Keep politicians out of the classroom

Editorial Board

During the summer legislative session, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a controversial bill that dictates how teachers in the state discuss the history of American racism in the classroom. Texas joined a handful of states across the nation that have attacked critical race theory in K-12 public schools. However, the Texas government’s censorship efforts do not stop at grade 12. 

In Education Weekly, critical race theory (CRT) is loosely defined as “an academic concept where the main idea is that race is a social construct and that racism is not only the product of individual bias or prejudice but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”  

Last Friday, the teaching of critical race theory in higher education took a blow from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. The Lieutenant Governor announced his plan to abolish tenure for professors at Texas public universities, a reflection of the administration’s efforts to attack public education. The new law would eliminate tenure for new hires and require those who already have tenure to go through review every year, rather than the usual six. 

Alongside his announcement, Patrick also said, “the law will change to say teaching critical race theory is ‘prima facie’ evidence of good cause for tenure revocation.” The legal definition refers to incidents or evidence that are sufficient to establish as fact unless otherwise disproved. Patrick’s bold initiative would attack professors, lecturers, etc., who teach critical race theory in their classrooms, even if it is incorporated into their curriculum and the intent of their class. Gov. Abbott responded to Patrick and said the proposal “will have to be looked at.” 

Several student leaders across the state have condemned the Lieutenant Governor’s actions and voiced their support for gender education and critical race theory to be taught within their classrooms. In fact, the UT Faculty Council passed a resolution defending the freedom to teach about race, gender and CRT. The resolution states educators, not politicians, should make decisions about their academic freedom to teach, “design courses, curriculum and pedagogy and to conduct scholarly research.”

There is little secret that the latest attack by the Lieutenant Governor is nothing more than an attempt to ignore the nation’s racist origins and thinly veil the darkest parts of Texas history. The passage of the proposal would mean a new generation of students would be subject to a white-washed rewriting of history where nuanced topics, like race and gender, are never given academic justice. 

Aside from being a malicious attempt to destroy history, the move would also be detrimental to Texas teachers, especially those who have already secured tenure, a status that takes years to achieve. It should not be the case that teachers — who invest so much time and energy into their students — are being punished for following where their passions lead them — to teach. Not only that, removing an individual’s tenure based on their teaching of CRT would dilute complex and refined subjects, doing a disservice to students across the state.