After the horrific shooting in Buffalo on Saturday, much has been mentioned regarding the shooter’s white nationalist rhetoric. Correspondingly, many leftist individuals with educational backgrounds have correlated this event with recent legislation that attempts to curb the presence of the anti-historic teachings of critical race theory in classrooms.
This assertion can be seen in a blog entitled “Teaching While White” where Jenna Chandler-Ward asserts that “[w]hen states legislate that the discussion of race and racism in schools is unlawful, and the majority of white adults say nothing, that sends a message.” However, is it true that states are attempting to eliminate class discussions of racism?
The Chalkboard Review staff have reviewed this claim and numerous education-related bills, and have found Jenna Chandler-Ward’s statement:
Over forty states have been accused of attempting to eliminate teaching history within the current legislative period. Nonetheless, this idea is simply false. For example Governor Youngkin was blamed for banning African-American history in an executive order in Virginia.
Yet, the governor’s order only forbids teaching “inherently divisive concepts,” naming Critical Race Theory as one of them, and replaces these lessons with “concepts and lessons that ensure all Virginia students are taught to respect all individuals regardless of their race, sex, or faith.” Moreover, the executive order defines “inherently divisive concepts” as “any idea in violation of Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” with examples including the inherent superiority or inferiority of any race, skin color, ethnicity, sex, or faith.
Similarly, Indiana’s Senate Bill 167 was vilified by some claiming it would ban “teaching history.” Nevertheless, the bill only prohibits teaching that admires or devalues any individual or group based on immutable characteristics such as skin color, sex, religion, country of birth, and political affiliation, with the exception of actions performed in the name of political affiliations that are relevant to historical instruction. Furthermore, the bill’s explicit wording also protects against omission or suppression of any past atrocities.
In one final example, Tennessee’s legislator was accused of prohibiting classroom discussion of slavery in Senate Bill 623. Yet, the bill merely states that “An LEA or public charter school shall not include or promote [the concept that] an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
Hereafter, Part B, subsections three and four, state that “this section does not prohibit a LEA or public charter school from including impartial instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic region; or [h]istorical documents relevant to [this section].”
Therefore, the idea that states are banning the teaching of the history of race relations and related fields is verifiably false. Likewise, the remains no evidence that these bills contributed in any way, shape, or form to the horrific shooting in Buffalo (or any other mass shooting in recent history).