As tensions continue to rise between parents and school administrators across the country, Texans demonstrated their concerns with divisive material in schools during last week’s primary election.
The ballot included 10 propositions that asked voters to select “Yes” if they agreed with the statement or “No” if they disagreed. The results of this vote will help lawmakers determine which issues should be Republican priorities in the upcoming 2023 legislative session.
Proposition 4 asked voters if they agreed that “Texas schools should teach students basic knowledge and American exceptionalism and reject Critical Race Theory and other curricula that promote Marxist doctrine and encourage division based on creed, race, or economic status.”
The measure received overwhelming support, with 91 percent of Republicans voting to approve the proposition.
Parents were alerted to the influences of critical race theory on Texas’ curriculum during the COVID-19 pandemic when families were forced into online learning. Many parents were alarmed to find that their children were being taught tenets of CRT such as white privilege, equity, and anti-racism.
The discovery energized parents across the state, and many began attending local school board meetings to push back against school administrators who allowed CRT teachings in the classroom.
In response to the uproar, Republican lawmakers passed a bill during last year’s second special session of the Legislature that implemented stricter guidelines for Texas’ curriculum. Senate Bill 3 created a new civics training program for educators in addition to banning teachers from using materials based in CRT.
However, opponents of the bill voiced concerns that its vague wording would make enforcing the law extremely difficult. Some also feared that the teachers’ civics program would be used as a backdoor for activists to introduce critical race theory training. Additionally, Senate Bill 3 only included protections for grades K-12 and did not apply to the state’s public universities.
Last month, however, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced his support for stripping tenure from professors who promote critical race theory at Texas’ public universities and colleges. He also proposed several other changes to the tenure process, including removing tenure for new hires and putting professors up for review every year instead of every six years.
During his press conference, Patrick said that State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Montgomery), who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, also supported these measures. Creighton had previously submitted legislation that would alter the tenure process in a similar manner, but the bill never gained traction.
Although top Republican officials in Texas have taken steps to combat divisive and offensive material in schools across the state, the results of last week’s primary election appear to show that voters are still concerned with the effects of critical race theory in public schools.