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Texas lawmakers tackle critical race theory in special session

Sen. Hughes (R-Mineola) files bill banning teaching of critical race theory in public schools
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 6:58 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2021 at 7:06 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Cracking down on critical race theory is a top priority for Gov. Greg Abbott in the special session, and an East Texas lawmaker has filed a bill that looks to shape what schools can teach when it comes to race in America.

“I’m just going to be blunt about what it teaches,” said Sen. Bryan Hughes of Mineola. “It’s racism.”

That’s how State Senator Bryan of Hughes (R-Mineola) describes critical race theory. It’s a major point of discussion across the country and state, and an important issue for Gov. Greg Abbott in the special session.

“We don’t want to teach those little white children that they should feel guilty because of what previous white people did generations ago, and we don’t want to teach those little black children that they’re doomed, that they can never succeed in America,” Hughes said. “We don’t want to teach that America is inherently racist and can never recover.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that the bill’s passage shows that Texans “roundly reject ‘woke’ philosophies that say one race is better than another and that someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is innately racist oppressive, or sexist.”

“Senate Bill 3 will make certain that critical race philosophies, including the debunked 1619 founding myths, are removed from or school curriculums statewide,” Patrick said in a press release. “Texas parents do not want their children to be taught these false ideas. Parents want their children to learn how to think critically, not be indoctrinated by the ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism.”

Patrick acknowledged that the final passage of the bill will require the House Democrats who have fled the state to return to the House for a quorum. He added that the Texas Senate will pass SB 3 over and over again until the House finally has a quorum.

But not everyone agrees with how Sen. Hughes and other lawmakers are describing and defining CRT.

“Critical race theory is a movement started in the legal academy in the 1970s. It aims to interrogate the racism that is embedded in our laws and legal structures in the country, post the civil rights movement,” said Dr. Jonathan Chism, assistant professor at the University of Houston - Downtown, and co-editor of a recent book discussing CRT.

“It is about looking at power in society and how racism is based on power, and it doesn’t seek to privilege one race over another race,” Chism said.

Last week, Hughes filed a bill in the Senate dealing with critical race theory. It comes after Abbott signed a bill into law following the regular session, also addressing how current events and America’s history of racism can be taught.

“Is there still racism today? Of course. We have to deal with it, but we don’t deal with it by telling certain people that you’re always going to be second class,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the bill signed into law after the regular session was “watered down,” and Gov. Abbott wanted more done in the special session to “abolish critical race theory in Texas.”

“So this bill says we’re going to teach Texas history, warts and all,” Hughes said. “This critical race theory bill, Senate Bill 3, says we’re going to teach you about the good and the bad in Texas and we’re going to talk about slavery, which was a horrible blight. A horrible piece of our history. It’s a big piece of it we’re going to teach you about slavery, we’re going to teach you about Jim Crow, we’re going to teach you about segregation and that civil rights, and we’re going to teach you about how we continue to overcome these things, and as Americans we can move past these things.”

But those opposed to the bill and the way CRT is being defined by GOP lawmakers say this legislation will do the exact opposite.

“It is purely a matter of acknowledging various forms of oppression and systemic racism that affects minorities throughout this country,” Chism said.

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