FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2021
CONTACT: Rob D’Amico, 512-627-1343, firstname.lastname@example.org
Texas AFT President Zeph Capo commented today on continuing consideration of HB 3979, which would discourage teachers from discussing current events in social studies courses, prohibit students from receiving course credit for participation in activities and organizations that encourage civic engagement, and limit important school-wide race and gender diversity training for teachers, administrators, and state agency employees.
If you want to stop racial injustice, you need to acknowledge it–in the past and present–and then explore how to stop it in the future, and this bill would take us in the opposite direction. Texas would be setting a terrible example for our schoolchildren by saying it’s preferable not to discuss the atrocities of racism and how systemic injustice against people of color still continues.
Proponents of this bill list all kinds of caveats about how it won’t prevent educators from teaching a diverse look at social studies and civics, but the overall intent of this bill is to push our schools away from exploring controversial topics. It would have a chilling effect on free speech and make districts skittish about any trouble they might run into if they allow controversial issues to be discussed in their curriculum.
The specific references by Republicans to banning Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project make it clear that they want this to be a wedge issue for state and local political races. The bill is part of a national movement by conservatives trying to sow a narrative of students being indoctrinated by teachers. Our members rightfully have expressed outrage against this insult of their professionalism to provide balanced conversations with students on controversial issues.
Texas AFT and more than 70 other educational organizations oppose this bill.
Texas American Federation of Teachers represents some 66,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.