriculum. Another amendment required teaching the history of the League of Latin American Citizens, a leftist political group that advocates for open borders.
One amendment required the teaching of “the history of white supremacy.”
Though Gov. Greg Abbott signed that bill in June, he added that “more must be done.” To that end, the issue was added to the governor’s special session agenda this summer.
The bill that sought to accomplish that was Senate Bill 3, authored by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola).
As it passed out of the Senate, SB 3 strengthened portions of the bill that seek to ban certain tenets of critical race theory from the classroom. It also removed the controversial laundry list of curriculum contained in the original legislation approved earlier this year, instead creating a “Civics Training Program” for teachers and administrators, to be administered by the Texas Education Agency.
Some citizens, including Cindi Castilla, the president of the Texas Eagle Forum, have expressed concern with this program, warning it could potentially become a backdoor for critical race theory training.
While Castilla said the organization was thankful that the bill includes a ban on the forcing of CRT concepts on public and charter school students, while also expanding the ban to protect all areas of learning, but they remain “concerned about the inclusion of Civics Academies for lead teachers and administrators.”
“We are seeing the first evidence of what is being taught in the newly created Reading Academies and find the TEA, under Commissioner Mike Morath, created a course in how to inflict Marx’s Critical Theory on our children in grades K-3. Obviously, we hope SB 3 will force a complete redirection of this new reading program. We are not sure we can trust the TEA won’t figure out how to embed CRT concepts into the Civics Academies. Parents and patriotic teachers will need to be on guard as the Civic Academies are rolled out,” Castilla told Texas Scorecard.
State Rep. Jeff Cason (R–Bedford) asked the bill’s sponsor in the House, State Rep. Dan Huberty (R–Humble), if anything in the bill would prohibit teachers or school board members from being taught CRT material. Huberty said it did not.
Huberty then went on to alter the bill with his own amendments. One change returned the controversial curriculum portion—covering white supremacy, LULAC, Cesar Chavez and others—to the bill, though this time as a statement telling the State Board of Education of curriculum not to construe its removal from the previous portion as a reason to remove it from the state’s social studies curriculum.
Another change made it clear that teachers and administrators could not be sued by private citizens for failing to adhere to the bill.
Though Democrats offered a number of amendments attempting to further water down the bill, none were successful.
Ultimately, the bill passed the chamber by a vote of 84-41.
Senate Bill 3 will be returned to the Senate. If the Senate approves the changes made, it will be sent to the governor’s desk.