Last week, the Texas Senate passed SB 3, a new bill that would eliminate several social studies curriculum requirements from public schools. Most of the omitted requirements involved teaching the history of marginalized populations and the history of white supremacy in the United States.
The Texas Senate voted to pass the bill 18-4. However, it has yet to be voted on in the House, due to the group of Texas House Democrats who left the state for D.C. to protest Texas’s new restrictive voting bill.
Senate Bill 3 drops many of the curriculum requirements outlined in House Bill 3979, a previous education bill signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in June. HB 3979 is set to take effect in September.
HB 3979 would require social studies curriculums in Texas public schools to teach “historical documents related to the civic accomplishments of marginalized populations,” as well as the history of the Chicano movement, the civil rights movement, women’s suffrage, Native Americans, and the American labor movement. It also requires the teaching of writings from Frederick Douglass, Dolores Huerta, Susan B. Anthony, Abigail Adams, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King Jr.
SB 3 eliminates all of these requirements from the agenda.
Additionally, HB 3979 requires schools to teach “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.”
This provision has also been excluded from the new Senate Bill 3, meaning public schools would no longer be required to teach that slavery, eugenics, or the Ku Klux Klan are morally wrong.
The bill also limits how teachers can teach current events.
“Incredibly, Senate Bill 3 specifies that a teacher may not discuss current events or controversial issues of public policy or social affairs unless the educator ‘strives to explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective,’” said Texas State Senator Judith Zaffirini (D).
“How could a teacher possibly discuss slavery, the Holocaust, or the mass shootings at the Walmart in El Paso or at the Sutherland Springs church in my district ‘without giving deference to any one perspective?’”
“We must trust our teachers,” Texas House Representative Jarvis Johnson (D) wrote on Twitter. “We must defend the truth in our classrooms. SB 3 does the opposite.”
Sources: Texas State Legislature 7/16/21; CNN 7/22/21; NBC News 7/21/21; Huffington Post 7/19/21