Last week’s Hotline described how one state lawmaker was using his role as a legislator chairing an investigations committee to throw incendiary on issues around race, sex, and gender taught in schools—Rep. Matt Krause’s letter demanding districts conduct a search and inventory of 850 books and other school resources he finds objectionable.
Not wanting to miss the political parade of nonsense, Gov. Greg Abbott joined the fray by penning his own letter this week demanding that the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) ensure that no students are exposed to pornography. TASB responded that the governor was mistaken and that the Texas Education Agency, the State Board of Education, and local districts should be responsible for monitoring curriculum materials. (TASB is a nonprofit professional organization that supports school boards and administrators with training and developing local policy.)
Abbott’s letter is misdirected and a blatant way of attacking school boards in general through their supporting professional organization. “The governor is setting the stage to demonize school boards and educators,” said Zeph Capo, Texas AFT president. “Ultra right-wing conservatives know that if they start culture wars and nonsensical crusades at the local level, they can use those skirmishes to fuel their election ambitions.”
Capo added that school districts already have a process for addressing parental concerns over materials, but they are using that process to attack districts on all levels. As an example, Capo noted that a parent objecting to illustrations in a book in Keller ISD brought the book to the district’s attention, and the one copy at one high school was pulled immediately. That didn’t stop the parent from continuing to attack the district and its teachers on other issues by claiming that “leftist teachers, librarians, and counselors” were trying to indoctrinate students with critical race theory—even throwing in the well-established discipline of social and emotional learning.
In a video this summer, AFT President Randi Weingarten states the obvious fact that critical race theory (CRT) is a college-level topic mainly examined in law school and other advanced courses. “But culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism, or discrimination as CRT to try to make it toxic,” Weingarten said. “They are bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history.”