Texas Gov. Abbott Signs Law Preventing Teaching of Critical Race Theory in Public Schools

By Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
June 16, 2021 Updated: June 16, 2021

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Tuesday, preventing Critical Race Theory (CRT) and The 1619 Project from being taught in public schools in the Lone Star State.

Abbott didn’t make any comments when signing the bill, but said he supports it and would sign it into law.

“Texans roundly reject the ‘woke’ philosophies that espouse that one race or sex is better than another and that someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is innately racist, oppressive or sexist,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said when the bill passed the state Senate last month.

Epoch Times Photo
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks after Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday, May 18, 2020. (Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images)

“These abhorrent concepts have erupted in our culture in an effort to divide us. Unfortunately, they are cropping up in Texas classrooms, even in elementary schools,” Patrick added.

The bill, HB 3979 (pdf), doesn’t mention CRT by name but states that teachers, employees of state agencies, school districts, or open-enrollment charter schools may not “require or make part of a course” similar tenets or concepts, such as an individual is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive” by virtue of race or sex; or an individual “bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”

Teachers or school districts also cannot require an understanding of The 1619 Project.

The 1619 Project was published by The New York Times and attempts to cast the Atlantic slave trade as the dominant factor in the founding of America instead of ideals such as individual liberty and natural rights.

The bill lists a series of historical texts which can be taught in classrooms, such as the founding documents of the United States and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The bill also prevents teachers and school districts from requiring or giving credit to students for political activism, also called “action civics” or “protest civics.” Critics say this kind of civics education is teaching kids to protest.

Private funding for courses or curriculums incorporated with action civics is also prohibited.

The bill further protects teachers from training, orientation, or therapy that “presents any form of race or sex-stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or sex.”

“Teachers are in the crosshairs of critical race theory,” Texas GOP state Rep. Steve Toth told National Review. “They’re reaching out to me to share examples of how they’re being threatened, that if they don’t teach critical race theory, they’re going to lose their job.”

Toth is the primary author of the bill.

The bill will take effect on Sept. 1.

Republicans across the nation are trying to prevent the teaching of CRT in classrooms. Multiple states have passed or enacted similar laws and executive orders.

Proponents of CRT call such measures “censorship of discussions” and claim that the theory helps kids “think critically” about the role race has played in American history.

Last week, Abbott signed a law that establishes the 1836 Project, an advisory committee designed to “promote patriotic education and increase awareness of the Texas values.”

On Monday, a group of GOP House Representatives unveiled legislation that would block federal funds for public schools from being used to teach the controversial 1619 Project.

Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.