In a victory against state sanctioned racism, very late in the session just concluded both the Senate and House of the Texas Legislature adopted and sent to the Governor a bill that will prohibit the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” in Texas schools, reaffirming a commitment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition to other discriminatory practices, the law will ban the teaching that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex or that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously”. It also will prohibit a state agency or school district from accepting funding for developing a curriculum or providing teacher training for a course including such theories, which specifically includes the widely discredited rewrite of American history in The 1619 Project.
As for the concept of “action civics”, the law makes new provisions for the enhancement of civics education by establishing the mandatory priority of America’s founding documents in the essential knowledge and skills for the social studies curriculum and “the fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government”, while prohibiting practices of “civic engagement”, “project-based civics”, and political activism tied to course grades or credit. More work on the curriculum is needed here, including detailed reading lists and enhanced teacher professional development, but the bill is a good start in revitalizing civics education in Texas and protecting students from being indoctrinated and used as fronts for advancing special interests. Hopefully, the additional curriculum and development issues will be addressed in an expected special session.