The Texas House advanced legislation Tuesday in a 81-52 vote that would restrict public school districts from incorporating critical race theory into their curricula.
The lower chamber still has to conduct one more vote before the bill can be forwarded to the Senate for approval, The Texas Tribune reported. Texas Governor Greg Abott has expressed support for the measure and is expected to sign the legislation.
“House Bill 3979 is about teaching racial harmony by telling the truth that we are all equal, both in God’s eyes and our founding documents,” Toth said on the House floor Monday.
“Do you want our Texas kids to be taught that the system of government in the United States and Texas is nothing but a cover-up for white supremacy? Do you want them to be taught a souped-up version of Marxism?,” Toth asked.
The legislation received criticism from Democrats in the chamber, who argued that it limits classroom discussion and perpetuated uninformed ideas.
“We are making very real decisions about access to educational resources without even having a full understanding of what we’re talking about,” Representative Mary Gonzalez said. “I can speak to this because I literally spent 10 years getting a Ph.D. in this in which I have seen the opposite of what you’re talking about happen, that compassion and love stem from this theory, stem from this research and stem from the academic writings.”
Representative Jarvis Johnson also stood in opposition to the bill, calling it “tyranny.”
The bill mentions that civics teachers cannot be forced to “discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue.” It urges them to offer “diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective” in their course material.
Toth included an amendment prohibiting mandatory teaching of the “1619 Project,” a special issue of the New York Times Magazine on systemic racism that has been adapted into a school curriculum. The House subsequently denied a Democratic amendment that would ensure public schools teach about the January Capitol riot.
The Texas initiative is part of a wave of anti-critical race theory drives in Republican-dominated state legislatures such as Tennessee, South Dakota, and Idaho, which have already passed or promised to enact similar bills.