Lawmakers had a heated debate on teaching critical race theory in schools during a meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education.
“Because you don’t close achievement gaps or raise a segment of the population up by tearing another down,” said Rep. Matt Lockett, R-District 39.
Republican lawmakers have pre-filed two bills that would ban critical race theory from public school and post-secondary education curriculums.
“More and more people are reporting in public schools across our state students as young as kindergarten are being taught that they are perpetually being oppressed or that they are perpetual oppressors,” said Rep Jennifer Decker, R-District 58.
Critical race theory examines the role of racism in American laws and institutions. One educator feels teaching theory is harmful to students.
“Critical race theory is a way to looks at the law through the lens of race, no other causal factors, just race,” said Delvin Azofeifa, a teacher at Martin Luther King Academy. “There’s no denying that racism has played a role in the history of America but, objectively, 2021 isn’t even close to the levels of racism that was experienced in 1921.”
Critics say the bill could discourage teachers from teaching students about racism, diversity, and inclusion.
“I fear for our educators when they’re creating their lesson plans, trying to prohibit and take out things that they have in their lesson plans because they do not want to be reprimanded or fined for even missing their certification,” said Tyra Walker, special education elementary teacher, Jefferson Co. Public Schools.
Some Democratic lawmakers feel critical race theory is being misconstrued. They say it’s being used as a political tool to stop important discussions.
“I would say in for equity, I am for diversity, I am for children learning an honest rendition of their history,” said Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-District 32.
Members of the interim joint committee plan to have more discussions on this controversial topic.
Lawmakers will consider the bills on critical race theory during the next general session starting in January.