TSTA says new critical race theory law is creating confusion in classrooms

Posted at 11:32 PM, Oct 15, 2021

Texas' critical race theory law is in the spotlight once again, after a North Texas administrator advised teachers to present both sides of history. The administrator gave the teachers the example of sharing the opposing side to the holocaust, to ensure they are in line with House Bill 3979.

House Bill 3979, also known as the Critical Race Theory Bill, has been law in the Lone Star State for a little over a month. One educator here in Central Texas said since the bill has gone to effect, it's just complicated things in the classroom.

A Central Texas teacher who wanted to remain anonymous said educators have pivoted yet again, to eliminate any confusion in the classroom when it comes to House Bill 3979.

The teacher said, "We're looking at going to the primary sources, instead of looking through filtered textbooks. It's very hard to argue against using the actual original sources, work written by the original people and not filtered through a textbook or anything else."

The new law has this teacher contemplating their decade-old career.

"I don't know. I absolutely love being with the students and, you know, having that impact on them. But everything else about it, including the politicians who have made a job that they know nothing about incredibly difficult, and so demeaning. I don't know. It does not make sense, to anybody with ethics anybody with morals," said the teacher.

This uncertainty sparked again after a recorded conversation in Carroll ISD.

Gina Peddy, with the Carroll Independent School District said “Just try to remember the concepts of (Texas House Bill) 3979. And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has opposing, that has other perspectives.”

Questions erupting almost immediately after that statement. That type of confusion when it interpreting this new law is happen across the state, according to Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina. Molina believes the law is vague.

Molina said, "This new law sort of gave a guideline, but it's very ambiguous. We don't know exactly what it is. And so the school districts are having to interpret it. We have so many school districts, there are so many varied interpretations, and this is what happened in Carroll.

Molina said age-appropriate history conversations have been discussed in classrooms from K-12 with no problems before the law was passed.

"There was not an issue before, this is politics, getting into our classrooms and hurting our students. We are censoring information that should not be censored," Molina said.

Dr. Roslyn Schoen, a professor of Sociology at A&M Central Texas said critical race theory, as it is being interpreted in the state's law is a watered-down version of what it actually is.

"When we're talking about just reading particular books at the K through 12 level, that's not critical race theory at all, that that doesn't apply."

Schone explains critical race theory is a graduate-level framework with 5 pillars used for researching how race has shaped our world today. She explains the way the law is being interpreted now is not critical race theory.

Schoen said, "It's being interpreted as though it applies to every conversation about race. That's not true. Or every conversation where there could be an opposing view, that's also not true. It is possible to still teach about slavery, the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust, without applying critical race theory, just because we are learning history doesn't mean we're applying critical race theory. That's a big confusion that people are having."

While some legislators said this law is need to top the teaching hate in schools, but this teacher feels they have to tell the whole story.

"Looking in the face of students and knowing I'm not telling them an accurate account of history; I couldn't do that," the teacher said.

25 news did reach out to local school districts to see how they are navigating through the new law. Copperas Cove ISD said critical race theory is not taught in their schools. KISD did not get back to us and Temple ISD declined to comment.

Waco ISD released a statement to 25 News saying in full:

We remain committed to our mission to provide an educational foundation that empowers and values all and believe that understanding the historical roots of racism as well as its present manifestations is part of that foundation. We also trust our teachers to have conversations in the classroom about race, gender and current events in a way that is appropriate and deepens our student's learning experience.
Waco ISD