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Texas Lawmakers Take Aim At Critical Race Theory

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tags: Texas, teaching history, critical race theory



DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, HOST:

Texas lawmakers are taking up critical race theory in a special session that just started. Nationwide, conservatives are calling for what they think of as critical race theory to be banned in classrooms, saying it's racist indoctrination. Others disagree, and K-12 schools say they aren't even teaching it. Bill Zeeble with member station KERA in Dallas says the new session comes after Texas already passed two laws taking aim at critical race theory.

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UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Please. We have speakers, please.

BILL ZEEBLE, BYLINE: Many of the nearly 100 people who came to the last Fort Worth school board meeting blasted the district for what they deemed an invasion of critical race theory, CRT, into the curriculum.

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KATHRYN POMPA: CRT is reformulated Marxism, a neo-racist worldview that exists to add...

JANNA CLARK: This cultural ideology is not a solution to unity, but a tool for bondage...

BLANCA MARTINEZ: CRT is a poison. It's a poison to the mind. It corrupts.

ZEEBLE: That was Blanca Martinez and before that, Kathryn Pompa and Janna Clark. The Fort Worth Independent School District says it does not teach CRT and never has, but it does have a racial and ethnic equity policy meant to ensure that minority students get the same chances of academic success as white students.

Educators say most people don't even know what critical race theory is. Professor Nikki Jones does. She teaches African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She says it was developed in law schools decades ago as a way to understand how race influenced policies and laws that justified everything from slavery to slaughter.

NIKKI JONES: Critical race theory helps us to unpack that. It doesn't force anyone to think anything, right? But it provides, I think, a deeper understanding, a more nuanced understanding of the world that we live in and the contradictions and dilemmas - right? - that exist because of the world that we've inherited.

ZEEBLE: This spring, Texas lawmakers rejected a nuanced definition of CRT and passed two bills pushing back. One, the 1836 Project, celebrates what the governor calls the exceptional history of Texas. It's seen as an answer to the 1619 Project, The New York Times effort to put the consequences of slavery and contributions of Black Americans at the center of the national narrative. Texas also passed a bill that directly targets CRT. State Representative Steve Toth, a suburban Houston Republican, wrote it. He wants to stop what he calls the indoctrination of kids in districts like Highland Park. The high-income, mostly white enclave is surrounded by Dallas.

Read entire article at WQCS (NPR)

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