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Texas takes on critical race theory with new law

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Texas Senate Bill 3 went into effect on Dec. 2, after being signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 17, in an effort to combat critical race theory in the state of Texas.

Among its many stipulations, S.B. 3 states, "that a teacher may not be compelled to discuss a controversial issue of public policy or social affairs."

The law also indicates that if the teacher does feel inclined to discuss such an issue, they must do so while providing "diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective." The new law prohibits teachers from working for any lobbies or policy advocacy groups on the federal, state, or local level. S.B.3 further forbids teaching that one race is superior to another, that an individual's moral character or worth is determined by sex or race, or that an individual should bear the consequences of past acts committed by his or her sex or race.

After signing the bill into law, Gov. Greg Abbott said, “More must be done to abolish critical race theory in Texas," according to the Texas Tribune.

S.B. 3 will guide the State Board of Education's social studies curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12.

Deputy Director of Policy for the Intercultural Development Research Association Dr. Chloe Latham-Sikes takes issue with the new law, calling it "a huge state overreach" that seeks to monitor how social studies is taught in individual classrooms across the state, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Dr. Sykes claims that S.B. 3 is too broad in scope and would regulate classroom conversations regarding race, gender, sex, and other social issues that she feels should be discussed in a classroom setting. Dr. Sykes feels that intrusions into the classroom by the state government will create more significant problems with education.

"What's happening is a broader interpretation and confusion about how we talk about race, and really important conversations are being silenced," Dr. Sykes said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

In light of the new law, Sykes says, "What would be really helpful is guidance from the TEA about how teachers can and in fact should talk about race, racism and racial justice," according to the Houston Chronicle.

Dr. Sykes says that bills like S.B. 3 are "punitive and oriented toward restricting teachers," according to the Houston Chronicle. She further indicated that she was uncertain about the future of teachers, saying, "It certainly doesn't feel good."

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