Texas Politicians are Censoring Students’ Classrooms Once Again

by TFN

HB 3979 Whitewashes History of Racism and Sexism for Partisan Political Purposes

For Immediate Release
May 12, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas — Tuesday’s passage of HB 3979 by the Texas House of Representatives represents the latest efforts by Texas elected leaders to censor public school teachers and politicize the education of Texas kids, said Texas Freedom Network Political Director Carisa Lopez today.

“This bill is an exercise in historical revisionism at its worst,” Lopez said. “Denying the realities of the past in our schools might serve the partisan political purposes of Republican legislators, but it makes it a lot harder for students to understand the roots of real challenges they are inheriting. We need schools to ensure students are fully informed, engaged citizens who play an active role in making our nation more just and equal for everyone. This bill rejects education in favor of playing shameful political games with history.”

House passage of HB 3979 sends the bill to the Senate, which has already passed a companion bill, SB 2202.

HB3979/SB2202 would censor what public schools teach about the history of racism and sexism and how that history impacts current events. The House bill even requires schools to teach that slavery and racism were a “deviation” in American history, ignoring that they were enshrined in the Constitution and state laws for most of the first two centuries of the American Republic.

“Politicians shouldn’t be policing classrooms and censoring what students learn about the real experiences of people of color and women,” Lopez said. “We can’t truly address the challenges we still face today – like racism and inequality – if we’re not honest with students about the history and root causes of those challenges.”

The bill requires students to learn about “the fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government.” But Republicans rejected a bill amendment on Monday that would have required students to learn that the January 6 insurrection, which was the worst attack on the “American experiment in self-government” since the Civil War, was “a moral stain on American history.”

HB 3979 also censors how teachers discuss current events and topics politicians consider too controversial for classrooms. And it restricts schools from encouraging students to become civically engaged on issues that are important to them.

“Public schools should encourage students to learn more about current events and get involved with organizations working in their communities,” Lopez said. “That’s healthy for our state and our democracy. But Republican politicians who have worked to make it harder for young people to vote are now trying to make it harder for schools to encourage them to be civically engaged at all. Bills like this are a big step backward.”

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The Texas Freedom Network (tfn.org) is a grassroots organization of religious and community leaders and young Texans building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice.